Original post: December 2015
EASE in Holidays, Hardship, Life
Think of ease as part of your guidance system. It shows up as an indicator that you're on-track, that you're approaching something with the right method or mindset, that life is giving you a YES. Ease goes with alignment and flow, with nonresistance, with grace. When things feels complicated and ponderous and irritating in the details—look again for what else is possible. Ask this directly, a simple, powerful question: What else is possible? Or this: What could you let go here, including the whole thing?
Don't set things up to be hard. Sometimes someone describes to me how hard something is, and it turns out some (much, all) of the burden is self-created. Remember that things can be approached any number of ways, and you don't have to do the most exacting, most time-consuming, most labor-intensive version. Watch for the following pitfalls that may hold you to the hard route:
Watch for ease, find the ease, focus on ease. Do this especially when things feel challenging or the situation seems inherently problematic. Intend ease, create ease, notice any modicum of ease—even in small doses. Drop out of complaining as quickly as you hear yourself in it and talk about ease instead. Quit focusing on what's hard; quit telling the story of how hard it is. (I know I don't have to spell out what that gets you more of.) Even where you have less choice in the matter, you certainly have the choice to watch for and focus on ease.
(Ugly illustration alert.) When I was dealing with a parasite in my household, there was a grossly unfamiliar amount of cleaning and laundry involved. I definitely had a choice: I wanted to do all this cleaning so that our home and bodies could be clear and healthy. It took time and labor. It was work that I don't typically go for with great gusto. As the only adult in this household, I was the one to do this work. So as I found myself washing bedding again, every day, I would give a mental nod to women who scrub laundry on the rocks at the riverside. Next to that lifestyle, this was (bad-pun-metaphor alert) another day at the beach. There's a clothesline in my backyard, and I love pinning up laundry to dry in the sun and open air; there's also a marvelous dryer in my basement that, at the touch of a button, does its job in less than an hour. I felt so appreciative of it, and of having the choice to use the extra resources and unburden myself. My son and I shook our heads over clean bedsheets EVERY SINGLE NIGHT so many nights in a row—pure luxury, livin' on easy street!
Make tricky situations or dealing with unpleasant people into a game. As soon as fun or humor or the idea of playing a game comes into any scenario, so does greater ease. When someone drives you crazy, consider that you're both allowing that and perpetuating it, as you stroke the hackles on the back of your neck and review again (in thought or speech) how hard it is for you to be around this maddening human being. Come up with a way to generate a different internal (and possibly external) response to predictable behavior. Someone told me about making up a bingo game to keep her occupied when she was on the phone with her mother. There were certain habitual things her mom was almost certain to say or do, so she captured these with little symbols on a homemade bingo board and filled in the blocks as the conversation went along. This strikes me as pure genius (and hilarious). Much better than gritting your teeth and blowing a gasket every time the annoyance trigger gets pulled!
I've talked to many different clients about managing interactions with problematic people they don't want to oust from their lives altogether. Instead of being shocked and outraged by what's not a bit surprising (even if they outdo themselves, it still lines up with the usual fare, right?), you can make a game of watching them with admiration for how well they play their character. This is much more fun than watching with judgment, feeling irked and appalled. Applaud the brilliant acting! They've got this character nailed! When they outdo themselves, give an internal standing ovation for this award-winning rendition of themselves, just when you thought you knew all their tricks.
A client facing the holidays described to me the irritation of watching a relative visibly shrink from someone who's coughing or who mentions being sick, constantly making much of her feeble immune system and what she might catch next. Why not make a game of how quickly this gets introduced in the day's gathering (time it!)? Or keep count of how many instances of gonna-get-sick talk occur. (I'm thinking of a private game, not a group event, so it doesn't get mean. The point isn't to hate on the person who irritates you, but to dispel the irritation and get to greater ease through playfulness.)
Quit wearing badges related to hard work. I'm not from my father's pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps era, but still today I notice a lot of cultural messages out there about working hard for anything of value, and getting to feel proud about accomplishments only if they come of hard work. What if we bragged about effortlessness? What if we stressed how much ease we managed to infuse into potentially difficult paths and processes? Sometimes people I work with are seeking to go for a career change or an entrepreneurial endeavor that truly comes of who they are, of their passion, of a dream they've had for some time. Ease is one of the things that characterize the venture for them. I'm not saying they don't work hard: they do, but it's the kind of hard that isn't exhausting, that creates a momentum to propel them onward, that has at least some hefty component of I-could-eat-this-for-dessert—even as they must learn to market the thing or keep the books straight or put in plenty of hours to attend to tasks they love. All the hard stuff is worth it to support the stuff that puts them in the flow.
Get more present, right now. It may seem like the opposite would be true, but the more consciously you show up to experience in full color the details of tricky things going on in your world, the more easily you move through them. There's no resistance in presence: you're willing to be here, for whatever it is. So bring your awareness and five glorious senses to bear on the task at hand, even the most arduous or despicable task (event, conversation, boring-go-nowhere-limbo kind of moment), and you'll stay put with greater ease (and potentially more quickly catch the wave to get out).
Resources from others on ease
I learned from Byron Katie to look for all that supports you, and to sit there cataloging it when you feel alone or unsupported: appliances, furniture, the floor, the ceiling, the working phone, food, clean water, the trees, an animal presence, silence, the option to think of any song you've ever loved and find it in a YouTube search. Martha Beck talks about focusing on something that feels good or neutral in your body when you're feeling pain in another part or parts. How much of your marvelous body works?! You might google Deepak Chopra and the Law of Least Effort--you'll find some cool stuff comes up. Finally, here's an audio-clip from Abraham Hicks demonstrating the good kind of self-talk to remind yourself about and scooch toward a concept of ease when your impulse based on history is to insist it must be hard (in this case applied to relationship).
Wishing you a new year of increasing ease,