Tag Archives: peace

Muck Stuck

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Many words of wisdom have reached my ears, and unfortunately many have become lost in the fog that is my memory. One phrase, however, has faithfully popped back in my mind during times of increased stress and trouble.

Claire, sometimes when you’re stuck in the muck, you just gotta sit in it.

I still remember my reaction when I heard those words.

What?!

That can’t be right.

That doesn’t make sense…does it? Just sitting there?

How will I get out?!

Wait….

And then, a sense of overwhelming peace and reassurance.

Wow, it’s so true. THANK YOU.

I didn’t know who I was thanking, and I still don’t. I do know, however, that meditating on this concept has brought me an exuberant (yes, exuberant) amount of confidence and inner peace.

Whether we want to believe it or not, we can’t possibly control every situation in our life. The amount of control we do have is based solely on our actions and reactions to what we experience. For instance, I may not be able to control the fact that our car is now completely useless. I can, however, control how I choose to see the situation.

Honestly, the situation has been pretty stressful to me. The whole reason we (my partner Raven and I) came back to Vermont was to pay off the car so we could travel without financial obligations. We’ve been having an unusually hard time finding means to make money, and not for lack of trying – I’ve diligently scoured craigslist, asked everyone I know (and don’t know) for any job opportunities they may know of, written a new resume, applied for jobs…you name it. Still, it didn’t matter. Weeks after weeks of searching to find pretty much nothing.

Then, three days ago, the entire car pretty much stopped working. The transmission went kaput, the alternator fell out, the belt wore down, the brakes were about to fail, and the supposedly “new” battery was about dead. The car went from working to useless in a matter of hours.

We were angry, we were scared, we were stressed, we were confused. There was plenty of yelling and crying to go around.

My first thought when encountering a breakdown (car, life, or otherwise) like this is almost always the same:

How can I get out of this situation?

I kind of see the situation as a puzzle to figure out, or a challenge to complete. Get things “back to normal”, and you’ll win.

Win what?

The answer was never clear.

Then, I realized that I was asking the wrong question entirely. The situation didn’t happen simply for me to try to escape it – like the good times, the bad times also exist for me to experience. Struggling in the muck will only further entrap me, bogging me down as I sink deeper into filth. But if I can just let it be and simply sit, focusing on my own inner peace instead of the outside stressors, it’ll be much easier to see the way out. Also, just throwing it out there – mud is not a bad or negative substance. It pulls the toxins out of our bodies, and even supports certain forms of life.

As Thich Naht Hahn said:

 

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Today’s meditation:

How has “the muck” enriched your life?

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The Bigger Picture

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From the Daily Post:

How do you handle conflict? Boldly and directly? Or, do you prefer a more subtle approach?

 

I’ve never been much for direct conflict. I’m not really passive-aggressive, I just like to avoid yelling matches. That being said, I’m also not one to let tension drag out without resolution, because that’s just really annoying. Who likes to walk on eggshells for weeks on end?

Personally, I try to keep things calm so that conflict doesn’t arise. Anger is a powerful emotion, and I don’t want it unleashing near me if I can help it. Over time, with much deep breathing, mistake-making, and reluctant self-control, I’ve learned to try dispelling tension before any threat of conflict. It’s definitely not always easy, especially when you’re up against someone who just has it out for you (and that’s happened before…not fun!). But if I see that the waters are starting to get choppy, I sit back and try to think of the best way to calm the imminent explosion.

How do I do that? Well, simply put, I choose to lose. If someone comes at me with the intent to start conflict, I suck in my pride – which is SO hard sometimes – and choose not to be aggravated. I give the other person the “win”, and just try to stay calm and peaceful within myself. Now, this wouldn’t work as well if the conflict were somehow to directly influence my well-being. If someone were trying to hurt me, for example, I’d take a much more defensive approach…and probably get the hell out of there as soon as possible. But most conflict, honestly, arises from REALLY petty problems. People lash out at each other over the stupidest things, and it’s just a waste of energy. I would know – I’ve been there many times! But by staying kind and peaceful as much as possible, I find that it’s easier to break the cycle of hurt and keep those vibes positive.

I’ve also found that it’s easier to stay calm when I look at the circumstances surrounding the potential conflict, instead of focusing in on me vs. them. You never know what’s causing a person to lash out; people misplace their emotions all the time. That person could be going through something really tough, with no healthy outlet. Allowing them to vent their anger might be just the thing they need, even if it is unfair to you. When I look at the bigger picture, I can stay calm a lot more easily and let kindness lead the way.