Lately I have been noticing how uncomfortable I am with being comfortable. Weird, right?
Or maybe not. I had a hard childhood. I struggled to survive in a very dysfunctional environment. I had parents who struggled to make ends meet, to make their marriage work, to make everything ok. Their parents struggled to survive in many ways, as their parents before them.
I come from a long line of strugglers.
This is an example of the way energies get passed down through lineages. We inherit much. Some of what we inherit is lovely and worth keeping. Much of what we inherit is outdated.
For example, my dad’s parents were orphans. They were both abandoned at a young age. My grandmother was adopted by abusive parents. My grandfather was never adopted and was on his own by the time he was 11. Talk about struggle.
Then, my grandparents met, got married and had children, whom they abused. You get the picture.
So here I am, many years later, living (thankfully) a very different life, with a very different skill set. It is a life that I am consciously creating. I have a lot to show for it. I don’t struggle under the same pressures that my parents did. My life has challenges, to be sure, but my basic needs are more than met, I have amazing, supportive, wonderful people in my life, I do what I love for a living and do as I please in my free time. I have plenty of resources, and generally good health.
Yet, I struggle. Even when there is nothing to struggle over, I find myself working harder than I need to, feeling like I should be doing more, pushing more, achieving more, feeling like I have to fight with everything to win a better life for myself. I find myself clenching my jaw, furrowing my brow and struggling to push myself, my projects and my life ever forward, towards some unattainable, invisible goal.
Now there is nothing wrong with ambition, but what I am describing here has a much harsher quality. (Although I think many of us confuse ambition with struggle) What I am describing is a fight. A fight against an enemy that doesn’t exist. (Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield sometimes calls this “the war with Reality”).
It makes no sense. Until you look at my ancestry; that linage of struggle that I emerged from. This is what is sometimes referred to as “ancestral karma.”
Couple this karma with our current cultural beliefs. We live in a “no pain, no gain” society. Being stressed out, way too busy and working your ass off is considered an admirable thing, and a marker of success.
(I’m sorry I just did that. I promised myself once I would never use acronyms in my writing. The moment really seemed to call for it though. I mean, seriously, WTF?)
I know that I’m not the only one out there who comes from a long line of strugglers, and I know I’m not the only one out there who has been influenced by the no pain no gain culture that we are all swimming in.
This kind of energy, be it from our ancestors or from modern-day, is toxic. It’s toxic because it makes everything, guess what, a struggle.
We create our reality in part by how we choose to view it. If I believe, consciously or unconsciously, that my whole life or most of my life or the most important parts of my life are supposed to be a struggle, then that is what I will experience, regardless of the external circumstances.
The good news is, ease is always available. All I have to do is choose it, external circumstances notwithstanding; I can be running around like a chicken with my head cut off, completely swamped, and be totally relaxed and peaceful.
Transmuting this toxic energy is really all about finding this inherit capacity to be at ease in each moment, no matter what I’m up to. And then finding it again. And again. And again. Asking myself, “how can make this easier? How can I let go? Where can I loosen my grip?”
Over time, the energy shifts. Over time, I claim my autonomy from the struggles and sorrows of the past. As the pattern shifts I bring my energy and my life into the present moment, where I can live my own story, and sing my own song.
To live with a sense of ease is radical thing to do in this culture. It is a form of activism; a way that I can embody that change that I want to see in the world.
When I find my capacity for ease I also give a huge gift to my family; to any future children, and to my lineage, on whose shoulders I stand. I am able to the healing that my ancestors could not. The struggle ends with me.
“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
— Chinese Proverb