People are always making random comparisons of things to art: cooking is an art; driving is an art; being a lawyer is an art. While some of these comparisons are a stretch, I do agree with people who say that life is an art.
When people say that something is an art, what they are really saying is that it taps into our deep spiritual nature. In other words, it is not something that you can just make up a list of rules, follow them, and everything will turn out fine. You have to use your intuition, your emotions, your connection to the divine nature within you in order to be successful. That is what art is. And that is what life is.
However, much of our time is spent fighting this. We resist normal life activities and situations because we don’t feel like dealing with them. We complain endlessly about Mondays, traffic, the weather, the people around us, our bodies and, sometimes life itself.
However, none of these things prevent us from living life. These things ARE life, or at least a part of it. As long as we have breath, we will have lists of things that we don’t want to do. And we will have countless things that don’t turn out the way we think they are supposed to. However, the more we focus on what we DON’T want, the more difficult and painful we cause life to be.
Life is about graciously moving through the things we don’t want with class, calmness, and a good attitude. These things develop capacities deep within us that would not be developed otherwise. Being fired frees us up for the things we were truly meant to do. Being around negative people teaches us to BE the Light instead of relying on others to do it. Dreading Mondays tells us that we need to make plans to move out of the situation – while still doing a good job in the meantime.
It’s kind of like labor. Anyone who has ever given birth knows that it is the closest most of us will ever feel to death until the real thing comes. And the same principle applies. The more you fight and resist the horrible pain, the longer it takes. Only when you accept that there is no way out of this except to go through it do you begin to make progress. Yes, meds help. However, I’ve done it once with meds and once without, and, believe me, you don’t know who you are until you’ve given birth without meds.
So, the question remains, how do we learn to embrace what is instead of fighting it? I certainly don’t have all the answers but here’s what I do:
1) Remember that “this too shall pass”. Even when it seems like it will never end, our suffering does, eventually, lessen or end, especially once we learn to accept it with grace.
2) Visualize in great detail life on the other side of the problem. The more you can imagine relief in the future, the more you will be able to accept the current difficulty.
3) Share your burdens with others. Although we often tend to get caught up in self-image and don’t want to admit the things we are struggling with, it is a relief to share things with people and have them encourage us. It can be risky because some people are poor confidantes, but don’t give up. Keep trying until you find someone who will listen without judgment.
4) Take the opportunity to go deeper into your spiritual practice. Add a second meditation to your schedule, dust off your journal and start writing, go on more long walks. This will not only give you peace of mind but also deep insight into what you can learn from these circumstances.
5) Indulge! Take good care of yourself – draw a bubble bath, buy something affordable but totally frivolous, watch a lot of comedies, get a manicure – whatever it takes to make yourself feel cared for.
The most important thing is to be in the process of living a life that you are proud of. Every day we should be moving steadily closer to the life we want – and leaving behind everything that holds us back. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen if we persist. So, let’s do ourselves a favor this week and follow our bliss!
The following are some things I worked on this week. I am taking way too many classes and not sleeping nearly enough, but that’s my style. Taking classes is even more fun when you don’t have an agenda. So I’m having a ball. Once this semester is over, my next goal is to leave the city I’ve grown up in and seek my fortunes elsewhere.
Wish me luck!!