Climbing Through The Peaks And Valleys Of Life
Photo Credit: Alex E. Proimos
It seems as though humanity as a whole is desperately striving to end suffering, depression, anxiety or any other form of discomfort. We do this because we have learned since birth to resist pain in all its forms. Many of us likely spend more time resisting what we don’t care for than enjoying what we do. Our utter resistance to discomfort and pain is so ingrained into our subconscious that we do so automatically. What I have come to find in my own life however is that what you resist truly does persist. We can not have happiness without sadness. We can not have pleasure without pain. Through our resistance we produce more pain. Our thoughts, feelings and state of being rises and falls just like peaks and valleys in a vast mountain range.
There Is No Failure
Acknowledging that pain in its many forms is as inevitable as the tides of the ocean lowers your resistance. Many people, including myself have become at times consumed with trying to carry a certain feeling as long as possible. Perhaps luck seems to favor you this year and things are going really well. You’re feeling great and you know it’s because of your circumstances. However, because you realize your feeling of well being is the creation of external circumstances, you cling to this feeling. You cling and do not want to let go. Anything that even remotely resembles discomfort or bad luck stirs your emotional pot. As you resist this feeling you may notice it becoming more intense until you finally succumb to negativity and lose your focus.
As you lose your focus you may try to get a game plan together about how you will hold onto that feeling of bliss even longer the next time it rolls around. You may feel as though you failed in some way. You may feel that some people are able to be blissful around the clock so why shouldn’t you be able to also?
There is no failure. Your inevitable shift in thoughts and feelings rise and fall whether you approve of it or not. You can strive to be free of discomfort around the clock but you will only create more discomfort in doing so. Your concept of failure only exists as long as you continue to judge your experiences as necessary and unnecessary. If you view the world through this lens you will be blinded to lessons of immeasurable value that occur in every moment of discomfort. Discomfort brings us messages that we have yet to hear. As we refuse to listen and resist the message, the discomfort becomes louder and more intense like the police ready to knock down your door. If you had simply opened the door to begin with you would have found that the police only wanted to rescue you from a fire in your attic you were not yet aware of.
What Is The Message?
There are many questions as we delve into the realm of discomfort. I would like to be able to tell you that there is a universal answer to all your questions but alas, there is not. Each of us is unique in our own way. However, there are a number of similarities that most of us tend to share.
How do I tune into the message I need to hear? This is perhaps the simplest and most important question to anyone experiencing exaggerated amounts of discomfort in their life. The answer lies squarely on acceptance and clarity. What I mean by this is that by accepting your discomfort, your depression, your anxiety, your panic as equally beneficial as moments of intense joy you open yourself to experience the message. What formerly appeared as nothing more than a horrific mental, physical and spiritual experience now takes on another dimension. A proverbial door appears in a room you were previously trapped in. Allow yourself to be still, to sit with your pain. Don’t criticize your mind when it won’t calm down. If it’s already calm, that’s great. If it’s not, that’s also great. Trust that the message will be revealed when it is necessary for you to act on it.
At this point you have invited the messenger into your home. Your home of wisdom and understanding. As you remain still and welcoming of both your discomfort and the message to unbind you from your discomfort you will begin to notice that you gain immense clarity. Clarity that exists beyond your thoughts. Clarity that shows you the way even when your mind won’t stop chattering. Clarity that brings answers in a way that intellectual thinking can not. As you continue to practice being still, accepting and open to clarity, the process will become increasingly more simple to you. Meditation is great for this but like other tools available only at certain times or self-help material that holds your hand instead of giving you the tools you need, you will need to find ways to incorporate these practices into your daily life.
You incorporate this by being aware of your resistance. Your subtle beliefs that perhaps to be spiritually evolved or happy one must eliminate suffering like a disease from their life. To eliminate suffering is to eliminate joy. Do you desire to be numb to the world? To feel nothing at all is infinitely more hellish than to feel suffering on any level. It is not necessary or practical to strive for complete elimination of discomfort. What we do strive for is reduction of both intensity and duration of suffering and discomfort. Tuning into the message you need to hear accomplishes both of these tasks. When we do so, suffering is no longer suffering but more of a bend in the river of life. A disturbance but also necessary if you wish to continue flowing down the river.
Return To The Flow Of Life
Life never stagnates. It never ceases, stops or waits for anything. Because you’re alive, you follow these same rules. This lesson has been close to my heart throughout most of my life in both my low and high points. When I found myself in the valley, feeling down and out I reminded myself that it was only temporary. Although for most of my life I resisted pain, I knew the pain would change at some point. There is no greater solace than to know no matter how bad, how painful your situation is at the current moment that it will change. You will reach that peak. And just as you reach the peak you need to remember that you must climb back down at some point. When you remember this, you remember that there is no need to rush to the top of the mountain. As you rush you miss out on the pleasure of the journey in a delusion that life would be so much better if only you reached some imaginary destination in your mind.
New Perspective On Goals
As you experience discomfort in a new way that promotes greater understanding and less resistance you begin to see that you are free to create meaningful goals. You may have noticed that you previously spent immense amounts of time and effort trying to subdue discomfort. Perhaps you even created goals to banish it. Although there is no need to rush, there is a need to discover what we truly want. A goal that encompasses all that you wish to be during your lifetime. A driving force if you will. This driving force doesn’t require you to plan things out months at a time but it does require you to keep it in mind each day with your thoughts and actions. Looking too far into the future is not beneficial. Being present, and mindful of what actions unfold into other actions is.
Maybe you have been moving like a locomotive at full speed towards something you want. However, just as you gain full speed, you become derailed. You become lethargic, depressed or angry that you aren’t seeing the results you desired. At this point you are then presented with two choices. You can view these feelings as hindrances to achieving your desires or you can view them as a message that you took a wrong turn along the way. Maybe you have been beating your head against the wall with a tactic that simply wasn’t working in relation to your goal. You need to back up and go in another direction. Without discomfort there to tell you this, you would simply keep going in the wrong direction indefinitely. Make today the day you trust each and every feeling no matter how pleasurable or intolerable as beneficial. Open yourself to healing that requires only acceptance of what is.