The Beauty of Frustration

Jenny Liz Rome, Artist

Frustration is a state of being full of fusion.  It is convoluted into itself, because it arises within ourselves.  Frustration is like a pressure cooker that builds bubbles of aversion.  It simmers under pressure.

There are several dictionary definitions for frustration:

1. “the thwarting of impulses or actions that prevents individuals from obtaining something they have been led to expect based on past experience”  APA Dictionary of Psychology

2.  “the feeling of being annoyed, disappointed, or less confident because you cannot achieve what you want”  Cambridge Dictionary

To find the word frustration in the Thesaurus offers a variety of synonymous feelings:  anger, annoyance, irritation, fury, rage, resentment, temperamental, impatient, and irritable, to name a few.

Why write about frustration or anger or annoyance?  

Because in a meditation practice, it is one of the exercises we do while meditating:  to bring attention to our thoughts and emotions as they course through us, so we can notice when they arrive, how they present themselves, becoming momentarily curious about them, and then just letting them be, letting them go, by bringing our primary focus back to the breath, breathing in, and breathing out.

So much of our day is filled with all the stories we carry around in our head.  They might be from years ago or a present day emotion that grips our hearts.  The thing is this: all of our thoughts and emotions can fill all of our days and nights, so that each and every moment, of living this one day and sleeping through this one night, gets lost and overlooked.  We often never arrive to experience a new day and we miss the present moment.

Reliving scenarios, reimagining what could’ve been, believing things will work out or someone else will help us, retelling the story over and over in our head causes immense traffic jams in the flow of each of our shared and individual lives.  Often we miss the main event:  today.

We miss the sunrise, the sunset, the scent of water, and the touch of a breeze.

I love meditation.  It saved my life as I was consumed by grief and trauma in different moments in my life.  I didn’t know what to do with everything and everyone that was overwhelming me.  I often felt helpless and like an overstretched rubber band, and I wondered:  now what?

I practice Mindfulness and Zen Meditation and it has given me back my moment by moment, daily life—the everyday ordinary daily life, full of new practices, perceptions and possibilities.

To sit each day with my breath, with my thoughts and emotions swirling around me, like a crowded chatty neighbourhood in my head, or a tornado of weather patterns enveloping me, allows me to take time to see things for what they are….just time-stamped thoughts, just evolving emotions, just swirling stories, that will pass through time and change in the reality of impermanence.  By sitting in meditation, I can help them clear out, by heading to the “gym of my mind” and practice meditation.

So many people head to the physical gym for physical wellbeing and that is essential for a healthy human body and life on Earth.  Fewer people are willing to make the same commitment to just sitting for ten, twenty, thirty minutes a day….to notice what’s happening inside of our minds and hearts, willing to do a little house cleaning, house clearing, window cleaning, in order to see the brilliant bright blue sky of awareness all around us.

The world is not created out of our thoughts and emotions, those are the weather patterns.  Life has its own origin and presence and energy.  And in the right setting can help us to consciously understand and love this life inside of us and all around us.  But equal in measure, is the willingness to also hold open a new space inside of ourselves that welcomes this quiet and at the same time welcomes a larger awareness that life is so much more than just each one of us….it is a universe of living, breathing mysteries and energies and silence, within which we all exist.

To be willing to sit in this living energy, this realm of infinity, this living wisdom called life and awaken to it, is not for individual gain, or expression of opinions, but it a place cultivated to be present to it, to each other, to each of our strivings and struggles, to be kind and compassionate and loving and not self-centred or angry, greedy or frustrated.  

All of us bear this true nature of existence, this essence of life and substance of love, living wisdom, peace, light and beauty inside of us.  Each of us has a personal expression that is born and arises out of this eternal essence of expressionless, yet living life that gives rise to our diverse human being-ness.  We are all part of this same family of life.  And it is to this next part, that I am devoted and that is to also honour that we share this uni-verse, this moment by moment life, this air we breathe and this water we drink.  By devoting our life to life, we all can also birth, tend, nurture, uphold and live this life together.

The preciousness of our birth, each one of us, is to enter into a larger mystery of living individually and together here on Earth.  Some people choose personality, some people choose religion or spirituality, some people choose science and mathematics, art, music, etc. to make sense of this birth and life and to offer our gifts.  The reality is we are free to do that….find our way to learn about ourselves, offer our gifts, and help each other.  Life is given, shared, universal, cosmological, and I feel committed to the whole landscape.  

I have two parts currently in my life that I want to focus on, commit to, make a vow to and offer as a contribution to the whole.  One is to practice mindfulness and zen meditation with others with the intention to be present, learn, share and help end world suffering.  The second commitment I have is to hold open the the noble heart’s space and place, inwardly and outwardly, out of its true nature for beauty and peace, love, light and living wisdom to be born over and over again, in every moment, upon and within this Earth, around and within each one of us.

Back to the beauty of frustration.  Within every emotion, there is a wave, a rising and a falling.  It is there to capture our attention.  The beauty of any emotion is that it is in motion.  We can notice, we can feel, we can have curiosity about it, and then we can let it go back into its own motion.  Whether we have pressure-cooker thoughts or tidal waves of emotions, they are there to notice and then let go. Most of all, we are asked to keep breathing, keep living— by practicing becoming more aware through meditation and more kind and compassionate by holding open the space where the true nature of the heart’s healing can be born over and over again.

The beauty of frustration is patience.  It is practice.  It is the willingness to live and breathe in each moment, holding one’s heart open for love and peace and friendship to radiate, illuminate and unfold.

Sophie Griotto, Artist


Written by Jillian RoseMary LaBelle Sophie xo

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