Going inwards and feeling wrong…
For some weeks now, as the weather has been cooling into autumn, the leaves are changing and nature is going into dormancy, I find myself becoming more and more silent and withdrawn, going into an introspective hibernation mode, and feeling the need to do less and go deeper within to look at my motivations.
I ask myself, “Is this what I really want? What DO I really want?”
I’ve also been feeling more confused, criticized, wrong, and inadequate lately – and I know I’ve been responsible for most of that. After all, like most people, I enjoy being right!
My habit is to try to be different, better, faster, more successful… and in my impatience I want things to be different NOW!
I try to change my attitudes, fix and clarify things, correct mistakes, figure out problems and apply solutions, and generally improve myself and my life.
Time to remember my epiphany…
I had an epiphany in the kitchen about six years ago, when I suddenly realized that my attempt to rescue my student from experiencing her sadness was completely wrong; my attitude would essentially rob her of her freedom to be herself.
This epiphany changed my life, and the memory of it continues to teach me whenever I let it.
In that magical instant in my kitchen, something told me with crystal clarity that there was nothing to change or improve – before me was simply a whole and complete woman who needed a reminder that she was free to live and choose her own experience.
I felt quite a lot of compassion for her sadness, but my impulse to try to alter her experience and make her happier was not the most helpful response.
Instead, just as I was about to touch her in order to help improve her head-neck coordination, something from deep inside of me suddenly stopped my hands. Something told me, “No! She is free!”
In that instant, I understood that she was free to feel whatever she was feeling, and it was 100% OK. It wasn’t “wrong” or “bad”…and it wasn’t “good”, either…it was just the reality of her experience in that moment. Who was I to interfere by trying to alter her reality?
Instead, I needed to honor her and her experience exactly as she was. I needed to hold space for her, respecting her need to feel what she was feeling in the moment, even as I could see that her way of thinking was calling her to pull down. I needed to let her go down, and help her see that it was OK – that she wasn’t wrong for feeling sad. Above all, I understood that she needed time and space to fully be herself.
Thus was born the first of my “3 Magic Phrases”: “I am free.”
Soon after, as I pondered the enormous implications of that event, two more phrases became very important to me and my teaching:
“I don’t have to do anything right now,” and “I have time… and space.”
Just yesterday, it dawned on me that what I’ve been doing to myself lately is exactly what I was about to “do” to my student before I had my epiphany about freedom.
After all, I get sad sometimes just like my student, and I’m an expert at trying to change myself because I don’t feel “good enough”, or because I should feel “different” or be “better”.
I’m also very good at forgetting that trying to force myself out of the reality of my experience in any given moment is ultimately NOT going to get me what I really want – which is the freedom to be fully myself.
What I really want – for myself and for my students – is to:
- become more aware of – or awake to – what is actually being experienced, on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual.
- be fully (and I mean FULLY!) accepting of that reality in the moment. In this present moment of awareness, it truly is OK to feel the way we feel, no matter what. No matter how down, depressed, confused, frustrated, hopeless, or painful things feel – THIS IS THE TRUTH of our experience. This is Reality!
- realize that in fully accepting and embracing the Truth without reservation – for even a split second – we are miraculously transported into pure compassion and unconditional Love. Shedding light on the Truth of the moment (especially when it’s dark and depressing or scary!), without running away from it, trying to change it, fix it, deny it, hide it, pretend it’s something else, or make it shut up or go away – is utterly essential to being ourselves with love and compassion.
- BEING WITH what is Real within us and others is to cherish and listen to the Essence of who we are. It is to give voice to the soul and its deepest fears, loves, and longings. It is to revere Life in the fullness of its natural and spontaneous expression. Even if we don’t like it one bit!!
Minimizing or skipping that magical moment where we give ourselves the freedom to live our experience deprives us of the juicy nourishment that feeds and sustains us from the depths of our very own hearts.
This is True SELF-LOVE, and it can’t be rushed.
To simply BE with what IS – in both ourselves and our students – without doing anything about what seems wrong, gives us the time and space that is necessary to come into lively relationship with this Reality, with a liberating absence of judgment or criticism.
In this magical moment of FREEDOM, we are given a moment to acknowledge our common humanity, and from the depths, our natural reverence for the Divine suddenly has a chance to burst forth from dormant seed into flower, with new opportunity for our subsequent choices to bear ripe and healing fruits.
This magical moment of FREEDOM to be HUMAN is inescapable. This moment heals us and allows us to move forward into the next moment with more consciousness than before, and THEN we will be more motivated to choose to do what it takes to bring ourselves up into ever-expanding Ease.
This is how we can give ourselves and our students (or friends or lovers or children or parents or teachers or enemies….) the priceless gift of REAL, heart-to-heart communion beyond words.
Our first choice needs to be acceptance of our birthright as humans – the freedom that has been given us to be human as we are.
With the unconditional acceptance of the darkness of our humanity springs the Light of our Consciousness
and Life of the Divine.
That’s good news! Even better news is the fact that this unconditional acceptance happens in a flash as soon as we surrender to the Truth of the moment. We don’t have to be stuck, immobilized in the darkness one moment longer than we wish to!
As soon as we remember our freedom, we experience it. And as soon as we decide to go up, we can choose to change direction. As soon as we ask ourselves, “Where in me is there a little bit of Ease?” we begin to find it, and that Ease works to open us and lighten us up more and more, from the inside out.
The best way to prolong unpleasant feelings is to forget that all of our experiences belong to the natural human experience; and to try to change our reality by forcing it into something else before it can ripen into a deeper understanding of what it means to be fully human.
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