imagesWild and crazy things are happening these days, and many of them are full of challenges: the unfolding of the US election; many dear friends, including close family members, have significant health issues; October storms of typhoon force are coursing in from the ocean; my brand new computer is acting up and I have to pack it up and take it in for repairs, and we have given up our car, so I will schlepp it on the bus…

You’ll have your own list!  From the sublimely disastrous to our ridiculous, “first world” problems.  Where to go, what to do, how to be with?

Pema Chodron writes of these matters.  “The essence of life is that it’s challenging. Sometimes it is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about that approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.  

So many teachers speak about this, and have ways of handling these challenging times.  Matt Kahn says, Whatever arises, love that.  Ezra Bayda, Rick Hanson, and many others suggest that “most of what is causing us anxiety in the present moment is only happening in our mind,” and that most moments we are safe, cared for, and basically OK.  

One approach that speaks to me these days is to expand the frame of reference.  Bring Spaciousness tounknown bear on the challenges.  The sweet times as well as those challenging ones. Tapping in to spaciousness transforms us, no matter what the situation, sweet or bitter.  

There is a Japanese word that relates to this: Yutori. According to an article in Thirty Thousand Days, a ToDo Institute  publication which I value highly, Yutori is the kind of spaciousness that fundamentally changes our perspective on things.  A couple of examples: arriving early enough to have time to look around and just be; after reading a poem, the space to hold it, let it sink in and resonate.  No need to explain it, paraphrase it. Just be with its affect, impact and this spacious holding allows you to see it differently.   What are some examples of Yutori in your life?

Naomi Shihab Nye, writing about Yutori, goes on to propose that we might consider our lives to be a living poem — remembering, flowing, savoring, allowing, moving from moment to moment.  What better way to deal with challenges than to know they are part of life, and to hold them in spaciousness.  Like a poem.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Your feedback, forwards, tweets, likes are most welcome.

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