Resistance is Futile

Flame Tree
Flame Tree in Snow

Change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same for very long.

I take the same trail beside the St. Vrain river almost every day, and yet it is never quite the same path two days in a row. One morning last week on the trail, I was surrounded by tree branches filled with fiery autumn leaves. A few mornings later, snow completely blanketed the flaming trees and the sights and sounds of winter engulfed me.

Life is filled with cycles and shifts. From the passing of seasons to the aging of my body, change surrounds and engulfs me. And life continues to shift and change every day, every month, every year. Grasping at the old form, resisting change, makes today hurtful rather than joyful. I learned this lesson the hard way;  years ago I owned a property south of Kansas City that I loved.  I adored every inch of those 3 acres – every tree, every bush, every blade of grass was special to me.  The property was so significant and special that I wrote an entire book about the place (my first book, A Still Place).

And there was nothing bad or wrong about my love of that little parcel of land. The only problem was I clung to it and vowed to live in that spot until I died.  Silly, silly woman!  Well, life happened; I got divorced from one man and married another. I had a second baby and still I held onto that property. I refused to even think about moving. Then my husband’s job dried up and we faced a move cross-country to Chicago. And I had trouble letting go; I resisted leaving my lovely little property. But we needed to move!  The only thing my resistance caused was a slow, slow house sale and a ton of pain and angst.

We eventually sold the property and moved to Chicago. I was so sad, missing my little plot of land, wishing things were different, wanting to roll back the clock and undo the move.  But gradually, I let go. And when I finally stopped holding onto my past, I “woke up” and discovered that I was living in an amazing spot.  I found myself LOVING this new place and my new life.  All it took was letting go of the old life.

That experience left me knowing that my life is WAY less painful when I allow things to change and shift without resisting or pushing against the change. Resistance is futile! Resisting change only leads to pain and misery. 

I seem to periodically have to revisit this lesson in letting go and allowing life to unfold organically.  I can still make myself miserable trying to force today to look like some “perfect” day long past – or some fantasy day that I’ve never even experienced.  I can be so stubborn!  But when I remember that little piece of land that I adored so many years ago, I remember the value of letting go.

It’s odd; I have so many fond memories of that land south of Kansas City. 🙂 But now, I also remember all the amazing and wonderful stuff that happened to me when I let it go and moved on with my life.  And you know what? Today, I live in a space that is even more amazing!  And I would have never ended up here, if I hadn’t let go of that old place.

Life is a river; it keeps flowing and changing and moving. And in every moment I have a choice;  I can cling to the riverbank and wear myself out trying to stay right here in this spot. I can fight and resist moving downstream. Or I can let go and allow the flow of life to take me. I can let go and trust that  life can be even better around the next bend.

☾☽

Can I stop resisting and be grateful for change?

Can I let go of my urge to control and push and grasp?

Can I allow life to unfold and shift organically?

Can I just breathe and allow today to be?

Advice to Myself – Keep on Flowing

 How do I stay true to myself as I flow though this world?  

“Do I change like a river, widening and deepening, eddying back on myself sometimes, bursting my banks sometimes when there’s too much water, too much life in me, and sometimes dried up from lack of rain?

Will the I that is me grow and widen and deepen?

Or will I stagnate and become an arid riverbed? Will I allow people to dam me up and confine me to wall so that I flow only where they want?

Will I allow them to turn me into a canal to use for they own purposes? Or will I make sure I flow freely, coursing my way through the land and ploughing a valley of my own?”

–Aidan Chambers, This is All

Can I keep flowing and resonating with my joy, my truth, even when surrounded by others who are awash in sorrow or fear or rage?  How do I hold my ground and allow the world to be however it is today?  I will not do any good to anyone if I drop my light, my joy and resonate with the pain of those around me.

Maybe it isn’t cruel or crass to stay joyful while others in the world suffer.  What if our joy is the most potent medicine there is for the wounds of the world?

I want to acknowledge joy as the amazing gift it is. And to keep opening to joy, even in the face of the darkness and pain in the world around me.  May I hold my joy sacred and allow it to flow far and wide.

☾☽

“But just as the river is always at the door, so is the world always outside.
And it is in the world that we have to live.”
-Lian Hearn

What is Awareness?

 

“Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment.
 This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, 
every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), 
every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, 
every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath. 

Every moment is the guru.

–Charlotte Joko Beck

My experience of awareness;   I take Dog Goddess Brigit on a walk by the river. We walk the same path almost every morning.  On many occasions, I have returned from our walk and realized that I didn’t really notice my surroundings at all that day. I have been completely lost in my thoughts, unaware of what was right in front of me. I have been wrapped up in planning my future or ruminating on my past and the river slipped by unnoticed by me.

But some days are different; some days I actually focus on the path and my steps and the sounds on the wind. I notice the feel of the leash in my hand, the smell of some bush or tree nearby.  And those moments when I am actually present and aware are so potent!  On my aware days, I notice many new things that I never noticed before – even though it is the exact same path Brigit and I walked yesterday.  An aware walk is magical.

