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Lions Roar : September 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2008 69 When you are working, it’s so easy to become consumed, particularly by computers. They have a way of hypnotizing you, but you could have a timer on your computer that reminds you to cre- ate a gap. No matter how engrossing your work is, no matter how much it is sweeping you up, just keep pausing, keep allowing for a gap. When you get hooked by your habit patterns, don’t see it as a big problem; allow for a gap. When you are completely wound up about something and you pause, your natural intelli- gence clicks in and you have a sense of the right thing to do. This is part of the magic: our own natural intelligence is always there to inform us, as long as we allow a gap. As long as we are on automatic pilot, dictated to by our minds and our emotions, there is no intelligence. It is a rat race. Whether we are at a retreat center or on Wall Street, it becomes the busiest, most en- tangled place in the world. Pause, connect with the immediacy of your experience, connect with the blessings; liberate yourself from the cocoon of self-involvement, talking to yourself all of the time, completely obsessing. Allow a gap, gap, gap. Just do it over and over and over; allow yourself the space to realize where you are. Realize how big your mind is; realize how big the space is, that it has never gone away, but that you have been ignoring it. Find a way to slow down. Find a way to relax. Find a way to relax your mind and do it often, very, very often, throughout the day continuously, not just when you are hooked but all the time. At its root, being caught up in discursive thought, continually self-involved with discursive plans, worries, and so forth, is attachment to ourselves. It is the surface manifestation of ego-clinging. So, what is the most important thing to do with each day? With each morn- ing, each afternoon, each evening? It is to leave a gap. It doesn’t matter whether you are practicing meditation or working, there is an underlying continuity. These gaps, these punctuations, are like poking holes in the clouds, poking holes in the cocoon. And these gaps can extend so that they can permeate your entire life, so that the continuity is no longer the continuity of discursive thought but rather one continual gap. But before we get carried away by the idea of continual gap, let’s be realistic about where we actually are. We must first remind ourselves what the most important thing is. Then we have to learn how to balance that with the fact that we have jobs to do, which can cause us to become submerged in the de- tails of our lives and caught in the cocoon of our patterns all day long. So find ways to create the gap frequently, often, continuously. In that way, you allow yourself the space to connect with the sky and the ocean and the birds and the land and with the blessing of the sacred world. Give yourself the chance to come out of your cocoon. ♦ This teaching is based on a talk given to the monks and nuns of Gampo Abbey in Cape Breton, Nova Sco- tia, where Pema Chödrön is resident acharya (senior teacher). It has been adapted for a lay audience. Pause practice can transform each day of your life. It creates an open doorway to the sacredness, stillness, and magic of the place in which you find yourself. SEPT 64-69.indd 69 SEPT 64-69.indd 69 7/3/08 1:32:47 PM 7/3/08 1:32:47 PM