Updated: May 10, 2019
I was vacationing in Mexico, staying at a place famous for it's pristine, white sandy beaches. This year, there is a record amount of a type of seaweed called, sargassum, that is affecting Mexico and the Caribbean. As a result, the once pristine beach now has a large, dark stripe stretching across its shore.
Are your eyes tired? Here is this story in verbal form from my YouTube Channel.
Many of the hotels hired workers to remove the seaweed from the shore each day. It looked like backbreaking, thankless, hard work. From sun up to sun down the workers would pitchfork or rake the seaweed into wheelbarrows and wheel the seaweed to the road, onto trucks, that then take the seaweed away. For 10-12 hours a day, the workers tirelessly effort to remove the seaweed. Then, at night, we all go to sleep, we wake up, and the seaweed has returned.
Watching this each day, I couldn't help but think that all of this hard labor seemed like wasted effort. It was truly like the story of Sisyphus rolling the boulder up a hill for a lifetime. Perhaps the hotels could let go of the expectation that this beach needs to be pristine, that the seaweed is a scar upon its perfect shore. Instead we could all view the seaweed as a natural part of the rhythm of the earth, accepting that we really have no control over the seaweed, and adjust to the seaweed being present.
Are you hustling to remove your inner seaweed?
In many ways, we treat our negative emotions just like this seaweed on the white sandy beach. Everyone's seaweed is different. It might be a feeling of loneliness or sadness, guilt or shame, fear or anxiety, or agitation or anger. The seaweed represents any emotion that we want to remove, run away from, or hide from our otherwise pristine lives. We see this unwanted emotion as a scar down an otherwise happy life. Some of us do it consciously, others of us have no idea that the seaweed is even there.
Whether consciously or unconsciously, we often busy ourselves in an effort to get rid of or hide from our inner seaweed. Some of the highest achievers I know are often very sad and lonely deep down. From celebrities to soccer moms, we have become very good at being busy. Sometimes, the busy is just busy. Sometimes, the busy-ness is a distraction in order to mask something else. In those cases, we are just like the exhausted workers pitchforking the seaweed into wheelbarrows day after day.
Emotions are meant to be felt.
The solution for these negative feelings is exactly the same as it is for the hotel owners on the beach. If we shift our perception, and let go of the expectation that we need to be happy and joyful all the time, we could begin to see the negative emotion as just a natural part of life. We are human beings after all, blessed with a full spectrum of human emotions. Then, it becomes a practice of allowing. We start by noticing the seaweed -- the sadness or loneliness or shame. Then, we welcome it in. It may sound funny, but I often say hello to my feelings, "Oh, hello anger, I see you."
Then, instead of judging or solving, we just sit or be with the feeling. You could continue talking to the feeling. You could notice where you feel the feeling in the body. You could just sit and breathe without doing anything at all. When we practice in this way, the once too-tight feelings begin to loosen. They move in, and then they move through. Naturally, without effort. Some take longer than others. When they do finally release, we become freed up to create! We can use all of the time and energy that we would have been using to remove the seaweed to do something more fulfilling, creative, and fun.