This sparked one of those laugh out loud moments for me. Every morning and every late afternoon or evening, regardless of weather, temperature, or wind, I am out with to cover the minimum five kilometres with my dog. And often I am wearing this same attitude.
Trouble is, I have studied Yoga, kinesiology and climbing, as well as multiple other recreation pursuits for over three decades. I am a smart enough, studied enough human to also know THIS is NOT helping my stupid physical or mental health.
Oh… the irony…
I often describe Yoga to folks who have not yet tried it as learning how to be comfortable with the discomfort of the postures. It is an examination of and loving, or at the very least, dispassionate acceptance of what we are resisting. This posture is the expression of the opposite. And on those long walks in the blowing nor-easterly winds with dampness and cool temperatures, when I recognize this attitude accompanying me and the dog, I just add the pressure of how I should be above it — since I know better.
The pressure we place on ourselves to muddle through that which we do not enjoy IS the actual seed of this suffering.
Let that sink in.
It is not the walk that causes the suffering, it is the belief that one must walk. The sense of having to do something that creates suffering. Each morning I sit to meditate with the pressure to do it right. In actuality, it is the idea that I have to do it right that wrenches the benefit of meditation from me.
The Serenity prayer has existed since the early 1900’s. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The very nature of this prayer is acceptance. It is a willingness for what will be to be. It is a prayer signalling the person uttering the words of the prayer to remove ones own pressure and accept life as best one can.
The Buddhist teachings since the late 6th century B.C.E. beginning with the four noble truths — firstly, suffering exists, the second truth, so adeptly demonstrated in this image, suffering is caused by craving, or in other words, wanting what we do not have, or not wanting what we have; the third truth that suffering can end and the fourth, there is a path to end suffering.
COVID has shaped all our lives into a new way of being and doing. But it doesn’t need to cause suffering. The suffering can end if we choose to accept what we cannot change, have the courage to do what we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
The problem is simple: we want the result without the effort. We want the benefit without sacrificing the time, the pleasures and the effort. We get stuck here. And when we get stuck we begin to resist, we close ourselves off from receiving anything… even the benefits.
To get the benefits out of anything requires choosing the courage to fully embrace all of life — its misfortunes and fortunes; struggles and ease.