CBCT® Cognitively-Based Compassion Training, has given me a chance to reevaluate the purpose and current trajectory of my life. It has pointed my nose in a direction allowing me to become who I might hope to be. Or at least give it my best shot!
It has allowed me to acquire a strong and confident backbone, while simultaneously being able to exhibit a soft front with an open heart. Let me proclaim, without too much historical extrapolation, that this opening back up to the world, from a compassionate stance was no small feat. I had previously defined my life by a measurement of trust, or rather broken trust in all nouns, (people, places, and things). My past experiences dictated how my present was going to be, and I was conditioned to titrate how connected I would allow myself to feel in each moment. This basically added up to being a sliver of connection, while the rest of me remained untouchable, distant, heading for the life of a reclusive lone ranger.
CBCT was an experience that significantly and quite literally filled me with breath. Enough breath to fill a narwhal cavity. Re-connecting me to purpose and priority. Of course connection is innate, and important and our well-being is nourished by it. In many ways, CBCT® has down-sized my life. It has shaped my furious, ramshackled and uniformed thoughts, and calmed my “elephant-mind.” It put everything into slow-motion and allowed my vision to upgrade to High-Definition. It also provided me the courage to have a “garage sale” on my friends, and a wisdom to see clearly the relationships that provided nourishment, safety, security, understanding, and love. In hindsight, it is quite clear to see the people that are not providing nurturing moments, and my exhaustive efforts and expectations for them to do so.
I was a good student in my life, always applying assiduousness and voracity to excel, to solve problems, and to illuminate what I didn’t understand. But, I was ingrained with a suspecting, doubting and interrogative mind that operated largely out of a fear of being duped. I fought like a gladiator and entered the hard, conniving shrewd business world of “having to be right.” With this erudite ego, I also took a good crack at wrongdoing and defiance. I committed my lackluster efforts to fighting injustice, adrenaline pumped by sticking up for the underdog, and when injustice wasn’t present, I am sure I created some.
It was not until I took Geshe La’s CBCT class that I began to consider seeing beyond my ordinary seeing. What? Softness is a way? And it is not weak? Dictated and tethered by my painful past, right up until the words “gentleness” and “self-compassion” entered my life. Like a coconut dropping on my head, I came to the realization that there was more to life than what I had previously thought or believed. Despite all of my accolades and academic endeavors, I was beginning to realize how woefully unprepared I was in my life, and could now clearly see how I had been operating out of a shiftless fashion. Like a socialite at a party always on the lookout for someone better to talk to at a party, my professional career, and personal life seemed to be swayed by impulsivity and “either-or” decisions. CBCT became an “and” philosophy. It is an expansion philosophy that keeps on getting better the more you commit to it in your daily life. It becomes a choiceless choice that is the modus operandi in your every day moments, even the mundane ones. I began to recognize that all things have a place in the curriculum. Essentially everything in your life, all becomes a part of the curriculum. My values, the hard and soft news I watch, including the fluff pieces, my parenting, my marriage, the way I treat my neighbors, the way I treat my adversaries, but perhaps most importantly, how I treat myself. It was Jack Kornfield who said, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
CBCT allowed me a pragmatic way to train in freeing myself from my thoughts and a sensate grounding into my present moment. It helped me dismantle my past that previously seemed so iron-clad, and I am no longer being swayed like a tumbleweed across the land. It helped me better understand my history and is making me feel more engaged and emotionally connected to my life.
There was a specific moment in Geshe La’s class where I sat there with all the other brave and courageous participants, and I made up my mind that I was going to keep loving. No matter what! I was going to keep opening my eyes and exposing my heart. It was like a riptide opening my sliver of connection, finally allowing pure joy in. This doesn’t come without fear, or pain and suffering, and it is not predetermined. But my back is held straight and strong with confidence and my front is soft and open pointed in a direction of who I want to become.