This Is How It Is

Sometimes all we need is a few simple words to calm a moment. In the midst of the typical hectic life of balancing work, family, training programs, book events, and presentations, I took the time, as I do each morning, to stop, slow down and practice. Some mornings it is my meditative yoga practice, others it is a formal sitting meditation and then there are times I simply listen to a Dharma talk. The talk I chose to listen to was all about, no surprise, slowing down! Something we all could use, especially at this time of the year entering into summer. I find nature is the perfect invitation into this teaching. During the talk the teacher stated these simple words that stood out and resonated with me the most: This is how it is; It is like this.”

Simple yet profound what these words can do in a moment. If you are like most busy humans, you may notice that even when you do slow down your mind still wanders. It may still wander to what needs to be done, what’s next, and what is bothering you. Just because your body has slowed down it does not mean your mind will. If you haven’t already noticed, your mind has a mind of it’s own! Therefore, it is not enough to just take a break, a weekend off or a vacation. Because often we are still living somewhere else. Instead, we have to engage in the mind work of inviting and resting into a moment to really take in the slowing down, the break and the rest. When I heard the simple words of This is how it is; It is like this, I immediately felt an internal shift. My mind and nervous system released. Just through repeating these simple words I was able to let go of what was racing around in my mind, of what I was to do next, of what was distressing and instead be. It does not mean that all those things won’t be there afterwards. I’ll still need to return to the busy and the hectic as This Is How Life Is Right Now; It Is Like This! But somehow I am returning to it in a calmer, more centered, less reactive way. There is a shift within that allows me to go forward in a different way.

The practice below is from chapter 2 of my book. It’s called Finding and Feeling Containment. I am adapting it here, integrating these words into the practice.

Sit comfortably and touch your fingertips together so your hands make the shape of a diamond: thumbs touching thumbs, pointer fingers touching each other, and so on. Close your eyes and envision placing inside your hands anything in this moment that feels overwhelming. Say, “This is how it is; It is like this.” No matter what IT is. Keep repeating the words. Repeat this statement several times and notice what happens in your body, in your mind. See if you are able to feel a softening around it, a settling, a gentleness, a soothing.

I’d like you to see what it is like to practice this each time a difficult emotion, ruminating or worrisome thought comes your way to see what happens. From there, return to your life as IT is, but in a new way.

Read more at: Befriending Your Body: A Self-Compassionate Approach to Freeing Yourself From Disordered Eating, Shambhala Publications