Can You Be with What Is?

This morning as I settled into my meditation cushion for my sit, I could feel my chest tighten and an army of “shoulds” line up at the door. As is typical in May with end of school-year activities, I am juggling too much on the work, home and relationship front and am teetering on the edge of overwhelm.

But as I sat and breathed … and sat and breathed … and finally, released, it became clear my anxiety was self-imposed and it all centered around expectations of how things should be. If I trust and “let go” of the outcome-I am able to relax into this vast sense of peace. And wow, does that feel delicious!

Photo: The Buddha at Villa Sumaya retreat center makes it look so easy to be with what is.

One of the reasons I meditate before I begin work each day is to gain perspective. My perceived problems don’t vanish after a 20 minute practice, but they often take on a different flavor or hue. And, more than anything, I become more comfortable being with what is. (Read my tips for starting a meditation practice.)

Over time, I’ve come to realize three things: 1) if I can accept where I am without trying to change, it can provide a sweet sense of freedom, 2) I won’t die, drown or implode if I allow myself to truly feel what I’m feeling; it’s key to healing and 3) joy and bliss–just like pain and fear–come and go, too. Don’t get too attached to any one feeling; they’re all here today and gone tomorrow. Kind of like the constantly changing weather.

Some of the things that have helped me learn to be with what is, include:

Having a strong support network, a tribe, that can provide support and validation for the incredible, messy journey of being human (check out our Personal Renewal Groups and consider joining a group or facilitating groups for women in your area as a RTA-Certified Facilitator; these powerful groups have had an enormous impact on my healing over the past 15 years).

Practicing self-compassion and being gentle with myself especially when I know I’m “triggered” and navigating intense emotional terrain. I often place a hand over my heart when I need to invite in self-acceptance. Consider attending one of my upcoming retreats,  which are focused around cultivating self-compassion.

Keeping the big picture (read cultivating a 30,000 foot view) and being around friends who can help me pull back and gain perspective.

Breathing and conscious movement: whether it’s through pranayama (balancing breath work), yoga, qi gong, energy medicine or walking with a dear friend-these practices really help us navigate strong emotions, which are simply “energy in motion!”  (Check out our free self-care comfort cards for a visual reminder to move and breathe.)

When discomfort arises (which it will, again and again), I keep returning to this reminder: remember to breathe, stay present, feel what’s coming up and continue to ask, “Can I be with what is right now and be ok?” Yes, I can.


SUPPORT FOR BEING WITH WHAT IS:  Here are three opportunities:

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance/mindfulness coach/speaker and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-care groups based on her award-winning curriculum.  She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 15 year-old son. More on her background here.