Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, February 11, 2017 - Start Looking Forward to Stopping

    I spent much of my adult life resenting stop lights. I want to move, not grind my brakes to powder in the second hilliest city in the country stopping at every single red light and sign.
Attempting to intuit a solution to my tension about this issue (which I definitely inherited from my father), I actually looked to one of the prevailing life practice concepts from many world faiths. Nonresistance. “What we resist persists,” Carl Jung said. There is deep truth to that.
When we resist someone or something it has a tendency to use its creativity to develop bigger armor and weapons against us. Nonresistance means working toward what you actually want rather than pushing against—and ultimately giving your energy to—the very thing you don’t want.
    I was definitely resistant to traffic lights. But if I felt stress from their existence, what good would that do me? They are a reality of life in any town larger than 250 people. Resisting traffic lights is futile. If I get upset every time I’m stopped by one, I will eventually hate driving altogether. Raging against a red light is not only pointless, it’s a missed opportunity.
I believe it is our right to feel good. That doesn’t mean we will feel good all the time. But if we make a practice of feeling good on a regular basis, the darker moments won’t feel quite as devastating when they arrive. It’s the same for someone who has a heart attack but was a regular practitioner of yoga for five years prior. Yoga won’t prevent all health problems, but it will greatly increase recovery time as well as minimize the damage when health problems occur.
Making a priority of feeling good prepares us for when things go wrong. Our minds are clearer, our bodies are literally attuned to gently recover from shock. But a nonresistant life practice requires creativity and vigilance. It requires that we pay attention to how we feel all the time and do what we can to regularly tweak our feelings in better directions.
This won’t prevent your child from getting an F on his report card. God knows a caring home didn’t prevent me from getting them. But if you are nonresistant to the F’s you’ll be more calm about them. If you’re more calm, you might be open to intuiting solutions which will actually work rather than simply grounding him. How will punishment encourage better grades? Suspending them from school doesn’t make better students either, but that’s how we traditionally respond to students who resist authority. Acting out means something. Listen honestly.
I decided to stop resisting traffic lights. I just sat there quietly monitoring my feelings to see if I could come up with a little trick to feel better. I fidgeted at the first light. Even the second. At the next, however, without thinking, I started counting my breaths. I took 18 deep cleansing breaths before the light turned green. I felt like a new man.

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