Here I am in my 40+ years, I can already feel a bit of anxiety in my chest talking about this, so many transitions and changes in life. Not only am I getting older, but I’m watching my children get older. Yes they still need me, but they are definitely showing their independence. Of course that makes me happy to see them mature, but honestly it also makes me feel a little bit of grief and sadness. The growing pains of being a parent and honestly just being a human being. In my neighborhood, my husband and I are the ”older parents“ now. I find myself holding my neighbor’s children and this causes me to have so many flashbacks of memories when my girl’s were that young. Sometimes I wish I could just hit pause and make it go slow motion. Of course life is clearly ever changing and never the same from one day to the next. But somehow my brain likes to think so, maybe as a coping mechanism to feel a little more in control. Regardless if I resist or let go, life goes on.
I’m reminded by the beautiful words of Buddhist monk, Thich Nacht Hanh’s “Be Free Where You Are.”. It is one I continually hope to integrate into my daily life. To me, it speaks what mindfulness is- accepting life as it is in this moment. Not ”One day when I feel…,” “one day when I overcome…,” “one day when this passes…,” “one day when I achieve…,” then I will be “happy” or be “free.” It’s easy to accept things when they are going our way, but when things don’t, it’s the resistance to life that causes us pain and suffering.
Can I hold space for both joy and suffering? Yes there is space for it all.
I remember at one point when I was dealing with quite a bit of anxiety , I went to a counselor and I somehow had convinced myself that by doing so, the anxiety would magically disappear. That was my motive, go see a counselor talk it through and bam “gone,” in hopes it would never come back for a long time.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like feeling some of these emotions, that I would tend to label as negative. It tends to make me feel out of control. What I have learned though is it is possible to have space for it all. Life isn’t perfectly mapped out. There are twists and turns, some more difficult than others. I just needed some guidance and practices to do so. I needed to learn how to change my relationship towards them and how to be the awareness behind these ever changing emotions and thoughts.
Reminders for me:
1) Life is impermanent and always changing as well as emotions and thoughts.
2) It’s impossible to keep it all in check and “perfect.”
3) We are human and are going to have these ups and downs as we navigate this thing called “Life.” I don’t think we are meant to be happy 24/7, however we can make space for joy through all moments.
I do believe we resist because we are trying to control a situation in order to protect ourselves. Life is duality. It isn’t perfect nor is it supposed to be. We experience light and dark, joy and sadness. Avoidance of this truth=Suffering. Duality in life is inevitable whether we like it or not. I think I have clung onto perfectionism as a means to protect myself and shield myself from the disappointments in life.
How do we find peace, acceptance, non-judgment?
I believe we can find that balance within ourselves. The wisdom within us knows how to self-heal. I have learned that sitting in stillness and listening to myself helps center and ground me. Sometimes asking the question, “What do I need right now?” and offering myself self-compassion, love, and non-judgement helps me land in the here and now.
It can be found through mindfulness and meditation, sitting in the uncomfortable, breathing deeply-sitting in our presence. Breath will always bring us to the present moment. It will help provide us with some relief in those moments of worry, anxiety, sadness, grief, and anger. There is space for all of it. We can have freedom in those moments. ” Lean into the discomfort,” Brene’ Brown, instead of running away from it. As Thich Nacht Hanh says,” The Way out is In.”
I have slowly learned (still learning) to acknowledge these moments and not to run away from them. I take a look at an emotion/feeling and say, “I see you ……I embrace you, I accept you, and give you compassion.” Breathe into it and embrace it all without becoming attached to any of it. It doesn’t mean that things will change immediately, but we can find some comfort, peace, and space.
I don‘t think freedom is found by always seeking or searching until that “perfect moment in time.” We can find peace and freedom in the here and now by simply being in the present moment, by accepting ourselves exactly where we are.
Here are beautiful words and a teaching from Thich Nacht Hanh,
”If an arrow hits you, you will feel pain in that part of your body where the arrow hit;
and then if a second arrow comes and strikes exactly at the same spot, the pain
will not only double, it will become at least ten times more intense…
The unwelcome things that sometimes happen in life (being rejected, losing a valuable object, failing a test, getting injured in an accident) are analogous to the first arrow. They
cause some pain. But…
The second arrow, fired by our own selves, is our reaction, our storyline, and our anxiety.
All these things magnify suffering.”
I want to share this meditation with you,
Take your hands and place them at your heart center.
Be at home in your heart,
Deep Breath in and out,
Settle in and feel the connection to the ground
(Feel the breath and the expansion through your ribs and back)
Breathing in, I feel my in breath,
Breathing out, I feel my out breath,
(Repeat aloud or to yourself)
I am safe here within,
Connecting to Self,
I am at Peace,
I am Calm,
(Notice what comes up- what emotions-/thoughts-without judgment or giving it a story- just let them be and pass through. You can recognize and accept what is there.)
All are welcome,
I embrace all of my emotions and thoughts and give compassion, love, and acceptance to all of them.
I Am Being,
I Am Calm,
I trust Mother Earth/Universe
I embrace all that is in this moment.
What is freedom?
Freedom is willing to be vulnerable and open. The willingness to be open to what is before us. The willingness to simply be human. We all want happiness and joy in our lives. It is the common bond in humanity. I believe this can be achieved by turning inward and allowing things to be as they are with as little resistance as possible. We are all human and not alone in navigating this thing called “life.”
Wishing you peace, love, and joy always,