Awareness Training: I Notice, and I Take Delight

I’ve been listening to a set of CDs by Pema Chodron about Getting Unstuck. It’s my second time listening. I love the reinforcement. I too have conflict holes that lurk in my path, and regardless of my training, I sometimes fall in. It’s part of the nature of conflict to surprise us.

In Getting Unstuck, Pema Chodron calls these emotional triggers shenpa–the Buddhist word for “attachment”, but she says the word goes far beyond what we normally think of as attachment. Shenpa, she says, evokes a kind of stuckness or stickiness–the feeling we’ve been hooked, or hijacked by the emotion.

When you have the awareness that you are once again biting the hook, she suggests you say to yourself: “I notice shenpa. I take delight.”

I Take Delight

The teaching is that we learn to take delight in noticing ourselves getting hooked. I know. It is totally counterintuitive. If we’re lucky enough to notice ourselves getting hooked, we tend to judge and berate ourselves. What’s wrong with me?! I’m such a loser!

Yet, until you notice the hook, you can’t do anything about it.You will unconsciously act out the emotion each time because you aren’t there. You let the emotion–the shenpa–drive the action. But! When you can see yourself, even after the fact…. Ah! Everything is different. Because now you have awareness. Now you are conscious and can jump into the driver’s seat.

Smile at Yourself

Instead of berating yourself, think how fortunate you are to have this awareness. Take delight. Smile at yourself. Learn to love this moment of recognizing reaction. Judgment keeps you stuck. Smiling gets you unstuck.

Without judgment, visualize how you would like to have handled that situation and how you will, in fact, catch yourself and center yourself in the future. If you do this, next time you will notice sooner. The time after that, sooner still, until you notice soon enough to stop yourself and make a different choice. This is how new habits are formed.

Eventually, if you practice in this way, you won’t be hooked by this particular shenpa anymore.

Ride the Waves

Not to worry–there will be other opportunities. Do you really believe you’ll ever become free of shenpa, of attachment?

I’ve come to accept (most days!) that this being human is indeed a Guest House, as the poet Rumi writes. Each day we will be given new opportunities to smile at ourselves, invite our emotions in and learn to love them, until sooner and sooner and with less and less effort, we can ride the emotional waves and use them to further our power and presence.

About the Author:

Judy Ringer is the author of Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict, and the award-winning e-zine, Ki Moments, containing stories and practices on turning life’s challenges into life teachers. Judy is a black belt in aikido and nationally known presenter, specializing in unique workshops on conflict, communication, and creating a positive work environment. She is the owner of Power & Presence Training, and founder of Portsmouth Aikido, Portsmouth, NH, USA. To sign up for more free tips and articles like these, visit

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