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"First We Make the Beast Beautiful"

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

This morning I am reading from page one of a great book I found while searching for help with anxiety. The first page astounded me and I’ve never forgotten its message, so I wanted to share it with you.

“The first time I met His Holiness The Dalai Lama, I was invited to ask him one question. He tends to go on and on, his people told me. So one question only.” “Of course I fretted. One question.”

“I was interviewing His Holiness for a magazine column I wrote in which I explored ways to have a better life. The column was one of my smarter orchestrations. Anxiety-related illness had planted me in a spot such that I was too sick to hold down a normal job, too broke to get the healing treatments I needed. So, I confected a gig where I tested different ways to heal myself. Two birds, one stone.”

“I deliberated for days…”

“When we meet a few weeks later, His Holiness kisses my hand and tosses his thongs aside. We sink into adjacent hotel room lounge chairs. I still don’t have my one question. So, I ask the most authentically pressing thing in that exact moment: How do I get my mind to shut up?”

“You know, to stop the fretty chatter that makes us so nervous and unsettled and unable to grasp the ‘present moment’ at the end of yoga classes when the instructor talks about it as though it’s something you can buy off the shelf.”

“His Holiness giggles and blows his nose on a paper serviette, shoving it down the front of his robe like my Year 4 teacher used to. ‘There’s no use,’ he tells me. ‘Silly! Impossible to achieve! If you can do it, great. If not, big waste of time.’”

“But surely you can do it, I say.”

“I mean is the Pope a Catholic; can the Dalai Lama still his mind?”

”’Noooo. If I sit in a cave for a year on mountain, then maybe I do it. But no guarantee.’ He waves his hand. ‘Anyway, I don’t have time.’ He has better things to do, he tells me. Like teaching altruism to massive crowds around the world.”

Participants’ Reflections:

• Virus is teaching us to be present

• Book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway has tools for redirecting chatterbox

• How fragile a sense of safety is

• It's okay to not be with family for Passover seder. Always another day to be with others

• When waking in that predawn hour, it's a ripe time to love self and surround self, sets the day

• We are in charge of our minds. In that vulnerable morning state, we can orient towards positive.

Set intention the night before

• Pacing ourselves helps.

• Heart needs attention too.

• Don’t let mind take over

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