And how difficult it is to stay there!
During the last few weeks I’ve managed to truly enter into a state that I recognise as crucial to my wellbeing. It’s very reminiscent of my way of being, that led to my first recovery.
It’s a lovely way to be. Very peaceful, very present and very open to all the little joys in life. I’ve always known that being in this state was the way I achieved wellness my first time with this illness. 13 years into this second time though, I still rarely achieve it with this kind of consistency. So what’s involved? And why has it been so challenging to keep it up?
Surrendering to what is
This state can be best described as a complete acceptance of what is, on a moment to moment level. It’s a state of no resistance, a state of surrender. It’s important to distinguish that surrender is not ‘giving up’, it’s simply not fighting.
One definition of surrender is
to stop resisting an enemy or opponent
The opponent we most commonly resist is the illness itself. Surrender, when you have chronic illness is all about stopping resisting the illness. This makes a lot of sense to me. Our experience of chronic illness is really our experience of our body’s messages to us that something is wrong. In effect, surrender is really all about not resisting our body’s wisdom. It means recognising that our body’s reaction is not our opponent.
We also tend to resist what we can no longer do, the losses involved in how the illness affects our functioning. Surrender in this respect often involves a grieving process before we reach that peaceful state of accepting what is.
I often put my first healing of this illness to an attitude of relaxed effortlessness. An important nuance of that is a complete lack of resistance, being one with what is, and going with the flow.
Paradoxically, I think one of the things that might have been holding me back this time is that I recovered the first time. The evidence that I have, that recovery is possible drives me in that direction. No matter how good I get at relaxing or how accepting I get of where I am in the moment, the next moment I slip into the mindset of ‘so what will I do next to get better?’ I guess being a coach can reinforce that drive to move forward too. But that drive to move forward is actually a form of resistance to what is.
I often find that surrender is much easier for me when things are really bad. As soon as I start to feel better I tend to want to accelerate the process with action. Action in itself isn’t a problem, but it really does depend on whether that action is driven by resistance, or whether it is a natural expression of your wholeness in harmony with what is.
I think that’s why I love the quote ‘do nothing and nothing shall remain undone’ by LaoTzu. It’s all about allowing action to arise from a natural harmonious place within you.
So how do you tell the difference between resistance driven action and harmonious action? On a moment to moment basis, the easiest way to distinguish them is with the concepts of pressure and ease. Are you feeling any pressure to take the action that you’re taking? Does the action flow with ease or is there a sense of effort involved?
Looking back over the last 13 years, there have been times of lots of progress, times my health has improved, but it’s also quite easy to recognise how pressures have slowed that improvement down. Most of this pressure is pressure that I’ve created myself. The pressure to support myself financially and the pressure to keep moving towards better health.
Over the last few weeks though I’ve been able to let go of pressure altogether. I’ve really accepted that it’s OK to be exactly where I am right now. I don’t have to be healing, I don’t have to be making progress. I don’t have to be doing the 101 things that I know how to do to improve my wellbeing. Surrendering to what is, being at peace is enough. In fact it’s more than enough, it opens me up to more joy and more love. It’s a really pleasant and healthy place to be.
My initial healing was incidental to learning to be at peace with what is, to ‘being one’ and going with the flow. For the last 13 years I’ve been doing a lot of that but I’ve also been driving myself to get better. Driving myself to take steps towards getting results.
So please witness my intention: That stops now! Now I surrender.
The challenge will be when my health starts to improve more substantially again. Will I be able to stop myself from putting on the pressure to accelerate those improvements? I’ll let you know!