The problem with the problem
When faced with situations that our mind labels as a problem, often our immediate instinct is to fix it. What can I do to fix this, to alleviate it, to make it go away? To this day, I get caught in this familiar spiraling. Sure in certain circumstances, this is the most effective mode of operation. If my car is not working, no amount of time sitting and being with the state of my car will make it magically work again. It requires action. However, if I am feeling an emotion or a physical sensation that is difficult, learning to abide right there with what feels difficult is of great value.
If I rush to alleviate these kind of difficulties too quickly, I might miss the unfolding of something deeper that might be making its way to the surface. I may feel relief with the difficulty out of the way, only to find that I am repeatedly confronted by it in varied forms. Over and over again, I have learned to simply stay, feel and listen. Yes, it requires a lot of patience, courage and faith. Staying does not always mean things will begin to feel better. They might even become more difficult before softening. Life, thankfully, has a natural ebb and flow, and difficulty is not immune to it. It, too, will come and go.
Learning how to meet life’s challenges is where so much of the learning and growth happens. Learning to meet ourselves in the midst of challenge is a gift. Instead of running, hiding, fixing, alleviating, there is a freedom in meeting things as they are. There is the possibility of perspective shifting, widening, space opening. The most, seemingly contracted places still have space within, very much like the nucleus of an atom. Perhaps this spaciousness is our truest, deepest essence.
One of the most significant impacts of my meditation practice is being willing to SLOW down. The simple act of choosing to sit every morning when I’d almost prefer to get on with my day is an active intention that carries forward. So when I meet myself in a moment of frustration, when I meet my daughter in moments of sadness, I am more willing to sit with it instead of pushing through or problem solving my way out.
What if the real problem is my need to get rid of the so-called problem? What if, instead, I choose to stay, feel and listen? It can be scary, but also the most liberating choice we can make at times.