This morning I had a knot in my stomach. I felt uncomfortable, inadequate and tensed. What helped me ‘move beyond’ is 15 minutes meditation. I meditated longer but after 15 minutes I felt the fog clearing up and the tension left my body. I find that fascinating. What I find even more fascinating is that I know this and still have days where I feel shitty but avoid to meditate regardless, only adding guilt about procrastination to the initial unhappiness.
What we resist, persists. It is much wiser to acknowledge that everything is changing constantly. What feels true now doesn’t need to feel true in 15 minutes or ten years from now. Just like the weather our internal landscape is in constant flux. The difference is that the changing weather is always a topic of conversation but we are not so used of expressing our experience. We pretend that our inner weather is always good and constant.
Last week I was having a friend over for lunch. He told me a funny story.
He found himself walking through his neighbourhood, here in Amsterdam. For those of you who are familiar with the city, we are talking about the Haarlemmerstraat. It’s a street that underwent serious upgrading the last two decades. Twenty years ago it was kind of scary and seedy overthere, nowadays it is hip, trendy and not to be called cheap by any means.
It was one of those days where life just sucked. There was a lot of tension at work and he didn’t feel like going back to the head quarters of his company. My friend thought that the best way to efficiently use the time he had was to do some shopping. There was stuff he needed to buy for a while.
The Haarlemmerstraat is a fairly long street, it’s about 1 kilometer. You have got a lot of what we call jewellery stores. These are not regular jewellery stores, it’s a figure of speech for the exclusive and expensive bakery (the bread jewellor), bordering to ridiculous, the dito butcher (the meat jewellor) and so on and so on. You get the idea, you will find a flower jewellor, a chocolate jewellor, a coffee jewellor and an olive oil jewellor there too.
My friend starts his shopping with grim determination. He starts at the beginning and goes into literally every clothing store in the whole street. He finds nothing but crap. In his mind he is complaining about this stupid pretentious shopping street and the whole concept of consumerism, capitalism and fashion. His mood is getting darker and darker. He didn’t manage to find one single item he liked.
When he is at the end of the street he receives a phone call. Someone at his office brings him some very goodnews. While sitting at my kitchen table he proceeds: “I turned around and went back exactly the same route in reverse order. Only now I would find the coolest things. On exactly the same racks in exactly the same shops that I had visited 20 minutes ago I would now find little gems, reasonably priced even. 45 Minutes later I had 5 shopping bags full of awesome stuff and I was the happiest camper in Amsterdam”.
It was a beautiful illustration of how a shift in perspective can change our experience of our reality dramatically and that it can happen within seconds. The moment we get unstuck we realize we were stuck. We get stuck, unstuck and stuck again all the time. Sometimes it happens more subtle, sometimes it happens vividly.
When we realize that all human beings go through these motions all the time it is understandable that we have such a hard time understanding each other. What we see is colored by our own awareness and what the other shows us is not transparant either. In my friends case the universe came to the rescue. But to make our lives easier ourselves we can (and should!) do a couple of things over and over again (and yes, I’m talking to myself too):
1. Take responsibility:
We don’t have to be a victim of our inner ‘bad weather’. Meditation helps. By the way, we don’t have to be a victim of inner ‘good weather’ either. Our mind is not something solid and therefore we should not treat it as solid. Meditation is a great tool to discover and learn to appreciate the aliveness of our mind.
2. Open up:
We cannot expect our fellow human beings to all be psychic. When we don’t share what is going on with us we can’t expect others to understand. By practising our honesty we also learn a great deal about understanding ourselves. Once a feeling is expressed it will often let us go, making space for the next experience. When we honor this dynamic in ourselves and others experiences, emotions and insights can flow freely. This adds tremendous quality and freedom to our lives.
3. Don’t take stuff personal (be disharming instead of offended):
When someone is clearly not seeing what you are seeing it doesn’t mean that the other is wrong. Nobody is trying to misunderstand you on purpose either. Making an effort to see the other person’s perspective and sharing yours will create a connection and will diminish the gap. Being compassionate with the other might create an opportunity to shift into a new perspective. And I’m not talking about just the other persons perspective.
Good luck! Writing this down certainly made me feel better, hope reading this works similarly for you.