Stop bullying. Stop drinking so much. Stop consuming sugar. Stop being a racist society. Stop using plastics. Stop the slave trade. Stop wasting time. Stop daydreaming. Stop longing for men who abuse you.
When we're told to stop doing something that we don't know how to stop, we feel like we're being hammered over the head with a blunt object. Nobody likes to feel this way.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the Law of Three. In fact, some day I'll write a book about how it shows up in everyday life. It's just so painful to be caught in the two-dimensional ping-pong game of efforting and giving up, efforting and giving up, and such a surprise when we understand how the third dimension relieves us.
For example, let's say you're scrolling through Facebook, and you come across this picture as I did today.
Sure, no argument that change is indeed needed, but for those seeing the picture in their feed, the most likely response is a negative emotion. Perhaps overwhelm or guilt that we're part of a system that consumes plastics, uses gas in our cars, fracks for oil, cuts down trees, and commits all kinds of environmentalist sins. There's also the guilt associated with the culture story showing up in this picture. Nothing wrong with being White or Aboriginal, but I only feel guilt when I see posts like these.
The problem is that nothing good usually happens out of guilt. If a redemptive action has to be squeezed out of someone, they may feel bitter and used afterwards. Getting people to "try and be less racist" has to involve helping people become aware of their breath and their internal reactions so they can travel with openness and curiosity through layer upon layer of unconscious baggage until they are in their essence and see the other's essence. Slapping on a behavior without a mindful approach just begets more baggage.
Today I'm writing the introduction to my Alchemy class that I'm putting together for this summer. Alchemy is the transformation that happens when three forces work together to create a higher level of consciousness. Two forces can pull a person back and forth for eternity and cause us to go insane (many of us do), but when we become mindful of the third force, there is genuine change, and it's a beautiful, powerful resolution to a song that's been playing in the minor key, often for decades, that involves coming home to ourselves by owning previously rejected parts of our lives, and having compassion on those parts of us that have been hurting.
What do I mean? Let's take over-eating for example. Often when we struggle with our weight, we go back and forth between eating and abstaining. It's always a question of should I eat now? Or should I abstain now? When the third option is presented, it looks like this:
"I feel like eating all of a sudden. Hmm. Let's check in with the body."
"Oh, here's something. I notice that my jugular veins are poppping out of my neck. Now what just happened two seconds ago that made me this stressed?
I know why! It's because I just saw someone wandering the halls, and I know she's supposed to be in class, but if I confront her, she'll just say she was going to the bathroom, and what can I say to that? It may not be true, but I can't prove it. I just know she was trying to get out of class because she doesn't want to be there."
And as I'm touching into my present reality-- what just happened, and what's happening right now-- suddenly my veins are back to the same size as they were before, and my craving has passed. I'm no longer holding my breath waiting for the incoming sugar hit- because I stayed with the sensation in the body, which led me closer to home (essence), the cycle of my breath stayed in flow, and I was able to enter into the next moment with presence.
Of course, I just ate a whole bunch of Triscuits tonight in one sitting, so it's not an overnight cure. But when stress causes a kneejerk reaction, the practice of mindfulness is the only effective way to really heal the entrenched behavior.