Tigers, mice and strawberries.

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Tigers, mice and strawberries.

Pema Chödrön teaches in a way that I understand deeply, fully, first time, every time.

It’s like tapping into a universal source of knowledge that has always been there.

Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by so many bloody ‘things’. Problems, goals, dreams, behaviors, neuroses, people. All of it.

And what are we to do when there are problems above and problems below?

Eat a strawberry, of course.

From The Wisdom of No Escape, page 25:

“There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly, blissfully even. Tigers above, tigers below.
This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.”

This is my favorite story from the chapter in the book that explains ways for us to cultivate joy inside ourselves—to learn to serenade and tame the tigers we struggle with in our heads.

Whether we are literally eating strawberries and enjoying their intense color and sweetness, or choosing to cultivate joy and happiness—just for a moment—we also need to develop physical and soulful ways of coping with the ‘darker’ emotions of sadness, grief, hopelessness, stress and anger. We don’t get rid of these emotions, says Pema Chödrön. We make friends with them in order to control them with precision, gentleness, and our ability to let them go.

About the author

Jamie Elkon http://shrinkrap.co.za/

The author can be found rummaging through life looking for nourishment in the early hours of the morning. He is slowly going sane by using his actual life and relationships to wake up.He lives in Cape Town with his teenaged daughter, two bassett hounds named Thelma and Louise and Digit... the cat. He hugs trees, has experienced numerous dark nights of the soul, collects incorrect Chinese packaging and tracks curious things to their lair.