It’s funny how life has a way of smacking you upside the head with messages if you’re awake to them. I shared a quote on Google+ that I saw recently, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” ~Thomas Jefferson. But then someone responded to my post with this and I loved it even more, “When you reach the end of your rope, Let Go.” ~Buddhism.
Acceptance can be tricky. Easy to say, often hard to do. The catch-22 is that the one thing that is hardest for us to accept, will set us free when we do. Some people struggle with accepting divorce, others with loss, and others have a hard time accepting that their life just didn’t turn out like they thought it would, and it’s the struggle itself that causes much our suffering. For me, it’s managing a chronic illness.
If you’ve ever dealt with a chronic health condition, be it hypertension, cholesterol, cancer or something else, you know that letting go — particularly of results — is hard. Check-ups can feel like you’re ‘walking the plank’, and at the end there’s either sea of hungry sharks awaiting your fall or you get just a little more plank until next time. I know that I struggle with this every 3 months. I struggle with acceptance, non-attachment, fear, all of it. The results at the end of the visit or ‘plank’ can loom over you making it hard to find growth or meaning in the struggle itself.
Acceptance in a results-driven society
We’re a society of number watchers — literally and proverbially — and we’ve been conditioned to equate numbers and results with good or bad; pain or happiness. Each result a reminder of what we may or may not be attached to.
In business, if you show a financial chart with numbers going up and to the right, everyone’s slapping high fives, and investors rejoice. In college, it’s your GPA dictates your future. And, if you struggle with weight management, watching the numbers on the scale go down equates with happiness. If you have high blood pressure, when the numbers go up, it signals trouble.
Suffering as teacher
So, it’s hard to let go of results and embrace the ride when we’ve been taught that results are what life is about. Most days, I approach my personal struggle with presence and an open mind and some days, I don’t. I’m human. Life is a see-saw, and it’s hard to resist straddling the middle. We try hard to create balance, hoping a pigeon doesn’t land on one end of the see-saw tossing us head forth into uncertainty. But it can be exhausting trying to control that over which you have none. Enter acceptance & surrender. The majority of our suffering is mind-created in that we aren’t willing to accept what is, but this kind suffering can also be a teacher.
Ayya Khema, from Being Nobody, Going Nowhere is quoted as saying, “suffering is our best teacher because it hangs onto us and keeps us in its grip until we have learned that particular lesson. Only then does suffering let go.”
I’ve come to realize that I still have much to learn, and that spiritual growth isn’t a linear process, it’s a Tango on the plank of life.
– Your Charmed Yogi
(Photo: Life is somewhat artistic)
Related posts on acceptance and illness:
- A letter to yogis with chronic illness
- Accepting the unacceptable
- Accept that over which you have no power (which is everything)
- Yoga can’t fix the crazy, but it can help you accept it
- Grace under fire: Living in a stress-driven world
- Snuggle the struggle and be free