It’s commonplace advice in certain circles to “love what is” by being in the present moment and opening your heart to whatever is alive in your reality. Easier said than done, right? It can seem an impossible task if we feel as if we are just suddenly supposed to love what we consider a source of pain and suffering.
One very common choice is to go into resistance. If we have an image of ourselves as self aware, ethical beings (and construct our notion of the Other as the opposite of that), this choice is understood as a moral undertaking rather than a reactive response or defensive mechanism. We feel ourselves to be on the side of what is right and good, maybe even build an identity around that. And yet, why does this conviction not uplift us? Why does it so often lead us to be stressed out, knotted up about “the state of the world,” and pessimistic about our fellow humans?
I’ve been on that train, taken long rides on that train. Righteous anger can fuel a lot of action and move us out of unhealthy situations. There is a time and place for that energy. But if the trade off in well being starts getting too costly—if you are weighed down by depression or defeat, or worked up by worry or anger—maybe it’s time to consider another option.
I’m not gonna tell you to magically “love what is.” Stuff like forgiveness exercises aren’t my thing because I don’t believe in forcing heart openings. What I will advise is to begin to find your center. That roominess I’ve been writing about will widen your field of options. Whatever bind you think you’re in, there really are other ways to think, feel, and act in response to the situation.
A minor but recent example: I was texting with a loved one who tried to make a joke I considered a bit mean-spirited. I tried to ignore it the first time, but this person is very persistent, and made the joke two more times. The third time I took the bait and called it out, as gently as I knew how at the time. You can imagine how that wasn’t well received, and how it only succeeded in tripping a defense mechanism of denial.
As I was reflecting on this conversation, another loved one tried to reassure me that there was nothing wrong with drawing a boundary, that that other person was “wrong” to make fun of other people, so why beat myself up for speaking out against that? Yet for me the issue was not about right/wrong, assigning blame either on the other person for “being mean” or myself for reacting to it. I just earnestly wanted to understand what was running in me that led to this outcome.
As it was happening, I was very conscious of the pressure building within each time that person made the joke, and how that construction finally needed an outlet the third time around. Sometimes that level of somatic awareness isn’t enough. And to be honest, I still don’t have clarity on this interaction. I am not rushing to find the answer, though. I’m just letting it rest in the roominess of my inner being, which doesn’t think in terms of “being wronged” or fear “being wrong.” My inner being, just like your inner being, simply wants to experience and expand. I trust that eventually the higher perspective that is already present somewhere in my Brilliant System will trickle into consciousness. In the meantime, I don’t have to keep replaying the situation.
I am peacefully engaged with it. I am at peace with the fact that this person tends to act that way. I am at peace with the fact that I let myself be triggered. I am even at peace with the fact that it happened insofar as I am grateful for this opportunity to learn. I don’t wish this hadn’t happened or that I can forever avoid conflict. I am not demanding or even secretly wishing that the other person change, though I am very curious about what will reveal itself and shift in me now that I’ve started observing this dynamic.
I wouldn’t go so far to say this is “loving what is.” For me it feels more like holding What Is in my expansive center, and letting the natural lightness of my being bring me to higher ground. I used to think it took a lot of energy “being the bigger person,” but once you know the pathway into your sacred center, it is as easy as breathing. This is gentle work, and yet it is powerful enough to take you through life’s greatest challenges.