Recently I've witnessed as several friends and a few clients had their lives crash down around them.
Breakups, lost jobs, bad decisions, and bad luck all showed up on their doorsteps at once.
As impervious as we like to believe we are from the valleys of life, the fact is that we all have them.
And actually, I've discovered that what I believe is the control I have over my life is in fact an illusion.
Even though you may not want to admit it, it’s probably the same for you as well.
So, what to do when you get bashed by life?
Regardless of the cause, the first step is acceptance, otherwise known as surrender. Unfortunately in our culture surrender is often associated with weakness; however it is the best place to start when nothing else works. I learned this the hard way myself when I was trying everything to make a new life for myself here in Sao Paulo (which I posted about). Often we only surrender when we’re thoroughly defeated, but you can bypass a lot of suffering by doing it up front.
First, realize that what has already happened CAN’T BE ARGUED WITH. It just IS. Waste no time with “It shouldn’t have happened” or “It’s not fair.” As Eckhart Tolle writes, when we are stuck in the mud and want to get out, it does us no good to rant and complain and resist being stuck in the mud. What works is to relax and admit the obvious – “Okay, I am really stuck in the mud right now.” And BREATHE. Let go of resistance. Your true intelligence, aided by the intelligence of the universe can only be accessed through a state of relaxed awareness.
Caveat: Now of course if you are feeling grief, you may need to allow yourself some amount of time to process your feelings and allow them to pass before being able to reach this stage. That’s why acceptance is the last stage of the 5 Stages of Grief.
Next: Look for the Lesson
In your new state of relaxed awareness, you can proceed to the next step, to look for the lesson you are supposed to learn.
Ask yourself, “What is the universe trying to tell me?”
“Does this feel familiar in any way?”
As humans, we tend to need to learn the same lessons repeatedly in life, often called a “pattern.” When we dig deeper and can unearth our patterns, we can then leave them behind. So from a non-judgmental awareness, ask yourself these questions and listen deeply for the answers.
When was the Last Time You Rested?
In our society work is most valued and rewarded, and we fit rest in when there’s nothing else to do. I believe rest is highly under-rated, and have discovered that it’s a powerful path out of the valleys of life. Call it a sabbatical, a retreat, or just plain rest, but often times rest is exactly what we need. When there’s no space in our life, what’s next for us cannot come.
It may be very tempting to make plans for what’s next, but don’t. In yoga, we practice Shavasana at the end of practice and it’s the most important part of practice because it integrates everything that we’ve done. We basically just lie there in stillness and breathe. So take a Shavasana in your life.
I promise you, when you truly rest the desire to play will return, as will your clarity. It’s worth the wait.
What’s the Point?
The valleys of life are meant for you to re-connect to your true nature, your truth. They are life’s way of guiding you back to your path. The more you resist this purpose, the more suffering you will create for yourself, and therefore others.
When nothing works, it's because it's not supposed to. Allowing yourself to stop resisting this, looking for the lesson, and deeply resting will reveal soon enough your path out of the valley to the next mountain.