Today, something happened that let me see how far I have come. Today, I met rudeness and ugliness in the face and my mind was at peace. Today I ran into an obstacle and I was unshaken, undisturbed. I was driving back home from this encounter and felt the need to thank the Universe for sending me these obstacles so that I may practice over and over again how to harness my mind and find true peace in this lifetime.
I live my daily life under the philosophy of 'allow'. It's not a new philosophy, I did not come up with this stuff myself. 'Allowing' is a seminal part of 'Buddhist' practice', but surely they alone do not hold the keys to all these teachings. The simple and basic philosophy of allow teaches that things will not always turn out the way you want them to, but that in all of us, there's the ability to surpass all obstacles using our minds. Surpassing an obstacle requires that you understand that this one situation here, might not, or will not change and that regardless of that fact you can still find peace. 'Allow' therefore is never about changing the 'other' or the external entity. It's about you and what's going on in your mind, your body, and finding internal solutions to reach peace, within you.
There is a certain discomfort we feel within our bodies when we meet high levels of conflict in our lives. It's a very real, physiological occurrence. Watch your body change when someone makes you mad; your hands sweat, your heart rate goes up, your teeth may clench. I have learned to separate myself from this bodily process and allow this disturbing energy to pass through me instead of acting on it in attempts to make it go away . The more I allow the world to be just who it is, the more I am able to have these feelings of discomfort pass through my body quicker; until the process is so fast, so automatic, that it may even look to an outsider like you never even went through hard times.
Rewind my life 20 years. When conflicts would arise they would eat me up from the inside. In my twenties, rude people were met with an immediate wall of anger. In relationships, I would shift my weight around to get my way. In all interactions I acted as if my very entity and sense of self was under attack and I needed lots of fierce ammunition to defend this fragile me from the world.
In trying to live under the philosophy of 'allow', nothing outside of me has essentially changed. There are still people out there who will not like us, who will be mean to us, who will disrespect us. There are people out there who will never give us a chance. For the rest of our days there will be constant situations that occur that will create conflict and disruption in our lives. But what HAS changed is inside of me. Instead of spending enormous amounts of energy trying to change the world to meet my needs....I now focus on solutions that require me to work with the positive energy that already exists in my life. Focus on the people who are already in your life and offering you so much love, your children, your partner, your friends, your family.
In no other is the INABILITY to use this philosophy more apparent than in very young children. When the external world does not go according to their plans, they throw a tantrum. Children cry and whine until they either get tired or get their way. Unfortunately, that is a battleground my husband and I know all too well. Yet, although they are still very young, I have begun talking to my kids about the fact that life is not supposed to be any one way. Life is unpredictable. In fact, THE only predictable thing about life, is its utter unpredictability. I tell my kids all the time that there is no contractual agreement with the Universe insuring you a smooth ride through life and that often it's the way we deal with the ride that can make all the difference. I always make sure to thank my children when they are being flexible. Flexibility with what life throws our way is a wonderful strength and quality to have and in thanking them I let them know what qualities will help them soar.
Yet, children are not the only ones that throw fits and tantrums when life does not go their way. We, grown men and woman, do it in relationships with our loved ones, our friends, or our colleagues. These grown-up tantrums obviously do not look as outright and bold as when children throw tantrums, but the physiological reactions are the same. Grown men and woman may hold out on attention or love, or give silent treatments, or lash out verbally in times of crisis as tactics to getting their way.
Back to my conflict of today. Today I realized very quickly that a person I needed to work with just did not like me, did not give me any chance and may even hate me. I had never had more than 2 minutes of real conversation with this person so I had to allow her to be. I did give her several chances to engage me in nonthreatening and respectful ways, but got nowhere. Once I noticed there was no progress or initiative on her part to maintain a respectful relationship, I chose to pull back emotionally and let go of whatever expectations I had for our relationship.
There's an expression I very much live by, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." Whereas I think it's important to give people a chance, It's even more important that you cut away all negative energies once you notice things do not work out. This act of 'walking away' may be a real physical distancing from the person, but we might not always be able to walk away from the ugliness. You might need to work with this person, you might be married to them, you might be related to them. Luckily, in our minds, we can always walk away from negativity and ugliness, just shit the mental door...that power we DO have. You can absolutely close your mind's door on all draining energies and people. Instead, refocus on energies in your life that strengthen, pamper and inspire you to be in a good, safe space.
I walked away from this experience knowing that I do not need this person to like me to move forward, I do not need her to agree with me or even care for me for that matter. She might very well even takes steps to create conflict in my life in the future. In my mind I was already there, already explored all those possibilities, right here at home. The worse that could happen has already been explored in my mind and the core of who I am remains in its place; undisturbed, totally at peace. My focus then goes to the positive guiding energies I do have in my life. I have amazing people in my life who fill me with joy, who make me laugh, make me feel alive and THOSE are the people who I'm going to get my strength from. I absolutely feel so immensely blessed to have had all sorts of obstacles in my life and can only wish that I can pass this phenomenal gift of strength and positivity to my own children.
One last thought. I believe all the ugliness in this world is there so that we may more passionately embrace the wonders it has to offer. Imagine of we all were totally happy and healthy and lived a million years that way. We would never know what to be thankful for if it weren't for pain, sickness and misfortunes. All these opposing forces in life are there for a reason. I am sure by now we have all had losses in our lives. It might be person in your life, or maybe a pet. Strangely, only in death do we truly, TRULY know in our hearts and in our minds how much we loved that person. We thought we knew how much we loved while they were alive, but only in death is the full color version of this love revealed. So next time you encounter a conflict, pain, discomfort, shame, anger, know that it has a right to exists and that it's there so that you may have a chance to find its exact opposite in your own life. Only through ugliness is the wonder that is life fully revealed.