The essence of this is basic and simple, as so much here. And as so much here, it’s something I rediscover regularly, and I keep finding slightly new and different wrinkles to it.
When I fight my experience, it metaphorically fights back.
What specifically do I fight?
When I say “fight my experience” it usually means fighting sensations in my body and thoughts associated with it. These sensation-thoughts may be triggered by a situation, but what I react to is these sensations and the thoughts my mind associate them with.
How do I try to fight it?
I can use a range of different strategies to fight it, including wanting to push the sensation away, distract myself from it, go into compulsions (the fighting itself is a compulsion), deny it’s here, try to intellectualize it away, try to transcend it, try to fix it through healing, and so on.
What happens when I try to fight my experience?
I act on and reinforce the idea that the story behind the sensation is true. By fighting it, I tell myself the scary story behind it is true and needs to be taken seriously and fought.
I reinforce the belief in me that it is scary. I reinforce the belief that I cannot co-exist with it, and that it’s dangerous to get to know it, allow it to be here, and befriend it. I reinforce the view in me that it is “other” and I keep it other.
And it doesn’t go away. It’s still here no matter how much I try to distract myself from it or change it or transcend it.
In what way does it fight back?
It fights back by remaining here. When I fight something that doesn’t go away, it easily appears to me that it fights back.
More importantly, when I struggle with it – and tell myself it’s strong and important and true and real and worth struggling with – it’s reinforced. and by being reinforced through my own struggle with it. The scary stories behind it and about it are reinforced.
What’s the alternative?
The alternative is to befriend my experience, whatever it is – even the impulse to fight it.
How can I learn to do this? It can help to use pointers and a more structured approach to get into it, at least until it becomes more familiar and second nature. And even when it is more familiar, a more structureed approach is sometimes helpful, especially when we get caught up in something strong.
Basic meditation is a way to get familiar with noticing and allowing what’s here, whatever it is. Doing this in the “labarotory” of meditation sessions makes it a little easier to do the same – notice and allow – when uncomfortable things come up in us in daily life situations.
Natural Rest is a variation of this basic meditation, and it has some pointers that helps bring it into daily life situations.
We can also dialog with whatever comes up, listen to what it has to tell us, get to know it, and find some empathy with it. This helps befriending it and shifting out of the struggle.
Heart-centered approaches like tonglen and ho’oponopono helps us reoritent towards our experiences in general, and we can also use them specifically with our own discomfort and ourselves in that situation.
We can identify and examine the stressful and scary thoughts behind the uncomfortable sensations, the situation triggering it, and about it all. (The Work of Byron Katie.)
It’s especially helpful to look at the fear of befriending our experience as it is. What do I fear would happen? What’s the worst that can happen?
We can examine how our mind creates its experience of the disocmfort, of it as scary and something we need to struggle with, the struggle itself, and any fears, compulsions, and identities connected with it. (Living Inquiries.)
We can find what we are – that which this and any experience happens within and as – which, in turn, helps notice and allow it all. (Headless experiments, Big Mind process.)
For me, it also really helps to have “wastness buddies” as a friend of mine calls it. Someone we can call when something strong comes up in us, and who can help us shift out of the struggle and into br
What’s the benefit of befriending our experience?
When we fight our experience, it ties up a lot of energy and attention, and it also tends to lead us to make life decisions out of reacivity rather than a more open receptivity. It’s uncomfortable and tiring to chronically struggle.
When we shift out of the struggle, we shift out of the battle and can find a different peace. A peace that allows what’s here, in my experience, to be here. It’s a sense of coming home. It opens for love for what’s here, as it is. It opens for a whole new way – one that’s fuller, rof being in the world.
What’s this not about?
It’s not about not fighting in life. Sometimes, it’s appropriate to fight – or fight for – things in life. It’s appropriate to fight for what’s kind and benefits life. (As we see it, from our limited perspective.)
Why do I write about this now?
The virus behind the chronic fatigue seems to get activated through physical exertion and/or stress, and that happened a few days ago. When it happens, it creates a toxic and very uncomfortable feeling through my whole system, and it also impacts my emotions. And I sometimes struggle with it and try to fight it. When I notice what’s happening, an I have struggled enough, there is a shift into allowing what’s here. And that changes everything. It’s like returning to my home and lover after an absence.
Universal themes: finding a better way, and learning to love
As I wrote this article, there were a couple of minor song-synchronicites. When I wrote about the alternative, the song said “You can learn to love me, given time”. (Sting, A Practical Arrangement.) And when I wrote about the benefits of befriending our experience, “While fighting was useful…. there has to be a better way than this.” (Sting, The Pugalist.)
I don’t really take these as a synchronicities, more a reminder that this – the dynamic of learning to love and finding a better way than fighting – are universal themes.
And, of course, that I gravitate to musicians and song writers who have a general similar orientation to life as me.