I once heard Davidji of the Chopra Center say those words, tongue-in-cheek, but his point resonated – when we make the effort to stay connected to our Source and let go of trying to control outcomes, the most amazing things can happen, not the least of which is that we end our own suffering.
I find that there is freedom through discipline and commitment. My experience is that the things in life which have expanded me at the deepest levels came through consistent, dedicated practice (i.e. meditating, writing, exercising, eating healthy, doing meaningful work, maintaining authentic relationships, overriding self-limiting habits and pausing to respond to something instead of react.) Practice of any sort requires discipline, being present, and being mindful – real effort and work, to be honest. But for me, the payoff it has brought is completely worth the price of admission. Sometimes I practice well. Sometimes I don’t. I live in a constant state of course-correction, but I’m becoming more comfortable with that.
2013 was an amazing year for me – transformational, my best yet in terms of becoming a more content, open-hearted person. It happened because I committed to shining a bright light into the dark corners of myself and seeking to understand what underlies my self-limiting habits, and then trying to replace them with something better. I considered myself pretty self-aware, but not letting my ego prevent me from taking a deeper look was the biggest gift I’ve ever given myself. And making honest-to-goodness self-care a priority changed me for the better as a parent, friend, and wife. I’m also pretty sure that I’m easier to live with. Hell, I find myself easier to live with. And I have come to firmly believe that when I take care of myself, it’s better for the world around me because everything that ripples out from a contented, satisfied, fulfilled, and happy me carries a healthier, more loving energy into the world and to those I meet.
In the aftermath of a deep conversation I had on New Year’s day, I’ve set a new practice into motion. Every morning before I meditate, I set an intention to practice self-care in three essential ways throughout the day: physically, mentally/intellectually, and spiritually/emotionally. I set that intention, and then spend the day letting go of the need to know or engineer what form each of those things will take. My experience has led me to believe without a doubt that no matter where I am, no matter the situation I find myself in, it is exactly where I am supposed to be because no experience is ever wasted – they all have something to teach me. I believe this because, literally, the “worst, scariest” experiences I’ve had were the very things that shifted me onto a path of soul growth so profound that I didn’t even know it was possible.
So, in 2014, I’m dedicated to practicing radical acceptance as I move through my hours and days mindfully. I want to be in the effortless flow of life. When I fall out of the raft and find myself in roiling waters, I’m going to remember to turn my feet downstream and float through the rapids, above the tangle of things that could catch and hold me, and around obstacles. I am going to practice being non-resistant, like flowing water. Because when I focus on asking for what I need and want, and then let go of trying to control outcomes, the Universe consistently rolls out experiences along my path more amazing than anything I could have engineered.
Pain in life is inevitable, suffering is optional.
I leave you with this, by Mark Nepo: “I think we are all continually asked to learn how to ask for what we need only to practice accepting what we are given… What’s so important about this for me is that asking for what we need doesn’t always lead to getting what we need. Sometimes it does and that’s great. But the reward for asking for what we need is that we become intimate with our own nature. We learn who we are by standing in who we are. The reward for practicing accepting what we’re given is that we become intimate with everything that is not us. We become intimate with the nature of life. And it’s the rhythm between our own nature and the nature of life that allows us to find the thread WE are in the unseeable connections that hold everything together.”