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Stressed Young Woman Deep in Thought
Thu, January 1, 2015
I Struggle, Therefore I Am: Lessons in Embracing Ease
Do you remember the last time you suddenly became aware of a bad habit you have, one that you hadn't noticed before? Something you were doing all the time and you didn't even realize it? Maybe you look away every time someone compliments you, or you hold your breath when you're nervous, or you get really angry at other drivers on the road?
It's funny how many things we do that we're totally unconscious of, and when we become aware of them how pervasive they seem... how did we not notice something so obvious?
One bad habit I've become aware of lately is that I struggle a lot.
Some friends pointed this out.
Really? I do? News to me.
After they mentioned it, like magic, my subconscious started revealing a whole set of ways in which I struggle on a daily basis. I began to see how I fight with all kinds of things instead of working with them. 
I could see how I deny compliments, stop breathing when doing something difficult, get defensive when people tell me I'm doing something wrong, clench my jaw in judgement when I don't like something, etc, etc, etc.
It was like a huge light turned on and I could suddenly see that I was surrounded by struggle.
There was a lot of it. I began to see that fighting defined most of my days. This was a huge revelation.
Then came the big question: now that I've noticed all this struggle, what the heck do I do about it?
I could give up and decide that I'm a failure, or that this is life and there's nothing I can do about it... that I struggle, and therefore I am.
I've done that a lot. Turns out, that's part of the struggle.
Giving up is just the other side of the coin. Heads you fight, tails you run. In either case, I'm not working with life.
So, this time I decided not to fight or give up. I decided to work with what was happening and see if I could gently change the pattern. I began to ask myself, how can I play with struggle and shift the habit bit by bit? Gracefully. Easily.
I started watching the pattern as it was happening to see if I could find anything simple that I could do. I wanted to find something small to change that would be easy to do.
Eventually, I noticed that every time I was getting nervous, scared, or angry I was also collapsing my body. I was literally making myself smaller by curling my shoulders in.

Eureka! I found it!

How to Go From Struggle to Ease

I started playing with my shoulders, opening them up a bit whenever I noticed I was struggling. Sometimes I'd only move one shoulder, sometimes both, and when I got really lucky I'd find myself naturally taking a deep breath and my whole chest would expand. These simple shifts break the pattern as it's happening.
It's amazing. Life is actually getting easier.
After several months of this, I wish I could say that I don't struggle any more. Alas, that isn't so. What I can say is that when I find myself fighting or giving up, I can play with my shoulders and the pattern shifts; the struggle lessens, the fight dies down and these days I often stop struggling altogether. What a relief!
My friends have commented on it. “I don't know what you're doing,” one of them said, “but keep doing it!”
So, if you're contemplating putting a bit more ease into your life, look at your patterns, your bad habits, any time you're fighting with life, and see how you can play with it. Find something small to shift. The key is to find something simple and easy and stick to it long enough to make a change.
You'll find that a small change leads to big results over time.

Elena writes about her discoveries on The Joy Lab at, and is the creator of the, a series of meditations that you can learn while brushing your teeth!

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