I’m having a really difficult time right now “Being with what is.” My son continues to eat foods he’s intolerant to that make him crazy irritable (welcome to middle school), my beloved after 20 years, is still not the handy-man I wish he was, my childhood friends who are really in a tough place–still refuse to ask for help, and one of my new wellness clients, despite my solid, strategic business counsel, continues to make marketing choices that are running their organization into the ground.
These things are not going to change. I know this. Yet I’m fighting “what is,” and can’t seem to get over the surprise, indignation and irritation these external events–and the unhappy thoughts they’re stirring up–are causing me!
My parents were big fans of author and spiritual teacher Ram Dass, and when their older children would get bored and beg to be taken to the movies or the mall, they often responded by telling us to “Be here now!” That directive hardly registered in my teenage ears, nor did any of us succeed at it very often or for very long, but Lord knows my parents tried.
The phrase “Be here now” –and my recent frustrations outlined above–flooded back to me last weekend as I sat on the couch with a nasty full-body cold and wanting to be . . . anywhere but where I was. Sick. At home. Immobile. Many stress-management gurus and mindfulness teachers believe the answer to everything is to just “be here now” or to “be with what is.” Many of them say all suffering and emotional distress would end if we simply stopped resisting being in the moment. If we embraced the “now.” I agree with this principle, but it’s no doubt challenging when your head is about to split in two, your body feels like wet spaghetti, and your nose is running like a faucet.
But I know that discomfort often brings amazing gifts, so I explored what would happen if I stopped resisting my uninvited house guest. As I watched the things I was missing that day fly out the window — my friend’s party, my son’s piano recital, working on the garden, cleaning my office — and surrendered, connected to my breath, and felt myself arrive in the present moment, I could feel my resistance dissipate. A sense of peace and quiet slowly settled over me. I temporarily suspended my desire for things to be different, and as I released my expectations about relationships, work, and obligations, out went their siblings: worry, anxiety, and stress. On the couch with a head cold was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Byron Katie, author and world-renowned spiritual teacher, says, “Arguing with reality is like trying to teach a cat to bark—hopeless.” Ok Katie, baby steps. Bit by bit, my grip is loosening.
IMAGINE: What is one thing that is really nagging at you (that you can’t seem to let go of)? Now imagine what it feel like for you to stop trying to change this person or scenario … you decide that your peace of mind is more important than feeling right. You stop fighting reality and surrender to what is. How does this affect your well-being? Feel any different physically? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
INVITE: One of the best ways to mobilize a shift in perspective (besides meditating) is to work with a seasoned, top-notch career or life coach. My company Career Strategists has been helping professionals of all ages from around the globe since 1999 mindfully align who they are with what they do. Email or call for a free initial phone consult.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by work-life balance speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal 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 12 year-old son. More on her background here.