I’ve been promising a blog post to several of my patients on the topic of struggle. But while I was gearing up to write it I got tremendously sick. Interesting how simply having a topic in my head invites the universe to create the environment for me to be fully inspired. Well, the universe inspired me!
The reason I wanted to write this post in the first place is because the idea of struggle is becoming more and more apparent in my life. When I use the word struggle I mean an intellectual, physical and emotional fight against the universe when the self is presented with a challenge. A midwife explained it very well to me at one point and I loved her definition. She said that in all birth there is, of course, negative sensation and moments of pain, but in her practice she is always on the watch for a laboring mother struggling with the pain rather than utilizing the contractions and downward movement. This definition interests me.
Challenges and hardships occur in life. But within each moment there is the opportunity to surrender to circumstance or to rail against fate itself. This struggle is really a stepping outside of the present moment, pushing a pause button on life and existing in a separate universe. Struggle prevents the passage of time.
In early April I was very sick with the stomach flu and then my husband got very sick with a head cold. For three weeks we struggled alone in self-pity, misery and grumpiness. We couldn’t stand each other, we couldn’t stand up long enough to cook or clean and we didn’t know how to get help. Really what we did for three weeks was put our head in the sand and pout. The pouting kept us sick physically and made us miserable emotionally. The exact second we started asking for help the symptoms faded away and we felt inspired and light again.
I was very good at struggle. I perfected it at a young age. But lately, like trying to improve my posture, I’ve been correcting myself when I start to experience struggle. For the first week of being sick I watched movies and rested and thought about how lucky I was to have the freedom to take time off and let my body recover. I was the picture of struggle-less sickness. But then I had missed a certain amount of classes, canceled a certain number of appointments and disappointed a certain number of people and I started to feel trapped. My body wanted more time off to rest my voice, build the qi and prevent getting sick again. My mind told me I should go back to work because I was a professional and people would start to lose respect for me if I watched another week of Netflix movies. The second week I struggled and got worse not better.
One of the biggest lessons I’m learning right now is that there is always the possibility of choice. We are not prisoners in our life. We have an amazing amount of independence and power over our actions. I don’t need to go back to work because I’ve missed two days of appointments. I am deciding to go back to work because I feel guilty. Simply saying that we “must” and “should” do anything is a dagger into the heart of self-worth. Every action taken because of guilt and lack of self-determination strengthens the struggle and weakens the soul.
The next time you feel powerless and trapped, take a moment and remember that there is no one with a gun to your head. You don’t have to do anything. Get creative about the options. Life really isn’t that serious.
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