Pleasure & pain principle
Most people assume that things will always be the way that they are. In fact this assumption is one of the the prime causes of suffering and disconnection. Whether life feels painful or pleasurable we tend to default into thinking that it will always be this way even though from a more rational or practical perspective we know that it won’t be as everything is always changing. Yet we are often in denial or oblivious to the fact of the ever changing nature of life.
Why do we deny the blatantly obvious changing nature of life? It almost always comes down to not wanting to feel loss of something. Change means that things will come and go. Some things we don’t want to let go of because they feel so good to us. This could be a relationship, a family structure, the state of our body or health, the place we live, some possession we own, a job/career, etc. We desire it and thus grasp onto it at all cost. We feel pain at the thought of losing something we love or cherish in our experience. This is a natural part of the human experience and yet the root of our suffering. It is also the motivation for our attempts to control or manage all aspects of our life. This is not only exhausting to us on a mental-emotional level, it also affects the health and functioning of our body.
The other side of perpetuating the illusion of permanence is when we don’t like our experience or what we tend to call pain. For example we may be in a relationship we don’t want, have a sensation in our body that we don’t like, or dislike our job/career and yet we feel hopeless and like there is no way out or through. We feel like it is just going to always be this way permanently and we find ourselves trapped in the illusion of solidity and fixation rather than realizing the ever changing nature of life that includes each and every expression and form.
The uncertainty of things coming and going leaves us feeling like we are tethered to nothing at all and this experience of freedom is too much for most minds. Minds like to know what comes next and will do their best to create certainty even if that certainty comes in the form of something we don’t want or prefer such as an uncomfortable body sensation, a job that we are over or a relationship that has ran its course. The thing is that we don’t live in a certain, stable or known world. In fact we live in the exact opposite. Our resistance to uncertainty, instability and the mysterious nature of life keeps us trapped in a prison that lives only inside of our own minds. This prison is home for most and what they believe reality to be.
Embracing the Comings & Goings
A gateway to gratitude
If asked, most people would say they prefer freedom and joy rather than constraint and suffering, and yet most people choose constraint and suffering without even realizing that it is their choice. The way that we choose joy and freedom is through fully accepting and inviting in the ever changing nature of life. By embracing the comings and goings we find ourselves in a perpetual state of gratitude and awe for life rather than attempting to manage and control it.
Take for example the novelty of a new relationship, job, house or any other exciting thing. In this beginning stage we often find ourselves elated and what many would name as “in love”. We are in love because we are not taking anything for granted nor making anything too solid or permanent. We don’t yet have assumptions about what will occur, as we don’t really know yet. We have lots of excitement, but not too much attachment because there hasn’t been much of ourselves invested yet. We feel hopefully for possibilities and yet remain in an open state of being in regards to how it all looks and feels. There is much to be revealed, determined and experienced as we live it. Most people love being in this novelty phase of unfixed excitement, yet it doesn’t take long for the mind to come in and attempt to make things more solid. Particularly as we develop routines with these new aspects of our lives and they become more “integrated”, ordinary, solid or real.
As soon as things become increasingly and increasingly more fixed we simultaneously “lose” that feeling of love. This is not a coincidence. What we really “lose” is novelty and the unattached state of gratitude that comes with it. We create solid where there is not really solid and then when our sense of solid either become too solid (where we feel suffocated) or becomes less solid (when we we aren’t wanting it to change) we suffer.
The less moveable and flexible we are with the comings and goings of life the more we will experience suffering. Again these comings and goings include everything: your body and its sensations and the expressions of ease or dis‘ease’, your relationships with yourself and others, the state of your physical comforts or discomforts, financial resources, business failures or successes, the range of your emotional body, etc. All of these things are always going to be in a state of constant flux. Though there are times when your experience will be that some of aspects of your life are seemingly more stable, this too is just an illusion. Its simply that the relevance/teachings that you are learning from those experiences takes longer or serves you and/or the rest of the creation more so they hang around for a longer duration of time until their relevance is complete.
Everything constructs and deconstructs, stabilizes and destabilizes, binds and becomes free again. This is simply the nature of this universe that we live in. Learning to ride this wave through embracing the comings and goings will keep you in a perpetual state of gratitude, awe and love, which is truly what we desire more than the constant appearance of any aspect of our reality being fixed or staying the same.
Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado