I just returned from a vacation to visit a dear friend who’s in the Peace Corps in Paraguay, South America. Whenever I travel, and especially when I’m exploring a foreign place, I’m reminded of the importance of surrendering into the flow of life. We can call it the way, the Tao, effortlessness, or cooperating with reality. I really like that last term. I was introduced to this way of describing acceptance by a Zen teacher named Adyashanti, through his book on awakening called, The End of Your World.
Towards the beginning of our trip, my friend and I made our way to the terminal in Asuncion, Paraguay, to catch a bus that we would be on for 4 hours, to go to Oviedo. We approached the terminal and saw that a bus heading that way was just leaving. We flagged the bus down, threw our big packs underneath, and hopped on board. We walked up the stairs to see that the bus was overpacked, and there was standing room only. STANDING ROOM ONLY ON A 4 HOUR BUS TREK! I looked at my friend and said, “Oh no, we can’t do this,” and he replied, “It’s happening!”. That much was true, the bus was already speeding away.
For a minute (or two) I was resisting the experience, AKA freaking out. I desperately wanted the moment to be different than it was, and I was suffering because of it. I was regretful, anxious, angry, and fearful. And then there was my friend’s reaction…while this awasn’t his ideal experience, he was accepting the situation. While he wasn’t comfortable, he wasn’t suffering as I was. And as soon as I exhaled and settled into standing, a young girl sitting on a seat next to me climbed on her mother’s lap, opening up her seat for me to take. And then 30 minutes later, the mother and the girl got to their stop, and another seat opened up for my friend.
When we let go of resisting reality, the more we open up to the potential space all around us. When you feel resistance, first, notice it without judgement or criticism. Feel the anger, frustration, or fear. It’s not bad or wrong to experience these sorts of feelings. In fact, it’s quite important to really feel them if that’s what’s surfacing in your awareness. And after feeling the feelings, make a conscious decision to cooperate with the reality of the situation. How can you participate in creating your experience? Soften where you feel constriction. Breathe space into rigidity, and notice what happens…. This is the practice.
Whether the trek is across the globe or across town, many blessings to you on your journey of acceptance!