How often do you have the feeling of your life flowing with ease?
Very often life can feel like we’re wading though treacle. It takes a lot of effort to stay upright and on course. We feel like we’re not getting anywhere fast and the experience is, well, sticky, and unpleasant.
It can be tempting to blame our circumstances.
“I hate having this pain in my shoulder”
“Isn’t it about time I was promoted”
“There’s always so much stuff around. If only we had a bigger house”
“The trains are always late”
But actually the problem is more to do with how we respond to our circumstances. Specifically, either resisting what is here or wishing for something else other than what is here. Mentally, it takes a lot of effort to either be pushing away or grasping for things all the time. Even if we get what we want, the moment of pleasure is fleeting and then we’re back to resisting or grasping.
How many times when we’re resisting something does it go away? The pain? The late train? The rain? Not very often. I’m not talking about active resistance here either. Few of us actively try to resist the rain, but when we get angry or disgruntled about the rain, really, we’re resisting the reality that it is raining.
How many times when we wish for something else to be here does it come immediately? The new job? The new house? The sunny weather? We spend so much of our time thinking about, dreaming about this potential new reality, that we’re not allowing ourselves to be where we are right now.
Think of the days where life does flow. Maybe when you’re on holiday or with someone you really love. What happens? Normally we’re open to whatever experience we’re having. We’ve set down any aspirations or reservations and we’re content to just ‘be’ in the situation we’re in. This may sound idealised because holidays are obviously a unique case, but we can take this same allowing, accepting approach into our wider life.
We’re discussing this theme of ‘allowing’ in The Mindful Den this week and thinking about how we can apply it to our own practice. Allowing is in a sense, letting things be as they are. There are many small situations and experiences in life that we brace ourselves against, or wish away. The queue at lunchtime, the cold wind as we walk to the car, the red traffic lights. The skill of mindfulness is to observe our dislike or resistance to this circumstances and then to let it be, without judgement. Coming back to the present moment, perhaps by feeling our feet on the ground or focusing on the breath.
Just three small steps.
- Observe when we are resisting or grasping for something.
- Let it be without judgement.
- Come back to the present moment.
The more that you practice letting these small experiences just be, the more life will start to flow. Life will feel continuous and smooth, rather than stilted and effortful.
Give it a try over the next few days. See how it feels to let some of these experiences be and what impact it has on your day. If you’d like to join in a friendly group with weekly exercises to help you deepen your mindfulness, have a look at my new Facebook group ‘The Mindful Den’.