It is as though I am more alive in aware moments. Awareness amps up my sensations and makes everything richer and fuller.  For me, even awareness about something heavy and hard like sorrow or pain beats feeling half alive.  I’ve learned that numbing out and avoiding yucky emotions and sensations comes at a price – if I numb out,  I will also lose the yummy sensations and emotions that make my life sing.

Meditation teacher, Jon Kabat-Zinn describes awareness as being mindful, being present with whatever is in this moment. He calls it the art of “falling awake”.  Ram Das tells us to Be Here Now.  Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of dwelling in the present moment.  Not just living… dwelling in the moment.  Seems like a very simple idea. And I find it very difficult to pull off most days!

Modern life seems to be about distraction rather than awareness; we distract ourselves by turning on TV shows we only half watch. We woof down food we don’t really even taste.  We walk around dreaming of tomorrow or lamenting yesterday. We surf on the internet, popping from screen to screen without really taking any of it in. We pride ourselves on being able to do 3 things at once, even when we can’t actually remember much about doing any of them!  Is that living?

I suspect that Dog Goddess Brigit is at least 100 times more aware than I am on any given day. My big, “superior” human brain gives me the ability to analyze and plan far beyond anything a dog can plan. And those same human abilities complicate the simple act of staying present and aware in this moment. My strength is also my weakness. Can I stop planning and analyzing long enough to notice what is here, right in front of me?  Analysis is as useless as a dog chasing her own tail when it comes to being aware.

I wonder how much I miss when I am walking through my day half aware of what’s around me here and now?  What would it take for me to double or triple how many moments of the day that I am actually present?   What if I stop analyzing EVERYTHING and put my big, silly human brain to work sensing and perceiving what is here in front of me? What is the value of analyzing what happened yesterday if I miss today?  How much richer can my day to day reality become if I make awareness my priority?

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Awareness n. 

Synonyms: aware, cognizant, conscious, sensible, awake, alert, watchful, vigilant
These adjectives mean mindful or heedful: Aware implies knowledge gained through one’s own perceptions or by means of information: Are you aware of your opponent’s hostility? I am aware that the legislation passed.
Cognizant is a formal equivalent of aware: “Our research indicates that the nation’s youth are cognizant of the law” (Jerry D. Jennings).
Conscious emphasizes the recognition of something sensed or felt“an importance . . . of which even Americans are barely conscious” (William Stanley Jevons).
Sensible implies knowledge gained through intuition or intellectual perception“I am sensible that the mention of such a circumstance may appear trifling” (Henry Hallam).
To be awake is to have full consciousness of something“as much awake to the novelty of attention in that quarter as Elizabeth herself” (Jane Austen).
Alert stresses quickness to recognize and respond: I remained alert to career opportunities.
Watchful and vigilant imply looking out for what is dangerous or potentially so: The watchful parents protected their toddler. The ranger kept a vigilant eye out for forest fires.
(from free dictionary.com)

 

Being the Joy of You

Joyful Baby Me

Joy spontaneously flows in us, as us, from us
When we remember how AMAZING we truly are. 

Can we allow ourselves to BE that space of flowing joy? 

What will it take for each of us to relax into Being Joy? 

What will it take for us to live from that place of flowing joy? 

How much joy can we embody and share with the world? 

These are the questions I wonder about, that matter to me.
Am I willing to open to the possibility of more Joy every day?? 
How about you?   Would you like to live in joy every single day? 

If your answer is YES, please join me by phone from wherever you find yourself on September 13 and / or September 20th.

Let’s explore remembering who we truly are!  Let’s explore being pure joy!

What: Being the Joy of You Tele Call Series
When: Thursday September 13th and September 20th, 2012.  Attend one or both calls – your choice.
Where: Phone in from Any Town, Anywhere
Cost: $19, includes both Tele Calls on Sept. 13 and Sept. 20

Contact me if you want to be part of this Joy thing:  nancy@nancylankston.com

Space

Central Wyoming

I am here in this space.

The sun is warm, the wind soft.

I open in this space.

Everything is here now.

I am this space.

Flow Like a River

St Vrain

“May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing 
and no holding back, the way it is with children.” 

~Rainier Maria Rilke

When I get impatient with myself or the world, I try to pause long enough to remember the river, the flow of the river that I love so much.  When life does not instantly present me with the exact and perfect outcome – the perfect and glorious outcome I had all planned out in my head in excruciating detail – at those times, I try to remember to just breathe and flow with how things ARE, rather than how I wish they would be.

Resistance is futile; life is NEVER perfect. And life unfolds in its own wild and wonderful way, no matter how hard I kick and scream and struggle and fight against what IS, trying desperately to get the exact future I had imagined and dreamed of.

Sit and breathe. And breathe some more.

Until I can stop whining and fighting against what is unfolding right here and now in front of me.

How horrible to miss out on today because it doesn’t look exactly like my dream of it yesterday!

Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is.
The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”

~Virginia Satir