Doesn’t it often feel like that which we seek to evade only seems to chase us further. I’m talking about the internal struggle. Whether we are trying to give up alcohol, cigarettes, drug abuse, gambling or porn, our resistance to our current state only serves to strengthen the underlying cravings and energies associated with them. Whether we are dealing with an addiction as a means of escapism, or are wishing away our current predicament of why me, our resistance to what currently is only serves to deepen our sense of struggle.
SURRENDER TO WHAT IS
Ever watch an inspirational video of how an individual who has gone through major adversity has overcome such challenges. Whether this individual has become a paraplegic, lost one or more limbs or lost a key faculty such as eye sight, we are left in awe at this incredible soul’s ability to adapt and overcome their current misfortune. What we often learn is that after a degree of self-pity and self-loathing, the individual learns to take their recovery and adaptability one moment at a time. While popular media may not refer to this as enlightenment, it is this awakened sense of being vs thinking in the ‘I’ mode that allows the individual to propel forward. With a sense of surrender to what is, which helps in the diminishing of the ego, which by its very nature is always holding onto a sense of ‘I’, drawing comparisons, fretting about the past and anticipating the future, one is able to live in the moment and take life as it comes.
One when is dealing with anxiety, we are dealing with an overactive flight or fight response. The amygdala, or reptile brain, has evolved over thousands of years to help us in a situation of danger. However, in the modern world, the vast majority of us are not fighting in a life or death situation on a daily basis. However, our anticipation of events, such as, whether our boss will reprimand us, whether we will fail that exam or what may happen to our investments, triggers this flight or fight response. Given that there is no physical danger to ward off, our bodies are secreting adrenaline without an appropriate physical response needed. And that’s fine, even though it’s misplaced – if we simply let it be there. However, many of us will question why our bodies are going through a stage of discomfort, and through our sense of ‘I’, wish this discomfort away, as opposed to accepting what is. Our acceptance of what is - as uncomfortable as it may be, will allow our bodies to return to their natural state. Even if our minds appear to be on overdrive, this energy eventually subsides as we let what needs to pass, pass.
Similarly with depression, one can fall into a habit of ruminating about the past and what may have been. While it is easier said than done, a surrender to our current circumstance is the only option that allows inspiration to flow through. Unlearning the habit of resistance does not mean we stay idle and no longer do anything. Instead, it means with a deeper acceptance of where we are, we can allow solutions to manifest in their due time, without putting undue stress on yourself and staying on the hamster wheel of thinking. Thinking, is trying to find a solution to a problem that it perceives. This, my friends, is circular, and is doomed to leave us confused.
STAYING GROUNDED DURING THE ‘GOOD’ TIMES
It is worth noting that an acceptance of things when they are good is of equal importance. Holding onto a sense of ‘joy’ or not wanting to depart with our current way of doing things, if it has yielded results in the past, is only keeping us mired in a concept of what is working, as opposed to what needs to happen in the moment. Only by being in the moment, surrendering to the present and slowly relinquishing the hold of the ego or ‘I’ can we truly see what is important and best for us moving forward. It is no wonder that us ordinary humans marvel at the feats of the greatest of athletes – they, at least in this area of their life, are able to regularly move out of their heads and into their bodies. This is where their ‘flow’ state is achieved, where they are deeply committed to the process of doing and are no longer caught in their heads. You will often hear athletes who have risen to the very pinnacle of their sport mention how they were obsessed with rankings or awards at an earlier point in their life, but once they stayed committed to the process and let go of wanting all possible accolades, that things really started to flourish for them.
LIVING FROM AN INTEGRATED PLACE
Again, this is all great in theory, but much harder to implement if it seems like a contrived exercise. Our daily ‘practice’ of sitting with ourselves and watching our thoughts and sensations go by for a few minutes a day will take us inwards towards our true self, where we can acknowledge that all thoughts and feelings come in and out of our consciousness, and that we no longer have to hold onto every fleeting sensation.
Envy held onto becomes jealousy. There is nothing wrong with an envious thought popping into our head – I am not saying we need to fight our conditioning. It is the holding onto of this energy that creates jealousy and a repetitive story in our heads in the longer run. Fear held onto turns into anxiety. Joy held onto creates excitement and eventually irritability. If we let ourselves be in the moment, without resisting what is, we will eventually be able to stay in a neutral place. And then, when we are joyous, or sad, or angry, we can experience those emotions without them ruling over us. From this integrated place, we can start to live a more balanced and fulfilled life.