In Pema Chodron's lectures from Don't Bite the Hook, she tells the following story:
Imagine that there is a man who is barefoot. Everywhere he walks, he steps on sharp things - stones, thorns, briars. His feet are cut and burned and frozen at different times. And he thinks to himself, What I need to do is to cover the entire world with soft leather, so that nothing will ever hurt my feet again! But where could he ever come up with that much leather? And then a second thought comes: Oh! What if I just covered my feet with soft leather? Now, that I could do!
Chodron likens that thorny, prickly world to the things that bother us, things that make us uncomfortable or angry or annoyed or sad. The lesson is that instead of trying to make all of those troublesome things go away, by covering them up, what we must do instead is train the mind, cover our feet, so to speak.
During my recent days of stress and anxiety and sadness, I must admit that there was a part of me that wanted to cover up the world. I wanted there to be no suffering, no pain, no loss. I wanted to make it all go away.
I did, last night, finally, sit. And those thirty minutes gave me more peace than I had felt since this trouble started on Friday. That is Chodron's lesson - keeping the heart open (the world uncovered, with all its flaws), and training the mind (finding equanimity even in the face of loss).
Maybe if I do it a million more times, it is a lesson that I will learn.