Life doesn’t always go according to our plans. Things show up that we don’t like: rejection, illness, relationship struggles, school- and work-related disappointments, and more. The key is to welcome it all, as if you ordered everything you’ve been “served” off a menu. As if you chose it.
Yeah, right, you may be thinking. I didn’t order this fill-in-the-blank obstacle, heartache, or challenge. But what if you did? What if the particular hardship you’re facing right now is here for a reason? If you can’t quite accept that, consider this: resisting “what is” is exhausting, frustrating, and futile. It also creates suffering and amplifies pain, whether physical or mental. This magnifies misery and keeps us stuck.
The mind sees obstacles as problems with a capital “p,” and yet the heart asks, How can I love this, too? What’s here for me to learn? How can I love and care for myself as I’m going through this tough time?
Often the answer to this last question is to find a way to lay down your burden.
One way to do this is to sit quietly in some real or imagined place of natural beauty and listen.
Silence is a balm.
Let it seep in. Let it tickle your funny bone. Let it be your sweetest dance partner. Flirt with it. Wink at it. Be coy if you must, but welcome it. You won’t have to go looking for silence. It’ll come to you when the silt of your busy mind settles.
An entire world lives inside you. There’s more space in your mind and body than in the oceans of the world. Whatever challenges you face, there’s more working for you than against you. There’s more that’s right than wrong with you. You’re breathing. Your blood is circulating. You’re alive! Unspool your worry. Let it unravel. Drop it to the curb. Put it out with the trash and watch the noisy truck hoist your battered bin and carry away your cares.
Let yourself be enchanted by small, ordinary things: freshly fallen snow, a camellia blossom, a clear sky, the mineral-rich scent of damp earth, a cup of tea.
Resist the urge to gulp life. Sip it. Savor all the flavors. Peer underneath rocks and into dark places. Keep you eyes open. Feel what you feel, and resist the urge to make up scary stories about your problems and pains. Just be with the sensations. Bring love to them all.
Today it rained, which called to mind baptisms and how we each have the ability to renew ourselves, to cleanse and to purify, to claim new states of being, to begin again. And again. The rain inspired me to declare an open season on cherishing, to ask, What else? What else can I honor? What else can I admire? What else can I explore and appreciate?
When I ask these questions, grace descends unbidden, generous, and ample, and I float above my worries.
When you feel that you can no longer carry your burdens, ask, How can I let this go? How can I set it down? Wait for an answer.
I’ve learned not to trust my anxiety filter. When I’m anxious, a filter makes everything I look at and think about seem dangerous. I can look at those same things when the anxiety filter is not in place and feel hopeful, even joyful. Nothing has changed in the outside world. Only my perspective has shifted. This is the point of my new book, Where Do You Hang Your Hammock? How do you see the world, your work, and your place in it when the proverbial shit hits the fan and life is not what you expected or planned? How might a shift of perspective set you free?