Life isn’t the struggle you think it is
Each day, we wake up and go through our morning routine. We brush our teeth, bathe, get dressed, have breakfast and head to work. We get there and do our time. Maybe it was a good day, maybe it wasn’t, maybe we don’t even know, don’t care – it just was. And then we get home, greet the family, make dinner, watch some TV, go to bed, get up the next day and do it all over again.
As we go about these daily activities, sometimes we’re met with a feeling of exhaustion: That despite everything we do, we still aren’t any closer to achieving our goals or attaining that next thing we’re shooting for. There may even be a sense of claustrophobia as we consider the possibility that this is it. That all we have to look forward to is this same thing, over and again, until we retire. And this feeling can be particularly stifling if we know, beyond a doubt, that the work we do, the way we spend more of our days, is simply not in alignment with our dreams. “What am I doing here?” we might even ask ourselves.
This claustrophobia starts as a subtle feeling of general discontent – a static that runs in the background of every aspect of our lives. We might not even be aware of it at first. There’s just something that prevents us from sitting still. If we DO try to sit for a moment, we start to feel a little crazy. How many of us are always moving in some way, even when we think we’re sitting still? Maybe you’re tapping your foot right now…
We have to keep ourselves busy – cleaning the house; planning a vacation; shopping; eating; eating AND watching TV; eating, watching TV AND thinking about what we’re going to do next. We pursue the next job, the next girlfriend, the next beautiful view, the next fun thing to do. The static of discontent fuels these pursuits, creating within us a hunger that can never truly be satisfied. We can’t sit still, but we don’t even know why. We gravitate towards things that we think will help us feel better. Feel better about what? About being ourselves. Grasping for anything, how surprised can we be when things don’t work out?
Over time (or sometimes quite suddenly), we become aware of the static and our unsuccessful attempts at pacifying that “something-just-doesn’t-feel-right” feeling. We see the struggle that we are engaged in, the struggle to be something we’re not. Whether it’s the job, the relationship, our friends, the place we live – when we become aware of the specific something that isn’t right, we are presented with an opportunity.
Not an opportunity to act. Not yet, anyway. This is simply an opportunity to rest in this space of awareness. Where we once weren’t sure of anything, we are now sure of what’s not working. There is power in this clarity. Once we know what’s wrong, the answer presents itself. So what’s next?
What would happen if we just surrendered? What if we just let ourselves fall into the moment, and allowed this moment to present us with whatever inspiration is needed for the next move?
This notion is scary at first. We’re so used to being in action. And now, when we’re the most fidgety, the most anxious and ready to DO SOMETHING, we just have to sit here? Yes. Sit and breathe.
As our mind swirls, we just sit and watch the thoughts, feeling the breath at the tip of the nose. Noticing the in-breath, feeling the out-breath. Being very close to the breath as it enters the nose, feeling its slight coolness, and being very close with the breath as you exhale, feeling its slight warmth on the out-breath. Slowly the thoughts begin to subside. Slowly our tension begins to melt. The shoulders might drop, you might feel yourself sinking slightly into your chair. Just notice. We are feeling into the moment. Feeling the sensations of being in this body, right here, right now.
Breathing in this way, the struggle that was our life, the struggle that was so convincing, begins to subside. Through the spaciousness that the breath provides, we begin to see another way. This “other way” does not arrive as a thought, a plan or another agenda for us to pursue. It arrives as a feeling, as a knowing. And the more we practice breathing in this way, the more the answers come.
When we take the time to simply sit and breathe, to rest in the unconditioned space of the present moment, we create the space for a new way of being to come through.
It is the way of gentleness. It is a path of non-aggression. It is a life beyond the struggle. And once we open to the possibility that it exists, the breath is the gateway.