“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
I wonder how you respond to such quotes? To be honest, many times in my life these sayings have brought frustration, sometimes even upset. When we want happiness we want a way to it; we don’t want to hear that it is unreachable, especially in principle! And yet, something in the sayings rings true.
What is Ease?
Merriam-Webster: Ease is freedom from pain or trouble, comfort of body or mind, lack of difficulty, a relaxed and informal way of behaving.
There are many things you already do daily or weekly to find ease, a sense of freedom, comfort, relaxation. Maybe you love your morning run, you get a weekly massage, eat healthy food, find time to rest your mind and body. And you feel it if you don’t care for these and other needs. Relaxation skills and practices are very important, and it’s good to get reminders, to do a course correction when necessary, and to integrate the qualities we long for into our lives. My free course “Relaxing into Meditation” can be of help here.
However, now I’d like to focus on a special sense of ease that is a little more mysterious. There is a form of ease that we can’t reach by merely relaxing, as opposed to doing. Instead it begins in our understanding.
Mode of Life
The mode of life our society expects from us is a controlling one. We know if we want to get A we need to do B. But this mode does not bring us ease. With this mode we can get results, but these results don’t last. I found again and again in my life that the results of my efforts were not worth my efforting. I felt a curious pull to give up. It was scary, because I felt I had to strive to survive, but at the same time something in me just did not want to participate in life this way anymore. And so I finally gave up. Or more exactly, I started giving up, a lot. It was not just a frustrated throwing in of the towel. It was more a kind of release of effort, over and over again.
I had noticed that when I tried to do something with effort and tension that this method never got me the results I was looking for. It was like finally seeing that the way I had learned to go about things was impossible. There was often laughter in this, laughing about myself in a loving way. At the beginning when it felt scary, I thought that the lack of striving would mean I would become ineffective and lazy. In fact, the main difference I began to experience was a much stronger sense of choice. I learned that even in the midst of energetic activity striving doesn’t have to be my inner atmosphere.
What could I choose instead of my old habit? Basically I gave up trying to reach things that felt out of reach. I opened my senses instead to what was actually in my life already. I think by learning to be in the moment as the moment was, I learned to focus on the possible instead of the impossible.
The Beauty of Ease
It’s not so easy to reach a dream, but we can find, see, and reach the beauty of what is. Prior to hitting the wall of effort, I had been focusing on a dream of what I wanted to experience, because I did not like the reality I was experiencing. I had a view of it, and it wasn’t a good one. By keeping a view of my reality in place, I was unable to see something else. Whenever we decide that we don’t like something and that it should or has to change, we turn reality into an ugly snapshot, and carry it with us as we try to get away from it. Thankfully, we don’t need to change reality, because it changes all by itself; and we don’t have the power to change it anyway. The only thing we can change is our focus, our view.
Our Focus, Our View
Even if we achieve a very beautiful snapshot, and we are at our dream beach with our dream companions in our dream weather, we might find ourselves in the same mood we had at our irritating job. Again, what we have is our focus, our view.
There is always the half full and the half empty glass. What is good right now? What also happened that day when everything went south? Did the sun shine? Did a person smile at you when you hurried down the street? Did the coffee taste extremely good before you spilled it on your dress?
Quality of Giving up and Trusting
So, ease has the quality of giving up achieving, of developing a focus on the good, but even more, finding real ease is knowing that there is good right now, knowing that we are good, that others are good, that life is good, that there is meaning and purpose right here. It’s also knowing that everyone is doing the best they can right now. We can let go for a moment and just relax into this knowing. We might not quite see it, we might doubt it, but in our being we can begin to know it, we can begin to trust it. Real ease can only come from a deep trust in the goodness of reality. How could it be otherwise?
I hope you’ll have a wonderful week of November!