The last few months have been so so stressful. More than the level of stress I anticipated for my life in the foreseeable future. As I wrote before, I did not have the feeling, that what I had learned along the way, was helping much. Sure, a little bit. Otherwise, I would be sick all the time – Which I was hardly at all! Yaaaaay! – or flipping out every single day – Which I am not! Really happy about that! So yeah, some progress, but as I wrote before, it felt like a lot of regress, too.
So what to do? I had to think about my meditation teacher, how when he was going through some heavy stuff his teacher told him: “If you can’t go left or right, back or forth, up or down – stay exactly where you are.”
What this advice translates for me into is the following: If you’re fighting what is, not allowing it, wanting to change it because you think it is an inherently bad thing, you are building up the tension. You can have that reaction to most situations and feelings, except for the few, that you declare as “good”. In this way of reacting to the world, you create more and more stress, pain and suffering for yourself, because you fight it all. Instead, when you stay exactly where you are, relax into it, it starts changing at some point anyway and you didn’t have to create a storm on top of whatever it is you experienced.
That’s basically one of the fundamental Buddhist messages. But as it often is with these teachings, we need to find different ways to translate it, to make it accessible. A metaphor can do that for you. And this one, not moving in any direction, because you can’t and just staying with yourself, somehow clicked for me. Maybe because it is so vividly spacious. This picture of my teacher sitting in total despair and pain but not moving out of it, but rather allowing it and starting to opening up again through not fighting it seems very close to what can be attainable. It seems like such a simple instruction.
In the chaos of the past few months, I really tried to implement this instruction into my life. But it would not work. I wanted everything to be different. I wanted things to change. I wanted to not have to go through whatever was awaiting me.
Part of it was because I had the feeling I had worked so hard to experience a richer and fuller life. One that puts the truth of love and expansion first. And it had given me wonderful results. But only in a very reclusive way of living. Now that things were changing a lot, without me giving a permission to that, I started opposing what was happening. At first a bit, then more and more and lastly with so much tension, anger and frustration.
Life pulled me out of my cocoon, out of my recovery unit. Because you can’t stay in hiding forever. And what works in a controlled environment, does not work the same way anywhere else. My progress was real. I did not imagine that. I know it. It just seems like it was time to take things to the next level.
And guess what? The next level is always not mastered yet, will always involve challenge, frustration, tension, anxiety, doubt and quite some drama! You are going to curse a lot, fight with yourself, others and god or life itself, until you figure it out and realize you just have to do it all over again, right here in that new scenario: relax into the presence, don’t run, don’t hide, just be and breathe and trust.
At the moment I am at that point, where I am starting to get little glimpses of what mastery of this particular lesson could look like. And that is so motivating! So I’m on it! I am slowly progressing again…one breath at a time.
Progress is not linear. Life is not linear. Everything is more of a spiral with many, many turns around the axis in my experience.
So don’t get discouraged. Don’t think you are doing things wrong, or everything you thought you learned was for nothing or you are not capable! Because you are so capable! Just take a deep breath and stick with the program 🙂
Can you see your progress over time? What kind of feelings do challenging life situations evoke in you? Can you try and relax into them?
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