Do you struggle against life or do you accept it as it is? I know, that’s a big question. You can’t really answer it with a simple yes or no.
But it’s an important question to be clear about when you meditate. And when it comes to your own sense of fulfillment in life, it’s essential.
I struggle with it a lot. And to be honest, I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone. And meditation is the primary way that I engage with this question.
The Way of Struggle
For me, meditation is like the leathery old Master and I am the perennial novice. Whenever I engage with the Master, he has an effortless way of exposing my struggle in the light of his zen.
But what does it really mean to accept or struggle against life? And what does it have to do with meditation?
Well, let’s start this way.
I love meditation. It’s never the same. It’s always fresh and, to the degree that I make sincere effort, it’s always rewarding. And, after nearly 20 years of practice, I have noticed that there are real consequences when I don’t meditate regularly.
What are those consequences?
One of the biggest consequences is this. I have a much harder time accepting life as it comes. I struggle against events, time, and circumstances that are mostly out of my control. When I’m with friends, on the street, commuting, at work, with my partner, things get under my skin more easily. I quickly combust or start running.
Can you relate?
And I have noticed that over time, the events and circumstances of my life are like a tide that slowly but surely pulls me away from myself. The circumstances of life just pile up and start to weigh heavy on my mind and soul.
One simple way to summarize that experience is that my life becomes more about struggle than acceptance. That struggle is like a default position.
The Way of Acceptance
Meditation has the opposite effect. It keeps me buoyant, and I don’t struggle (or more accurately, I struggle a lot less).
Meditation is like taking a metaphysical shower. Because I am letting everything be as it is, the events of the world don’t weigh on me in the same way. Its not that I’m not impacted. Of course I am.
It’s more that I’m rooted somewhere else. Somewhere deeper than circumstances and events. Meditation helps me nourish that root system so it can grow into the deeper ground of my being.
When I don’t meditate regularly, the undertow of life pulls me down and starts to crowd my mind and being. I become divided against myself, the world, and reality.
Now, I think there’s nothing wrong with getting a little lost every once in a while. Because, when you come back, your perspective is stronger and refreshed.
Acceptance versus Struggle
But meditation is interesting. Because real meditation is about letting everything be just as it is. It means not fighting the events in life or your various responses to them. And somehow, through meditation, those events are transformed.
How? Because you sit in a posture of acceptance versus struggle, embrace instead of resistance.
This distinction can get subtle. Because sometimes you really don’t know that you are struggling against life.
But then, all of a sudden, you’ll be meditating and you’ll just fall through the floor boards into a wide open space. And then you realize that you were holding on with white knuckles just moments before. It’s humbling and inspiring at the same time.
It’s amazing to realize just how much you resist life. And conversely, it’s equally empowering to see how much you can accept. When you sit sit perfectly still and just accept it all unconditionally, without judgement, it’s like another part of you is released. Suddenly wisdom and insight emerge spontaneously.
Giving Up The Struggle Never Gets Old
And let’s be clear. You aren’t making effort to get that insight or wisdom. It’s a spontaneous result of letting go and total acceptance. You just see more deeply. Your view was eclipsed before because you were holding on and struggling, and now it’s open wide without any obstructions.
That’s a great feeling and that’s what it means to accept everything as it is. And part of that, is accepting the fact that you will always discover, at deeper and deeper levels, that you are resisting and that you are holding on.
I think that’s why meditation is always so fresh. Your habit of holding on started at birth. So now, as you let go and stop resisting life as it unfolds, it’s exhilarating instead of terrifying. And even more that that, you start to see and know a different reality that’s always present. One which we’re mostly blind to, because we are always struggling.
That struggle is like a shield. It cuts us off from the very essence of life.
You know that nagging feeling you have? The one that whispers to you last at night or in your quiet moments? It says something like this: there must be more to life than this!
Well, there is. I heard that voice as well. I followed it and it led me here. Now it’s waiting for you to discover it too, as soon as you stop struggling.