Life is a beautiful rollercoaster, with lots of ups and downs.
Happiness, joy, anger, love, rage, peace. All these emotions make themselves known to us at some point. Sometimes, it can feel like we’re drowning in a multitude of contradictory emotions.
And it’s in these rollercoaster lows that we start feeling the strong urge to run away. First, we’ll think or say something like:
“How do I get rid of all this anger in me?”
“I’m tired of feeling sad.”
“I don’t want to be lonely anymore.”
“I hate being afraid.”
And then, we’ll book a “get-away” trip somewhere. Or we’ll go shopping. Maybe we’ll just sit in front of the TV for hours or refuse to get out bed and pull the covers over our heads.
But here’s the good news:
There’s a much better way to live through our lows.
Aside from meditation and mindfulness techniques, I also turn to what one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh, calls the practice of “non-discrimination”.
Non-discrimination means you gently cradle sadness in the same way you would happiness. You give the same attention to anger as you do peace.
In essence, you stop labeling one emotion “good” and the other “bad”. You open yourself up to living it all.
“The gardener does not chase flowers and try to run away from garbage. She accepts both and she takes good care of both. She is not attached to either nor does she reject either, because she sees that the nature of both is interbeing. She has made peace with the flower and the garbage.”
The Pocket, by Thich Nhat Hanh
So the next time you feel yourself experiencing the lows of life, simply take your hand to your heart and cradle whatever you are feeling. Try not to run away.
Just make peace with the sadness or anger or fear.
And pretty soon, you’ll be back at the top of the beautiful rollercoaster of life again.