Boston traffic and jammed T stops: How to practice willingness

Often, when we don’t want something to be the way it is, we fight our way through it. We complain loudly, we tense up, we try to do it quickly in order to get it over with, or we avoid doing it all together.

Willingness is the idea of doing something with receptivity. Doing something willingly doesn’t really mean that we have to like it or want it. Doing something willingly is doing something because it needs to get done. I like to think of it like this: The universe requests us to do things that we just sometimes have to do. Sometimes those things include speaking up for ourselves, saying no and being willing to tolerate conflict, telling someone how deeply we care about them, or taking responsibility for something that we don’t want to take responsibility for.

There are many things that challenge our willingness to be willing on a daily basis! But this is how it works: When we stop fighting or avoiding our capacity to deal with life (on its own terms), life itself gets more tolerable. Seems paradoxical!  May not change it. May not be ideal. May even mean experiencing pain.

Inviting yourself to be willing involves relaxing your face, being gentle with yourself, quieting your breathing, and getting into a willing posture. Quit tensing your jaw and relax your shoulders. No glaring. No harsh words. It may even mean changing your tone of voice to invite compassion and kindness.

One great way to practice willingness is when you get stuck in bad traffic or when you get stuck on the T (the subway here in Boston).  Practicing willingness with the less important day-to-day life issues is one way to get you started on the path towards willingness. Imagine this as an opportunity to radically accept that the universe is throwing you a bone- and your task to survive it with the least amount of suffering possible.