Ah, the human mind. It’s such a powerful tool.
But it does love to flit around and judge. Wanting this, not wanting that. Pulling and pushing. Attachment and aversion.
All too often never quite satisfied with what we have here and now.
It’s all rather tiring isn’t it?
The mind pulls us out of this moment and stops us enjoying the people we are with, or the quiet-time we’re allowing ourselves, or the simple pleasures of sights and sounds around us which can bring us joy and enrich our lives.
Off it goes
Here’s an example which came up for me recently.
Last weekend was the Yoga Show in London. I always go. But this year I didn’t. I needed and wanted to be with my husband and his parents in south Wales instead. Decision made weeks ago. All fine.
And then I went on Instagram and Facebook and found feeds full of pics from the Yoga Show. And I suddenly felt a really strong pull and wanted to be there. A story started going through my head – it’s not fair, I’m missing out, I could be there meeting up with Dru yoga friends and colleagues. I wish I was there.
Ah, here I go again!
I caught myself in the act of wishing my circumstances in this moment were different. I’d gone off into the whirlwind of my thoughts and a day dream of the wonderful time I could be having at the Yoga Show (even though in reality I find it overwhelming, over-commercialised and tiring!).
Be here now
So, I stopped. And breathed.
And said to myself five little words:
It is as it is.
I am here, not there. I am where I am. It is as it is.
Five tiny words with the power to transform our lives and how we think and feel about our circumstances.
Five little words which remind us to let go of wishing things were different.
Five little words which bring acceptance and peace.
Five little words which, when used regularly, can change your life.
How many times a day do you tell yourself something shouldn’t be this way or should be that way?
You slept through your alarm clock. OK, that’s inconvenient but beating yourself up isn’t going to turn back time. It is as it is.
Your partner left the kitchen in a mess doing their breakfast. Again. Shouting at them or running a story in your head about how lazy they are isn’t going to clear up the crumbs. It is as it is.
You get stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work. Getting angry and frustrated isn’t going to move the traffic any quicker. It is as it is.
Your daughter asks you to do some last-minute baby-sitting. You say yes when really you wanted a quiet afternoon to yourself. Well, you made your decision and feeling put-upon and annoyed with yourself isn’t going to enrich the time spent with your grandchild. It is as it is.
You’re at yoga class and your back feels tense and your hips feel stuck and you begin to judge your body and wish it felt more open. Self-criticism is not going to improve your flexibility. It is as it is.
And here’s another personal example: I’ve sat down to meditate. My left leg’s gone numb and I can’t stop thinking. Oh what’s the point this is a bad meditation I may as well give up. Then I remember it is as it is and sit with the physical sensations. I watch my mind running around – and yes I get caught up in thoughts sometimes. But, it is as it is. And I sit for a while longer.
And so it goes on…
How is it for you?
When was the last time you found yourself resisting a situation you were in? Berating yourself? Criticising others? Telling yourself it should be different?
How would it feel to breathe and say to yourself “well, it is at it is”?
This non-judging, open, patient, kind attitude is central to the practice of mindfulness.
It’s a kind of letting be and letting go.
We notice the strong feelings within ourselves: perhaps of anger, sadness, frustration, grief and let them be: “it is as it is”.
And in letting them be, they loosen our grip on us. In letting the thoughts, feelings and emotions be, we can actually begin to let them go.
Watch and witness
It all starts with an attitude of witnessing your inner landscape, acknowledging what is present and allowing things to be as they are without resistance or clinging by repeating to ourselves “it is as it is”.
Try noticing and attempting to accept things as they are here in this moment – “it is as it is” – without judging, criticising, resisting, attaching, comparing or trying to change them.
Stop fighting and battling and striving. It is as it is.
This is particularly important when we’re dealing with people we find challenging. It is so true that the only person you can change is yourself. Quit wishing the person in front of you was more reasonable / more open-minded / calmer etc etc.
They are as they are. It is as it is. The world is as it is.
In this way we can learn to find peace and happiness in daily life.
We no longer have to place conditions on our happiness. We understand that we can create the conditions inside us for happiness, peace and contentment to arise, no matter what is going on around us.
And in doing so, we free up a lot of mental energy to allow us to focus on enjoying the here and now.
So, next time you find yourself disassociating from what’s in front of you because you wish it was different, say to yourself “it is as it is”; breathe; create some head space. Let go of the striving and pain.
It is as it is and here in this moment, all is well.