Life is full of challenges. As the saying goes- the struggle is real. But, what does it mean to struggle against a challenge? The definition of the word struggle is, “to make forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction.” To understand why we struggle, we first need to figure out what the restraint or constriction is that we are struggling against.
When people say that the struggle is real, they are referring to the amount of effort that it takes to solve life’s various challenges. In many cases, the force that you struggle against is the apparent weight of your problems. Also known as ‘the burden of responsibility’ or the ‘weight of the world,’ this is the omnipresent force that bears down upon you whenever the going gets tough. The more difficulties you face in this lifetime, the heavier your burden feels. Things can get so heavy that it feels like a fifty-pound sack of flour is sitting on your chest at all times, constricting your ability to breathe and move around freely.
To stop all this unnecessary struggling, you simply need to realize the imaginary nature of this oppressive weight that you've been carrying around. Your so called ‘problems’ exist solely inside your imagination. Your problems aren’t actually physical things; they exist only as thought forms inside your mind. I'm not saying you don't have ‘real’ problems, I'm saying that your problems are simply a collection of thoughts and feelings that you have about a particular set of circumstances. Since thoughts and feelings technically have no mass, it’s fair to say that your problems are, in fact, weightless.
If your problems are weightless, then there is no reason to tense up in difficult times because there is actually nothing to brace yourself against. When there is no longer a force that is restricting or constraining you, then you are free! The struggle is over. After releasing this imaginary weight, you will still need to solve whatever problem you are facing, but now at least you can be calm and grounded while you figure things out.
Next time you catch yourself struggling against the pressure, remain present and conscious. Instead of tensing up to brace against the weight, breathe and let it go. Rather than pulling your energy inwards towards your spine, practice radiating your energy outwards from your center. Constriction is a natural reaction when things go wrong, but being constricted doesn't help solve the problem faster- it just makes things more difficult. Letting go of the weight won’t stop bad things from happening- life will continue to present you with challenges to overcome. But, by releasing this imaginary internal pressure, it will be easier to remain calm and focused in the face of adversity.
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being.