The Power of Living Lightly in Hard Times
It must be something in the air right now, but I seem to have more than just a few friends going through incredibly challenging times at the moment…
…And it breaks my heart to see people struggling with life in some way, so I find myself having many long conversations and writing just as many long emails — all with the hope that I can help in some way.
Today was one of those days and my dear friend kindly suggested I post the email I had written as she felt it could help others going through troubled times, just like it helped her.
So here is some of what I wrote…
When we feel pushed to the edge, maybe it’s just time to fly?
When there is a LOT of big stuff going on in our lives, it can be extremely challenging to stay centered and not get lost in the stories and fears of what all that might mean for the future.
There are days where we feel like we’re sitting in a tiny row-boat tossed about in raging seas, with waves towering above our heads, threatening to bear down on us at any minute, and we just can’t seem to row fast enough to get away from any of it.
For me, I’ve found these times to be a gift (although it certainly doesn’t feel like it at the time!) — to be forced to see that there are only ever 2 options:
- Become absolutely “friendly with the now” (as Eckhart Tolle says) and see that, outside our attachments, our projected identity and story, there really is no problem in this present moment (thus avoiding the suffering we undoubtedly cause ourselves by fearing the future, regretting the past and trying to squeeze the infinite present into some mind-structure we have identified with)
… OR …
- Losing our presence, pointlessly trying to push back the waves, and creating suffering by resisting what is and fearing an unknowable future.
Remember: nothing that’s really true ever diminishes.
One thing I know about all of us is that we ALL have the seed of a champion within — the spark, the potential for greatness, the possibility that “all is well”. And when we find a balance between head and heart then, no matter what happens, we’ll make it through — we’ll be okay, and the only things that will truly fall away are the things that have been holding us back from experiencing the fullness of Self.
The souls we call our family — our sisters, our mothers, our partners and even our unborn children — these souls never dissipate, never end, never diminish in perfection or closeness. Even though it seems the worst may occur in the bodies, careers, relationships and other life circumstances of the ones we love (or ourselves), there is nothing that can truly harm you or them ultimately.
Underneath all that outer turmoil is the same ever-present peace — the knowing that this beautiful illusion we experience is only a momentary exploration into the realms of possibility … and that pain can actually be the greatest portal into presence and awareness of our infinite Self.
A truly enlightened man I met once (a long time ago when I was still struggling with manic depression) had a book called “What’s wrong with right now … unless you think about it?” … It was very impactful, but funny because I’ve never actually read the book — the title was all I needed.
Life really is on our side.
Even if we can’t see the “how” right now, I know that all is well and everything works in our favour ultimately.
But sometimes we feel extremely frustrated with a perceived lack of progress in some facet of our life… We may think that “I should be able to do this” or “I should be earning more” or “this should have taken off by now” — and these type of thoughts will definitely cause unnecessary suffering and distraction. I think that by letting go of any “shoulds”, you’ll stop fighting with the present and be able to get back to that open, confident headspace that will see you though this.
We all have an incredible capacity if we are able to connect with it, but sometimes we get lost and need someone to lead us back to the path — to “see” us as the divine spark, as the seed of greatness as (ultimately) perfect and whole. If we doubt ourselves, then we’ll struggle even more in challenging areas of life, but if we believe in ourselves (because we see our best self through other people’s active projection, or our own projection, if no-one is doing that for us) then we function at a much higher level — our resilience is higher and our ability to problem-solve improves too.
4 questions to bring our sinking ship back to the surface…
One of the techniques that I find unbelievably helpful is Byron Katie’s “The Work”. She has 4 questions that help diffuse any fear or concept that we get stuck on somehow.
Question 1: Is it true?
Question 2: Can you absolutely know it’s true?
Question 3: How do you react—what happens—when you believe that thought?
Question 4: Who would you be without the thought?
I’m not sure if this has all the details, but here’s a link to her worksheet to guide you through the basics.
For example, you might have a thought like “we’ll be screwed financially if…” or “I won’t be truly happy until…” or “I’ll be devastated if…” or “this …. shouldn’t be happening” or any number of things that your current life circumstances would naturally throw at you mentally and get you looping on internally … So you take each of those and collapse it with The Work.
More often than not, I’ve collapse a fear by the second question. However, sometimes it requires me to complete the whole process and sit a while with my response for the fourth question to really resolve it internally.
It’s incredibly simple and surprisingly fast and effective.
My sister-in-law recently said that Byron Katie’s work is the “how” to Eckhart Tolle’s “what” — and I think that’s so true. Anyway, I hoped these thoughts help you live a little more lightly and enjoy a little more ease and bliss!
P.S. Book recommendations! → “Stillness Speaks” (Eckhart Tolle) and basically anything by Byron Katie (although my favourite is “A Mind at Home With Itself”). If you’re like me and prefer audiobooks, you can find both of these amazing books on Scribd — they have a great plan where you just pay a small monthly subscription and get UNLIMITED audiobooks! Oh, and THIS LINK will get you 2 months free 🙂 #awesome!