Life kind of just throws stuff at you at times. A broken-down car on this side of the highway, losing a job, disrupted plans, bad news, and on and on. It sometimes seems like the worst part is how it throws off your rhythm. As if life has a kind of meter. But these disruptive things come out of nowhere and the tempo is lost for a time as we throw ourselves into getting them back out of our lives. Whether that’s getting quickly back on the road, finding a new job, changing plans, planning your recovery, or whatever it is.
What if we thought of it totally differently? There’s a kind of eastern idea, used in martial arts among other things, that if the breath stays constant, the body can handle nearly anything. It’s the maintaining of the rhythm that improves balance, strength, and even overcoming pain. If something happens that would break the rhythm, the constant and deliberate breath pattern is able to trump the disturbance. People use this in pain management and for women in labor, too. Who hasn’t been told “deep breath!” before a shot, a bandage removal, or when pushing through a moment weakness?
On a spiritual level, when something pops into life we can face the adversity combatively—it brings to mind the image of a batter at the plate, swinging at an incoming fastball. The way the batter meets the force of the ball with the force of the bat lets out a loud crack! and the energy sends the ball some distance. It also disrupts the path of the bat, and usually registers as a sudden impact in the hands and arms of the batter. What’s more, there is a limitation to how far the ball goes.
Conversely, instead of facing adversity combatively, we can face it receptively. Think of the Apollo 13 mission (or the Tom Hanks movie, either one works) and how a space craft and crew were able to take their crippled ship all the way back to Earth based solely on the slingshot effect they got from the moon’s gravity. That ship, like adversity, flew at that moon with everything it had left, dramatically faster and larger than a 90 mile an hour fastball. But the moon… it just kept on going as ever it had, unchanged in its nature and constancy. And the power generated from that constant rhythm was sufficient to send the ship the full distance back to Earth.
So we can spend our lives swatting adversity away, hurting our hands and never finding our stride, or we can receive adversity as a part of life, keep on moving, and fling it away when it reaches the point where we can let it go.
And then let it go.
Think back on the last time you faced adversity, big or small. How did it disrupt your life? How could you have responded differently to avoid some of that disruption?