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From Struggle to Ease

It is possible, without changing a thing.

I've been struggling with a health crisis that my spouse is in the middle of and it has turned our life a bit upside down. Traditional meditation, which has anchored me for so many years has not been helping me find my footing. However, I know that when my practice is most authentic, it has reached beyond the cushion and out into my life and relationships.

Being able to share my experience with others who are also in authentic practice- who don't parrot the misnomers of social conditioning around this health issue or who don't try to assuage my fears with good intention, but to be held inside of a wise relationship with loving kindness- this has been most helpful. It hasn't removed the struggle, it hasn't even tried to distract me from it. What it has done is given me a safe space to sit down in the middle of it without need to hide it or fix it or rush through it, or even figure it out- all things the unhealed parts of me want to do. And, I have been shown compassion for my lack of grace when my reactivities and emotions were not kind or in alignment because of my fears and pain.

In truth, this issue will be lifelong for my partner and it will impact everything moving forward. Reaching towards the wisdom keepers that I am blessed to have access to within Sangha (meaning spiritual community- in Buddhist practice) and elsewhere, and being held in authentic practice by others when my own skills feel tested, has not removed the struggle but it has helped me touch moments of ease and hope within the very circumstance.

So, how does one BE inside of a life challenge, or time of struggle and move from the sharpness of the fear or pain or even shock (as was the case for me) into a greater state of ease?

The response is nuanced, and as unique as we are as people. There is no one size fits all answer to this. But there are some steps we can take that move the energy we are grappling with. Steps that place us into life sustaining spaces versus withdrawl or avoidance, or even paralysis. When we avoid or withdrawl, it leads to auto-piloted coping strategies that may have gotten us through tough times in the past, but that may not be the best option now. It can also lead us into self-medicating options with our vice of choice. This could be through turning to food or drink or substances or misguided activities, in efforts to escape the pain.

Sometimes, society would have us shove it all down and pretend it doesn't affect us as much as it really is affecting us, to sweep it away through busy-ness or a pretense of positivity in hopes we fake it till we make it through. But this just leaves a festering wound somewhere inside that will eventually need our love and attention. And though, we can't air all our feelings in all venues, it is important to look towards people and resources that can offer us the safe space to BE in the mess of it, just as we are.

Currently, I am looking to those friends and family members who have the resources I lack. I am finding ways to share my experience that fit what I most need. I am taking steps to get my body moving because I know that we all hold our emotions in the body- so healthy movement like walking or swimming, doing Qi Gong or gentle stretching, dancing in my living room to my favorite music- these things help me move the energy- and sometimes I find myself laughing or crying as an emotion gets worked through me. I am eating fresh food- that takes no time to prepare, because my energy is low as I hold this all. So an apple with a handful of hazelnuts, or a berry with cashews- these simple things- bring joy and light to my plate and help me feel fresh. When in coping mode, I'd turn to fries or potato chips and then lay around binging on Netflix or some such withdrawing option. And, I step outside first thing in the morning to catch the first rays of sunlight in the day. And I make time to bookend each day with a glimpse of the sunset. This helps me feel the light that is available and keeps me in tune with natural rhythms. Sometimes, when I don't have the energy, I just hold the book I wish to read to learn more about the illness we are faced with. And it brings me comfort that there are others who navigate a similar path.

Steps we can take:

  • Turn towards life sustaining resources that bring towards us what we need: through healthy and supportive family members or friends and if those are not helpful because they are part of the challenge, seek therapists, mentors, books, films, webinars, etc

  • Reach for healing foods that are quick to eat and don't take complexity to prepare: nourish the body

  • Do some kind of gentle movement, to move energy. Something that brings a sense of joy under normal circumstances

  • Find ways to be in the natural flow of the planet: sunrise/sunset gazing, walks outdoors, listening to the birds, taking baths or being near bodies of water or forests, beautiful landscapes, etc...

Do these steps solve your problems or remove your woes? No. But they can give us space to breathe, to feel resourced, to access compassion, to renew the spirit enough to face them.

I can share, that for me- I am inside of a new life circumstance that does not have an answer. It needs constant navigation. I have found enough space by taking these steps to embrace it- the challenge itself as a teacher. And as the student of the issues that arise, I learn. In my learning I expand. And inside of that perspective- I feel some sense of satisfaction. This does not erase the challenge, but it helps me embrace it with a calm wisdom and that feels right, it feels true. And I assert, dear reader- that this can be true and unique for you as well.

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