Jenny Lomas says: This Helps

Jenny LomasIntroducing the next in our series of interviews, with chef Jenny Lomas. And I couldn’t resist including a photo of her dog Pema 🙂

What slogan helps you?
“_______ feels like this”. Example, “sadness feels like this”, “anger feels like this”.

How does this slogan help you?
It helps me to connect with my emotions with an attitude of curiosity and acceptance, without getting lost in the emotion, overwhelmed, or lost in the accompanying story in my mind. When I pay attention to how the emotion actually feels in the body I can see how it’s not a solid ‘thing’ and that it’s always changing and eventually will pass. When I separated from my partner for example, it helped to acknowledge “sadness feels like this”. I could see how the emotions progressed – ‘sadness’ can have hints of anger, grief, and even love and humour. I find that the stronger the emotion, the more helpful it can be to be aware of my body and not perpetuate the storyline in my mind. There hasn’t been any emotion that this slogan hasn’t helped me accept and befriend. Even ‘positive’ emotions like excitement, joy, peace etc. benefit from the same treatment! “Joy feels like this’ allows me to go deeper into the experience, and I feel it’s good to celebrate our ups as well as our downs!

PemaHow have you seen this slogan help others?
I’ve not really shared this with many people actually, but the few I have thought it was very helpful. The teaching comes from the wonderful Buddhist teacher Ajahn Sumedho. I know he has shared it with countless people in his dharma talks.

What else helps you when you feel stuck, when you are suffering, or when you are in need of inspiration?
Take time for me. I do a lot of metta practice (loving kindness). I don’t put time boundaries on how long this stuck feeling ‘should’ last. If I am feeling sad it’s okay – I never say to myself ‘you should be over this by now’. I believe my ability to take care of myself like this really is a result of several years of metta practice! I never would have been able to do this years ago.

What advice do you need to remind yourself of the most often?
“This too will pass”.

More about Jenny Lomas: Jenny is currently head chef at Aro Ha wellness retreat in the South Island of NZ, living with her puppy Pema and enjoying long hikes and swims in lake Wakatipu. She’s been cooking in retreat centres worldwide since 2010, and is a dedicated dharma student. She writes the occasional blog post at Cooking For Awakening. Jenny is mainly influenced by teachers in the western insight tradition led by Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzburg, and also the Thai Forest Tradition specially Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumehdo, and the Zen tradition including the teachings of zen master Dogen and Suzuki Roshi. Her main practices these days are metta and vipassana.

Read the other This Helps interviews as they appear here. These interviews are in celebration of my new book, ‘What Helps: Sixty Slogans to Live By‘.