Tuesday, November 25, 2014


 photo rose-petals_zpsrt71yesc.gif

"But listen to me: for one moment,
quit being sad. Hear blessings
dropping their blossoms 
around you. God."

- Rumi

There's something about the internet perhaps that makes me forget what I really want. It sets up in me a sort of dissatisfaction. It's not always like that. But sometimes.

Pema Chodron describes Shenpa in this way:

Someone criticizes you. They criticize your work or your appearance or your child. At moments like that, what is it you feel? It has a familiar taste in your mouth, it has a familiar smell. Once you begin to notice it, you feel like this experience has been happening forever. 
The Tibetan word for this is Shenpa. It is usually translated as "attachment," but a more descriptive translation might be "hooked." When shenpa hooks us, we're likely to get stuck. We could call shenpa "that sticky feeling." It's an everyday experience. Even a spot on your new sweater can take you there. At the subtlest level, we feel a tightening, a tensing, a sense of closing down. Then we feel a sense of withdrawing, not wanting to be where we are. That's the hooked quality. That tight feeling has the power to hook us into self denigration, blame, anger, jealousy, and other emotions which lead to words and actions that end up poisoning us.


You can scroll through your FB feed and see all these great things that people are doing. Fancy book launches, tours, interviews, meeting cool people. Their books are reviewed widely. In general, the grass is always greener. I get hooked. And I forget, really, that all I want is to write, to have some solitude, to not have to worry so much. I want time to write in my diary, in my notebook. Time to look out the window. To read the books I love.

One very good piece of advice that Pema Chodron gives out in No Time to Lose, the book where she works through Shantideva's The Way of the Bodhisattva, is this:

She says, "One way to guarantee to rejoice in the good qualities of others. Not only is this an antidote for envy, it also generates warmth and brings us heartfelt joy. When we begin to appreciate the kindness and courage of others, we find pleasure everywhere. Dzigar Kongtrul calls this, "rejoicement therapy."

I thoroughly believe in rejoicement therapy. But I also believe in turning it all off, too. Creating a balance. Which in all honesty, I've been quite terrible at lately. I also believe in the blessings which drop their petals all around me.

For example, Chloe. Who made the GIF above, from a short video I shot of her dropping rose petals into my stone bowl. 


  1. This post, Shawna, resonates so deeply for me. All of my life (53 years of it!) as far as I can remember, I have been so often in a state of Shenpa in one way or another. I lack self-confidence on most days, so that when I have any little setback (which could be as small as perceiving how green the grass is on the other side), I feel deflated. And, yes, you're right, my daily internet activities can certainly exacerbate these feelings. I agree wholeheartedly with your second to last paragraph. I too believe in needing a balance - whatever balance that is for each individual. Thanks so much for this post. Your daughter's GIF is simply beautiful.

    1. Lynn, thank you. I sometimes feel like, wow! by 48 years of age, I should be better at dealing with the whole shenpa thing :) I make progress, then I regress. I tell myself this is normal, haha.

  2. I gasped when those petals started dropping! It was so magical, especially for a luddite like me . . . Lovely photos and wonderful words. I like being reminded that people are fundamentally the same everywhere.


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