I have written about Shenpa a lot. The myriad of ways that we get stuck, react from a habitual emotional place, get hooked, we are in the present moment but our reaction is really the replay of ancient history. Really relatable. We all do it...a lot.
This concept of Shenlok is kind of the opposite. It means renunciation in Tibetan. As Westerners, we are somewhat unfamiliar with this concept as a culture. We are doers, deciders, reactors. We do the stuff. We aren’t all that big on waiting. And renuniciation requires that we in fact wait.
Shenlok works like this:
Your kids haven’t done their chores for the one millionth time. You are tired and had a long day. You are instantly irritated. The farther you walk into your domestic life, the more irritated you become as you see that the chores are the least of stuff that hasn’t been done. There are dirty dishes in the sink, the living room is in shambles and their dirty clothes are strewn about. Now, perhaps some of you more evolved people, this would not bother. But by the time I hit the kitchen, I am emotionally hitting the fucking roof. I am not a happy camper. My entire demeanor changes (not for the better) and I can feel my gut tightening.
This would be the place that I have historically lost my shit. Angry tirades about respect and boundaries and whatever else I can think to throw in. And it has never one time changed a fucking thing about their conduct.
I had to begin to change the habitual response by practicing renunciation. I had to fucking stop acting like a Looney Tune. I had to hold it in, and expand the space and open my heart which was the last damn thing I wanted to do.
Now I have done a lot of work around this particular issue. I have a mantra that I repeat before I walk through the door:
“My relationship with these teenagers is more important than the mess AND you are not a doormat. Search for the middle...Go for the love of all, including yourself”
This mantra is Shenlok. I am turning the Shenpa on its head. I am taking the usual stickiness of my thoughts and lubricating them. I am not biting the hook.
And the only way I have ever learned to even know that Shenpa is kicking my ass is to sit with the multiple ways I get all tangled up with others and their behavior. And, of course, with myself. I sit with it on the cushion and then I take the cushion with me when I leave.
Now, some who have observed my behavior would say that I do not even know what the hell a meditation cushion is let alone use one. Those would be the bad moments when Shenpa reigns like a fiery tyrant in my life. But I swear to all that is holy, that I do have moments of Shenlok. I fucking swear this is true!
I have a mind and habit that wants to close. Seal me off. Protect me. Shut it all fucking down. That is my natural response to anything painful, something I don’t like, fear...I am a hit the panic button and eradicate all that is in front of me kind of person...well, I used to be. I am not that person anymore.
It has taken a very long time. A fucking long time. But today, I can open to all of that nonsense. I can walk into my home after a grueling day and find my children splayed across the furniture without a care in the world and I can be grateful that I am able to provide them this childhood. One that is free from abuse, neglect, trauma and general awfulness of life. I can be happy that they are happy AND I can also address their absolute lack of concern for anyone but themselves...quietly, peacefully and with a tender, open heart. I can take a look at myself and see that it is really up to me. I can respond with anger, resentment and ire but that has never gotten me closer to anyone I love, ever.
Anger kills connection. So any habituated response that is angry is self defeating since I want to be the kind of person today that builds, maintains and attends to my relationships in a manner that causes me to move closer to those I love...not cut them off at the knees like I used to.
My knowledge of Shenpa and Shenlok help me do this. Evolve myself into the person who appreciates this life I have worked so hard to achieve. To appreciate the beauty and the gifts while dealing with the painful lessons in life that come regardless of what I want, whether I give my permission and, of course, whether I like it or not.
I can now drop into myself at any point in my life and find out that I do not have to respond the way that I always did. I can do something different, even if it is a tiny micro-adjustment in my conduct, small acts taken daily change the course of a life. Always.
It helps me to think of erosion. It begins usually with a tiny trickle. A small run off that eventually opens up over time and viola! We have the Grand fucking canyon! This is what I have been doing for years, eroding my relationships with a small trickle and then opening up a chasm that is too great to cross.
I can make changes today. I can open when I want to shut it all down, I can create space and expand the plain for my relationships. I can go for the love, even if I can only muster it for myself. In fact, that is perhaps the most important thing I have learned from meditation. If my mind is a constant war zone of addiction and suffering, my life will reflect that also. If my mind is calm, spacious and open my life is pretty fucking awesome.
It is up to me whether I do what I have always done or sit with the discomfort of doing something new. Leaning into myself and my pain and my discomfort has only brought me exponentially more joy. Thanks Shenlok, you fucking rock!