I was suffering from ennui. Then I was led, through a series of misadventures, to learning this: there is only one thing I need to do in order to live the life I suspect is available to me. I need to ask a question.
Only one question
Does this fulfill or is it resistance? Does this behavior, idea, belief, expectation, thought, action, excuse, response, desire, decision, need, statement, activity, food, direction, etc. — does this lead me toward fulfillment, or is it resistance? Because it is either one or the other.
Resistance — let me count the ways
So I began a list of all the ways I have exhibited resistance in my life; a list of the definitions of resistance, to better recognize it when it comes around again. And I began with where I was — ennui. From there my list grew to include crabby, defended/defending (which of course has it’s own sub-list of definitions), arrogant, bored, confusion, automatic response, eating, drinking, anxious, uncurious about someone, irritable, self-righteous, judgmental. And that’s just off the top of my head!
Fulfillment — only this
And my list for fulfillment? Appreciation. Love. And curiosity that arises from love.
Breath plays a role
But there are times when one form of resistance or another seems to be the only way to fulfillment! That’s when BREATH comes in. I breathe — once, twice — and then I know if this fulfills, or if it is resistance. I feel the difference between fulfillment and resistance, and in the feeling I know.
There’s something to be said for ease
The argument could be made — I know because I do make it — that everything, sooner or later, in one way or another, eventually and always leads to fulfillment. Everything, no matter how irritating or how dreadful, brings to us a quality essential to fulfillment, if we but search for it.
But there’s something to be said for ease. I can consciously catch the learning before the misadventure/irritation/hardship by asking the question. Ta-da! I come to the same place, but by a more elegant route, a route of ease. In the learning is the joy, and joy need not be tempered by hardship to be sweet.
Practice the question all the time
The question, is this fulfillment or resistance, is not always easy to answer. In the midst of emotional turmoil, or when an honest answer leads to taking a risk, or when someone is whispering their answer in your ear — at times like these, to ask the question can feel like added stress.
So practice with the question all the time. Ask the question and feel the answer in your body. Ask the question when you’re deciding what to do for dinner, when you’re buying clothing, when you’re choosing a book to read, making a phone call, working on the computer, running errands — all the time.
Asking can become second nature. The more you practice when it’s easy, the better off you’ll be when hard times come and you really need to ask. Then even in the midst of emotional turmoil, you can ask, you can breathe, and you can know.
Breath and Water makes it easy
You’re already ahead of the game. When you are practicing Breath and Water, asking this question comes easily. After all, you’re already paying attention, you’re already practicing awareness. The Breath and Water practice leads naturally and easily to asking the question.
Make your list, and send it along
Write your own list of the forms resistance takes. Send your list to me and I’ll pass it on.
Try it. Let me know.
In case you’re wondering…
We left Texas two months ago, when spring was turning to summer. She lagged quite a bit behind us, but Spring has now arrived in North Dakota! It didn’t get above 50 today, and there’ll be frost in the morning (still too early to plant tomatoes!) but the trees are leafing out and the birds are singing. And I am glad.