I struggle. I struggle every day. Everyone struggles. It may be momentary or last the whole day. Life is struggle. Is this bad? Not necessarily. What does this mean? We struggle with our thoughts, our feelings, our hopes and dreams, our spouse, our kids, our jobs, our goals, our finances, our friends. Everything. This is life. How do we define struggle? Merriam-Webster says struggle means “to make strenuous or violent efforts in the face of difficulties or opposition” or as a noun, struggle is “an act of strongly motivated striving.” Ah. Striving in the face of difficulty. What if we give up the striving part? Does the opposition melt away? I think it does. Striving is your own creation. This is really the heart of mindfulness. When you are able to release striving, what is left is the moment where you are. This was a real epiphany to me. My mantra truly used to be, “Life is a struggle.” It still rolls off my tongue occasionally out of long-term habit. But really what I realized at some point through reading about and practicing mindfulness meditation is that life is just now—this moment. It is not yesterday or tomorrow, just now. It isn't even your thoughts or feelings or sensations. The struggle somehow evaporates in this realization. Now I’m not saying this is easy. There is continual work involved in maintaining this. This is a process of which I remind myself constantly. Nevertheless, I know it, and it is not something I always knew. I learned it through experiencing mindfulness. Anyone can learn it. It just takes practice.
We have a new puppy. He is lovely and sweet and rambunctious and a little demon. The experience puts me in mind of when my son was a baby and toddler. There is the constant supervision and use of the word “no”. There are the nighttime and early morning disruptions for pottying and feeding. There is the jealous older sibling—a cat in this case. There are the unbelievable bursts of frenetic energy followed by sudden collapse and exhausted napping. And then there are the peaceful moments of rest, especially in the early morning. After his breakfast at 6 AM, the puppy wants to cuddle on my lap. It vaguely reminds me of those early morning feedings with my son when it was just us in the darkness. A special bonding or oneness took place. The experience was truly the height of living in the present moment. At those times you are with your child and can be nowhere else. Busy-brained as you might be, there is only one thing you can be doing—holding and feeding your child. I know a puppy is not quite on that level, but it has been almost 12 years since my son was born. I get an inkling of the same feeling sitting in my pajamas on the floor before sunup with the puppy contentedly sprawled on my lap. I’ll take my moments of
mindfulness where I can get them.
Dr. Heather's musings about medicine, mindfulness and life.
Heather Krantz, M.D.
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Bend, OR 97708 Bend, OR 97702
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