At ease or dis-ease? Here’s the one thing that’s always happening when life feels tough.

Life moves through you. It powers you.   rocky river

Imagine a kaleidoscope sitting in a dark corner of a shelf. With no light moving through, it’s just a pile of plastic. Then someone picks it up, puts it to their eyes, and turns toward the window. Stuff! Shapes and colors are brought to life by the light pouring through.

Life energy moves through you like light moves through the kaleidoscope. It makes way for the human stuff of thoughts and feelings, stories and interpretations, and the sensations of being alive.

One energy powers all living things and brings forth every single experience you’ve ever had. Every experience you have is that energy, taken various, impermanent shapes and forms.

Life energy is not good or bad, it simply is. It’s alive and creative, but not good or bad.

Sometimes it feels as if it is moving smoothly and easily. You feel ease. You call yourself “in the flow” and say you’re “sailing through life”.

Other times it feels challenging and impeded. You resist it and argue with it. It feels like life is traveling uphill, hitting obstacles. It feels like it is moving against the current rather than in the flow.

Do you know what those perceived obstacles are made of? Do you know what it is that leads life to feel so obstructed and labored? You might not believe me if I tell you…

Ideas. Ideas!

Thoughts, identities, beliefs, concepts (they are all the same thing). Those perceived obstacles are fleeting thoughts masquerading as stable truth. They don’t look or feel like thoughts; they look and feel like facts and givens.

I hear them from people every day. They say them quickly and without emphasis because they look like facts…what is there to discuss? They are the “I can’t change jobs”, “My partner would never understand”, “That won’t work” thoughts. They are made-up opinions, but they sure don’t look like it.

The “It runs in my family”, “It’s always been this way”, “I’ve been diagnosed” thoughts that feel like scientific fact but are actually far more malleable than they appear.

It’s also the things that we don’t recognize at all. The lens through which we view the world, when we don’t realize we are looking through a lens. That lens is made of thoughts and ideas too.

They are innocent, neutral, wiggly thoughts to which you happen to be innocently clinging and holding in place. You cling because you think they are givens (and they look more and more like givens the longer you cling).

Those thoughts are like islands in your stream. They are boulders in your river. Life is still flowing, but the more you’re holding onto, the more stuff life will naturally have to bump up against.

See that? When you have a wide, open river with no boulders in the way, life flows freely and you get to tell your friends that it’s smooth sailing for you. And when you have a narrow river crowded with rocks and branches (thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and preferences), the creative energy of life naturally bumps up against those manmade thoughts, beliefs, opinions, and preferences and you feel as if life is out to get you.

Life has nothing to do with it. Circumstance has nothing to do with it. Thoughts and expectations are at cause.

Life gives you winter, but you prefer summer. If you believe that sun makes you happy and you call yourself as a “summer person”, there’s a lot in the way. It’s not life’s fault. Snow doesn’t make you suffer, your boulders do. Your ideas, opinions and beliefs that snow makes you miserable actually make you miserable.

It works this way with any circumstance in life. The more you need your relationship, your kids, your body, your bank account, your health, your career, your neighbors, pets, and parents to conform with your ideas, the more you’re going to suffer when life flows through.

Life bumping up against those thoughts is what we call dis-ease. Lack of ease. Stress. Disappointment, frustration, its-not-fair, suffering, anxiety, resentment.

But remember what those obstacles really are—thoughts. They are ideas that we’ve turned into a personal religion, that we worship and believe.

We think these ideas things keep us safe and happy but they actually do just the opposite.

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