Did anyone ever say something to you that you found offensive? What did you do: walk away in a huff … talk back to him or her … “stand up” for yourself and then feel lousy later? Take the “high road” and feel crummy later? How about lying awake at night, rehearsing all of the better things you could have said … smarter things you should have said … or plotting the really good comebacks that you will lay on the offensive party next time you get the chance?
But have you ever simply let it go? Really let it go? Not just turn the other cheek yet seethe inside at the injustice of it all? Let us tell you how it happened for us:
In the late 90s, we were leading a series of winter retreats in Costa Rica. These particular seminars took place near the beach in Manuel Antonio on the Pacific side of the country. There we made the passing acquaintance of a couple, Rena and Sven. These two people radiated their judgmental nature and we felt uncomfortable just being around them.
One morning the two of us took a taxi to the beach. As we exited the cab we arranged with our driver to come back in an hour to pick us up. As we walked down to the ocean, we ran into Rena and Sven. By way of greeting, Rena said something very catty — not just the words, but also the unspoken subtext of the comment.
We bet you are familiar with loaded comments. Just think of a teenager, stomping to his or her room saying, “Fine!” or some such thing and flinging the door closed. In this case the word “fine” actually means anything but. Teens in particular are good at adding the eye rolling and they are great at dripping sarcasm from a single syllable. You get the idea.
It doesn’t really matter what Rena said that morning. We quickly ended the conversation and moved on down the beach. At first it was a bit of a challenge not to rehash the moment and reinforce the agitation that usually comes along with getting a verbal and energetic bump. Yet we purposefully disengaged from what had happened and got involved in what was happening: our walk. As we strolled along the shore, the sand sifting between our toes, we got engaged in what was in sight: the pelicans flying in formation, their wings practically skimming the waves, the sun, the surf, the birds, our conversation, OUR life. We simply invested in what was actually happening in that moment rather than resist Rena or Sven, and as we continued down the beach the upset fell away. In fact we forgot about the couple altogether.
This is a perfect example of the 3 Principles of Instantaneous Transformation in action:
1st Principle of Instantaneous Transformation – What you resist persists, grows stronger and in this case, accompanies you down the beach as it dominates your life and your current experience. If we had resisted Rena, disagreed with her comment, if we had taken exception to how she and Sven were being and chewed it over between us, then we would no longer have been on the beach. When you are in a fight in your thoughts, that’s where you are locked — in your thoughts.
2nd Principle of Instantaneous Transformation – That couple could only be exactly as they were, with their reality. Rena could only have commented as she did, and we could have only had a spontaneous visceral reaction and been taken aback.
3rd Principle of Instantaneous Transformation – Anything you allow to be exactly as it is completes itself. We just let them alone in our thoughts and the situation and our initial reaction just drifted away. But of course, as frequently happens when something of this nature occurs, life gives you the opportunity to see if you really have let the upset go – and if not, you get another chance to dissolve it! Soon our beach hour was almost up and it was time to meet our taxi and go back to work. But when we walked up to the road to the rendezvous spot, who should be standing there but Rena and Sven. We didn’t want to be rude, but we didn’t want to invite more conversation either. So we simply ambled up the sidewalk and put some distance between us. It was at this point something very sweet and special happened.
In Costa Rica there are many flowering trees. You can see entire hillsides populated with purple, orange, yellow or pink blossoms. Up at the curve of the road was a big old tree laden with pink flowers. Just as we approached, a gentle breeze ruffled our hair and combed through the tree’s branches. And suddenly the tree rained pink petals. We stood there in awe, awash in a soft pink rain.
It was as if the circumstances of our lives were guiding us forward so that we could be witness to such a magical moment. We weren’t walking away from them – we simply kept moving in concert with the wind, and the sun, and our lives. We were in sync. We were appropriate to ourselves and our hearts. When you are in the moment you are a part of the symphony of life and the music isn’t discordant, the melody is pure and simple. On that particular day the theme was a soft pink rain.