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Mindful : February 2015
to get walked over, or invite situations of abuse or neglect. In these kinds of circumsta nce, we may need skillful action to remove us from danger. But not all situations are transformed with action. And even if doing something can influence what happens next, sometimes the only thing we can do to shift our experience is to cha nge our way of relating to it. When we wall off what we don’t want to face, it drains our energy and obscures our view of reality. In letting our defenses drop, we release ourselves from struggling with the parts of life we don’t like. They seem to call for attention anyway, even as we block them out. A s the old saying goes, what we resist, persists. Whether it presents in the form of depression, chronic pain, fatigue, anger, or rumina- tion, turning gently towards difficulty is a transfor- mative shift that dissolves barriers to effective living. Perhaps this is why there are so many mythical tales of the rejected becoming majestic—the ugly ducklings that grow into beautiful swans, or frogs that turn into princes when kissed. Somehow we know the seeds of beauty exist in the unwanted, difficult, a nd painful things in life, and that we can release their potential by greeting them with love. This is not easy. It goes against all the condition- ing, all the impulses, all the logic that tells us: “Get me away from this feeling, this thought, this unpleasant experience.” It ca n bring up all our resistance, doubt, and anxiety, and we may be tempted to try to fight or deny these, too. When we feel the cold, da rk night upon us, the last thing we want is to rest in the open. But ultimately we’ve nothing to lose—we’re exposing ourselves only to what ’s here any way. With the light and wa rmth of awareness, we offer our attitude as fuel for transformation. When we practice this wholehea rtedly, courageously, repeat- edly, compassionately, over time we may find that even when our frogs don’t turn into princes, we might nevertheless lea rn to love the frog. → Saying “yes” to the present moment When we bring mindfulness practice to our lives, once we’ve developed a foundation of attention and awareness, there’s a further step we can take. We can develop our approach mentality, even when things are difficult. Whatever it brings, we can train ourselves to say “yes” to the present moment, welcoming it in with open hearts. We can move towards experience, even when it feels frightening or painful. This can sound a little crazy. Who on earth would welcome in pain, fear, angry thoughts, frustration, bad habits, or cravings? Let’s be clear: Approach- ing the difficult doesn’t mean putting your head in a crocodile’s mouth, or running in f ront of a bus. These are the kinds of situations the fight or flight mechanism is well desig ned for, and we ca n gladly follow its warnings. We also don’t have to go looking for difficulties— life presents enough without our having to seek them out. It doesn’t mean we should allow ourselves Let’s be clear: Approaching the difficult doesn’t mean putting your head in a crocodile’s mouth, or running in front of a bus. 36 mindful February 2015 resilience