“One should be in harmony with, not in opposition to, the strength and force of the opposition. This means that one should do nothing that is not natural or spontaneous; the important thing is not to strain in any way” – Bruce Lee
We love endings. There is something so satisfying about completion and achievement. Chaos, and the tension that arrives from it, is really frustrating. When we feel tension, we just want to shake it off. We have a psychological need to unravel knotted chaos into straightforward clarity. It’s so much more attractive to see loose ends tied-up. Putting limits on things makes them easier to deal with and move on from, so we unconsciously rush to the finish line to put an end to the trials of a process.
We’ve all heard that “it’s about the journey, not the destination”, but it is difficult to appreciate the in-betweens. We are creatures of beginning and ends. Think of the sun: we find its rising and setting more soothing, yet the midday sun is often too blinding to recognize as beautiful in all its intensity. In the same way, the tensions and intricacies of any process are often difficult to appreciate.
How can we learn to abandon this limited mentality?
1. Ask yourself, what does the end really mean?
Many times endings are subjective. We usually have some sort of self-imposed standard we want to reach to feel satisfied. Any artist will know that often we have to keep going to reach that “ah-ha!” moment to come to an end. But art, like many things, cannot be forced to completion. Even if through a process things are eventually tied together by our standards, in reality the possibilities and creativity are ever flowing. Life is ever flowing. There is no perfection or finished piece. Accept that. Be more confident with the unfinished so you can continue to flow easily through whatever process.
2. Remember that everything passes.
We know that nothing in life lasts forever, neither the “good” nor the “bad”: no need to subject yourself to the unpleasantness of complaining about things when you could choose to find peace in their fleetingness. It is only when we cling to our resistance of tension that we suffer. Allowing tension to exist as an inevitable and fleeting part of an ever moving process, it loses its ability to hinder us.
3. Make Space.
Things cannot pass or dissipate without space. Let’s pretend tension is a drop of black ink in a glass of water. The body of water is you. If the black ink is dropped in a small volume of water, it is more concentrated. When we constrict ourselves by trying to resist tensions, they are more overpowering. If we diluted the ink with more water, it would dissipate and lose its ability to darken the liquid. When we make space for tensions to exist, they become a small speck in the bigger picture. So remember to make space. Breathe and stretch when you feel stress, don’t tighten up or strain yourself more. Relax into it, and open up to what you’re experiencing. This deactivates the Sympathetic Nervous System (the “fight or flight” response) and activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System (the rest and digest system). Your heart rate will literally slow down. Create space for the stress to exist and eventually dissipate.
4. See the beauty in the conflict.
The obstacles we experience are often there to reveal unhealed parts of ourselves: they are not negative, they are necessary. I like to think of them as a sort of prompt, or short cut, to discovering what we need to work on. In relationships, a little conflict with our loved ones is actually a good thing if we embrace it and attend to it without resistance. It reminds us of the parts of us we could love more, and only then can we grow closer into union with the other person (since the people we attract are just mirrors of ourselves after all). Let go of the need to orchestrate every moment to perfection, and trust the tension is there to reveal something beautiful that you would otherwise not see if things were flowing ‘easily’.
It is through tensions that we derive real meaning and fulfilment. So let’s not hinder our evolution, let’s dive deep into every uncertainty with boundless acceptance and trust that all the chaos is there to serve us to grow. Light can only shine clarity into us through the cracks; lets allow them to exist so we can rediscover a higher understandings of ourselves.
By Isabella Gucci-Ruffalo xoxo