“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself? The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment. Not seeking, not expecting, she is present, and can welcome all things.” – Tao De Ching
I woke up one day this week and everything felt shitty. I was cold in bed, woken mid-dream from a deep sleep and the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes, was everything ahead of me that day. It was 4am and thinking about this, going into the future fast and fierce, made everything feel more shitty. I was going down the rabbit hole and I hadn’t even stepped out of bed. I stumbled on Clark’s toy, splashed cold water on my face and sat for meditation. Thankfully something took right over and I dropped in. Just as I was getting really deep, the bell rang. Thirty minutes already gone and I was completely annoyed that I didn’t go for my usual forty minutes. At this point, I was finding everything to be highly irritating. I needed my tool kit and hard hat. I had a new day of work ahead, the inner kind.
In the past, I would have fallen into feeling bitchy without question and met it with more bitchy, which always led to more shitty. I’ve been down this road many times. I’m familiar with the terrain but this day, I decided early on that I was not going to keep choosing it. I would do everything necessary not to make it more shitty. I knew this meant that my day would now be focused on mustering as much patience I could in every moment. From here, I would let the shitty run its course with minimal damage instead being human wrecking ball taking everything down in my path. There is something so delicious about indulging a shitty mood and spreading that all over everyone. Having much experience in this department, I know that this way of being never brings me joy, only suffering and lots of it.
Through practicing mindfulness, first on my mat and now in my life, I’ve been able to pave a new road. It was bumpy and hard to navigate at first but now it’s feels more delicious to indulge a new mindset in the wake of feeling shitty. I am fully against spreading negativity in my life and committed to not taking it out on my loved ones, my dogs or myself ever again. This road is no longer bumpy and I know how to navigate it. That doesn’t mean I snap my fingers and results happen, it’s an extreme practice in presence. I am not immune to feeling shitty but I see now that I have the option to choose away from negativity.
Making this choice is not the easiest option especially if this is a new practice but even Buddha said that the road to awakening is not for the faint of heart. We cannot extinguish our emotions like water on fire. We have to ride them out like a wave. The choosing comes in our option to react to the stimulus of feeling shitty or start paving a new path and wait for these feelings to dissipate because they will. This requires patience and patience requires presence. People spend their entire lives trying to get present when really, it is one of the simplest tasks you’ll ever do.
First, you must STOP. Second, bring your awareness to something that is happening now. The breath is a perfect place to go because it is always happening now and it is directly tied into your nervous system. Feeling shitty is stressful to the body and mind, shifting into your healing nervous system will benefit you immediately. Exhalation is governed by your healing nervous system so to put that in dominance, simply extend your exhale longer than your inhale. Listen to the entire breath, then start again, and again, and again. Understand that the shitty is not who you are and by not feeding it, the emotion will pass quicker. With patience you will get to the other side.
Although there were many barbs and punches along the way that day, I kept returning my awareness to the sound of my breath. This popped me back into presence where I could notice what I was doing with clarity. Each time I brought awareness to the moment, I felt a shift, which reminded me that the shitty was all in my mind. I moved through the morning well considering the weight of shit in my way, and felt extra grateful for the connections that I made with others. I relied on those interactions to pull me in deeper to what was happening now. I remained steadfast until about 3pm when, while in the middle of a training ride, all of a sudden the shitty started to fall away. I actually saw a parting sky in my mind. I welled up a bit in gratitude that I was coming to the other side of it. I had a knowing that I was released from suffering much sooner than if I had I fed it or not questioned its validity. Despite the length and weight of my day, I decided to finish it with a yoga practice at the studio. The 7pm class, which always feels too late for me, quickly became my rainbow, leftover from the storm.
From child’s pose to savasana, I listened to my breath and felt fluidity in my body once again. I was on the other side and even though much of my day felt shitty, I was grateful that I never made it shittier and that no one was taken down along the way. We have the power to manage our state of being at any time, any place regardless of the circumstance. Start with presence and return to it as much as you need until your mud settles and water becomes clear again.