“If we really want to address the whole issue of suffering, as well as our desire and yearning for freedom, love, and connection, then we need to learn how to look clearly at our own minds.” ~Adyashanti
Last week I wrote an e-mail to the subscribers at Live Bold and Bloom with the invitation to share with me their top five worries, fears, or disappointments in life. I requested this so that I could address some of these topics in my articles and future books and courses.
I received hundreds of responses, many of which revealed very painful situations and concerns. It became clear to me that all of us suffer with some degree of emotional pain and inner turmoil, whether or not we are generally satisfied with our lives. This turmoil keeps us from reaching our fullest potential and engaging fully in life.
Here are just a few of the worries and concerns that were expressed:
- getting out of debt and financial worries
- relationship conflicts and fear of loneliness
- feeling stuck in a rut and passionless
- desiring a meaningful life of purpose but not knowing how to get it
- lack of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-trust
- lack of focus, procrastination
- fear of failure and success
- fear of aging and death, fear that it’s too late
- boredom and feeling trapped in a job
- not having mental clarity about life
- not reaching goals and being disappointed
- fear of getting sick, not being healthy
- fear of the future, the unknown
One reader wrote this about relationships, but I think it applies to all of life’s difficulties:
“I often find myself in difficult conflict situations — some little, some large, often unsure what to do. They always confuse me, these conflicts. I’m never sure what I feel, what I think, what is truth, and what I should do. Actually, I always just shut down or leave.”
Isn’t that true of all of our inner conflicts? We are confused, we don’t know the truth, we don’t know what to do, so we shut down. We stay stuck or give up. We get sucked into a mental vortex of suffering fed by the powerful emotions that our conflicted thinking produces. It paralyzes us and keeps us trapped in a swirling cycle of worry, fear, and despair.
When you are caught in this mental vortex, you attempt to grasp for more control of your life as a means of escaping. But as with a riptide, the more you struggle to escape, the more fearful, exhausted, and trapped you become.
So what if you didn’t struggle against yourself anymore? Instead of arguing with what is, consider embracing the reality of right now.
Try this little exercise: pretend that you have no memory of the past, nor are you able to forecast the future. In fact, you have been given assurance that the future is going to unfold in a positive way. So you have no regrets, no past hurts you harbor, and no fears for the future. You can just relax into this moment right now.
When you take away the past and the future, what is the reality of this moment right now? It may be good or bad, but instead of trying to change this moment or focus on what you should or shouldn’t be doing, embrace what is. When you do this, you stop the mental conflict or the search for truth.
The Truth is the reality of right now. You have escaped the vortex for a moment, and it feels peaceful.
So what is the point of embracing what is happening right now if suffering might still be inevitable? Because being in opposition to what is creates its own kind of suffering through the resistance and struggle that is depleting and frustrating. And resisting the reality of “what is” cannot really change it.
So if we are not resisting, what happens when we embrace life exactly how it is, with the good, the bad, and the ugly?
In his book Falling into Grace, spiritual teacher Adyashanti suggests this:
We find ourselves able, in the moment of someone’s actual pain or in the middle of our own suffering, to connect very intimately, very purely, without any resistance. This opens up a door within us for an entirely different response — a response that’s not based in opposition. Instead, this intimacy and stillness guides us into a very precise and effective type of action, a kind of involvement born out of a deep inner connection with life and with others… . When we’re not responding out of conflict, division, and resistance, what manifests is pure compassionate action, wise action that comes from intimacy, stillness, and true connection. (p.133)
When you become the evaluator of the moment, the “ego” who is judging the situation as good, bad, painful, unworthy, etc., you separate yourself from reality and distance yourself from the experience. You become a commentator of your life rather than a fully-engaged participant.
However, when you release the struggle and engage in the moment, you open the door for your creative mind to produce solutions and actions naturally.
If you are like me, reading this concept of embracing reality and releasing judgment is a lot easier than actually doing it. The mind wants to grasp all of the “what ifs” and “shoulds” and arguments for dwelling in the past or future.
When you find yourself getting sucked back into that mental vortex, try this line of inquiry to help you escape. Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the reality of the situation in this moment — not what it should be or could be, but what it is?
- Can I sit with the reality of this situation right now without judging it or struggling against it? Can I allow myself to fully experience whatever I am feeling, even if it’s painful?
- Is there anything I can do in this moment to change the situation, and if so, am I willing to it?
- If I’m not willing to take action, can I just accept my unwillingness in this moment without judging it?
Another way to break the cycle of struggle and judgment is to have the willingness to question the conclusions you make about yourself or the situation you are in.
When you find yourself thinking, “This shouldn’t be happening” or “I don’t know what to do about this” or “I’m afraid I’ll never make enough money,” question the truth about these statements.
Find evidence to the contrary. For example:
- It should be happening because it is happening.
- I do know what to do about this because I have shown good judgment and made wise decisions before.
- I am making enough money because I have food to eat and a place to live right now.
Most of our negative thinking is either past or future focused. Use the reality of the present moment to shed a new light on the situation, and you will find that it diffuses the pain and confusion and clears the path for engaged living, peace, and growth.
In a few weeks, I will be releasing The Bold Living Guides: A Crash Course for a Better Life. There will be six guides on
- Self Awareness and Personal Growth
- Passion and Purpose
- Positive Change and Simple Productivity
- A Healthy Lifestyle for Mind, Body, and Spirit
- Amazing Relationships
- Professional and Financial Well-Being
They will be sold individually and as a set of six. Each guide has 15 chapters with practical actions and ideas for positive change in all areas of your life.
I will be offering a pre-launch special for my subscribers with lower pricing. If you would like to become a subscriber (no charge), please click here and receive my free guide 7 Key Ingredients for a Meaningful Life and two free videos.
If you enjoyed this article, please spread the word by Tweeting it and Liking it on Facebook. Give it a Stumble too! Thank you.