Ekhart Tolle says, Cooperate with the present moment as if you asked for it.
That Ekhart. He’s so cray.
I imagine tickling him over and over, my face pressed very close to his, saying, Did you ask for this, Ekhart? Did you? Did you? Hmm?
Maybe I’m just a little hostile.
I mean, he’s right, of course. He’s very wise, that Ekhart.
Martha Beck said a similar thing in our coach training: be in perpetual creative response to whatever is happening. That doesn’t mean doing it perfectly. If we overreact or panic and slip into any one of the drama streams in our minds, that’s okay because the moment we notice it, we can shift out of reactive mode and in to RESPONSIVE mode.
Responsive mode is inherently creative.
Now, I don’t think Ekhart means, Asked for it, as in, Please pass the cancer, the betrayal, the house fire… I think he means, open to the fact that it’s there, whatever ‘it’ is, without giving in to the drama in our head that tells us, in one form or another, It Shouldn’t Be There.
It is, right?
Until it’s not.
I’m not going to say it’s GOOD, or that it was meant to be or ‘happening for a reason.’ I’m just saying, it is happening, so now what?
How do we stay present so we can access our most resilient, flexible, creative mind?
How can we, in fact, expand our lives and our minds so that we are vibrating at a higher frequency?
In certain situations, we’re okay with the hard or messy thing because we expect it, or even choose it.
When I changed diapers, I didn’t freak out every time I opened a diaper–WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?
When I dig in the yard, I don’t look at my hands or pants and exclaim, WHY AM I DIRTY?
When I lift weights, I don’t scream, WAIT—WTF ARE THESE ARE HEAVY!??
But when the hard unexpected (or unrequested) thing comes, some voice says, This is a MISTAKE.
My son shouldn’t stay up so late.
My husband shouldn’t be so worried about money.
I should not be still figuring out my ‘career.’
(All things I have thought as recently as, oh, this morning!)
But, what if our job is not to resist what we don’t like but simply notice it, even welcome it (okay, that’s black-belt level) and then cooperate with it, not to KEEP it or slap a smiley face om it, but simply to allow it to move rather than get stuck in us.
There are actually stages for this sort of process, according to Kristin Neff and her research on Self-Compassion:
1st stage = We RESIST the uncomfortable feelings. ACH! Not this! DANGER!
2nd stage = We are WILLING to be with the uncomfortable feelings. Okay, I may try to make space for this, like, next time it happens.
3rd stage = We TOLERATE the uncomfortable feelings. I don’t love the way this feels but I get that this (heaviness in my belly, shakiness in my legs, pounding in my chest) is there.
4th stage = We ALLOW the uncomfortable feelings without going into our STORY about what it means, about us, about them, about our past or our future. Huh, this is weird, but actually kind of interesting.
5th stage = We EMBRACE the uncomfortable feelings, actually make friends with them, knowing they are transitory and that (this is KEY) they are not US. I’m going to track this, observe this, name this because doing this keeps me grounded in this moment, in the present rather than racing around in my mind to the past and the future in some mean or scary scenario.
When things go haywire, as they inevitably do, we can either be with the sensations in our body or with the abuse in our head. That’s about it. I notice when I focus on the the sensations, they change; when I focus on the abuse? It goes round and round and round.
Life keeps coming at us with these moments of discomfort, and I just don’t see it stopping until the day it entirely stops which is hopefully a LONG WAY OFF. So why not give this a try?
Next time you catch yourself tensing to the moment, try tuning in to the physical sensations in your body (not the story in your mind) and ask yourself, what if I cooperated with this? I mean, what if? What if I stepped out of what my mind is SO SURE IS TRUE OR BAD OR DANGEROUS and stepped into my sensations, got curious?
What might happen?