Ease is defined as the absence of difficulty or effort. To ease is also defined as to make something less serious or severe, soften, and to move carefully and gradually.
Living with ease is different from being relaxed. Specifically, relaxation has more to do with lessening our feelings of tension and reducing stress. Ease has more to do with an inner sense of peace and harmony.
Living with ease starts by loosening our grip on the roots of our suffering. It involves letting go of rigid views and opinions of how life should or should not be unfolding. Likewise, it can also involve letting go of impulsive behaviors that continue to repeat and unhelpful patterns of thought and behavior that arise as we struggle to maintain or impose our expectations on the world around us.
In Buddhism, living with ease is seen in the concept of viraga, which has been translated as “detachment.” In this sense, detachment refers to a distancing from cravings and desires, which is understood as a path to greater freedom and ease. It is also a detachment from thoughts as the driving force behind our experience and interpretation of the world around us.
We can see similar concepts in modern western psychology. For example, approaches such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) refer to a similar process using terms such as participant observation, de-centering, and cognitive diffusion, all of which involve efforts to change awareness and reactions to thoughts and interpretations with the goal of more adaptive reactions.
Stepping outside of our experiences to observe or detaching from the impact of thoughts, opinions, expectations, and cravings can lead to reduced distress or greater ease.
What does “living with ease” mean to you?
Notice the small moments of ease that appear throughout your day. What do you notice from focusing on ease in your life? What steps can you take to get there more often? If you have an idea of how ease develops in your life, practice bringing more ease into your life in the coming days and weeks.
Practices for living with ease
Meet all of your feelings with balance and curiosity.
Let go of winning and losing.
Connect with the feeling of joy in your heart, even amongst the chaos.
Practice mindfulness throughout your day.
Monitor the nature of your thoughts.
Reflect upon impermanence.
Make time for leisure and enjoyment.
Practice self-compassion rather than self-criticism.
Let go of judgements and practice compassion towards others.
Be flexible with your expectations.
Appropriately assert boundaries and politely say no when it is appropriate.
Pay attention to your body.
Be aware of early warning signs of stress and act in advance to take care of yourself.
Over the next few days and weeks, when worry or stress begins to arise in your life, just notice. Noticing is powerful and can start to shift the pattern of stress and welcome more ease into your life. Notice times when you feel strongly attached to an idea or outcome as well as times when you feel driven or compelled toward certain goals or behaviors. Pause and practice being curious about the ways your attachments to outcomes and ideas impact your stress and consider loosening the grip to make more room for ease in your life.
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
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