I’m writing this from an out-of-state airport where I am now 6 hours into a flight delay after I led a satisfying but intense full day workshop yesterday. I am now past the first few hours of using the time constructively for work catch-up, past reading the news, past the peanut M&Ms. I just feel trapped, frustrated and blocked.
These lines I read yesterday came to me:
“We can learn from George Leonard’s teachings on mastery, where he used an apt phrase to convey a principle from aikido: “Take the hit as a gift.” It means that when your sparring partner hits you, he gives you energy, energy you can use in several ways. First, the hit can awaken you, so you can relate to it as a teacher. Second, in the dance of the martial art, the movement to hit you will to some degree unbalance your opponent, which can give you an opportunity and advantage. Third, even if they land a solid blow, it will stimulate your life energy, your ch’i, so the hit is itself a source of energy. The new energy stimulated by the hit is often at first inflamed and reactive. The hit is intended to force you to react, and when reactive you are weakened. You really have to stay present (which usually means, breathe and feel and notice) in order for the hit to become a conscious experience. It is important to get in touch with the totality of the hit, including how it hurts, how you are reacting, even how it may have injured you—or others, or values you care about. But when you find your way entirely into the present moment, you discover that the hit has activated your whole being. It has awakened you, and it is a source of energy.”
― from “A New Republic of the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries–A Guide to Inner Work for Holistic Change”
We spend a lot of time bracing for the hit, dodging the hit, denying the hit – or even rationalizing the hit, don’t we?
I kept telling myself that at least everybody here was in it together, waiting for the weather to change. Then, just after my fourth flight delay was announced, the airline announced it was boarding people to my same destination who were booked on another flight and are not being delayed at all! Allegedly my flight will be taking off “within only another hour…after the plane refuels 300 miles away and gets back again.”
I am less than thrilled with this policy – which I can do absolutely nothing about.
The best use I can make of this moment is to “take the hit as a gift.” What might this look like?
This is another lesson in “accepting what I cannot change” of course. I could expend energy planning to protest this policy to the airline. Not the best use of my time and energy, I think.
There’s also (always) the opportunity for learning through self-reflection. Only after my third trip to the vending machine – which I definitely wanted to be my last – did I let myself “find my way into the present moment” and fully feel what stress/comfort eating (once again) has to tell me. When this behavior starts to take hold, I need to consciously focus on how else I can take care of myself and where my fullest sense of self-empowerment lies. I need to ask: What is the spiritual practice in this situation?
For me this had three parts:
First, I had to pause for breathing/meditation to do an inner reset.
Second, I had to stop adding the burden of “using the time productively to work” to the stress and fatigue of the delay.
Finally, I asked myself what I will need to make up for lost recovery time. After I made some rearrangement in tomorrow’s schedule for more breathing room, I could feel some relief.
I had to let myself feel the hit first to let it activate me and feel the energy awaken, so I could respond in a way I could feel good about..
You might as well “take the hit.” It’s happening anyway. What gifts does it have to offer?
With You on the Path,