I find myself saying (inwardly and outwardly) 'I can't do this' pretty often. 'I can't keep the house clean,' 'I can't make these kids get along,' 'I can't do everything on my list.' Recently I was feeling the 'I can't do it' feeling and sat with it. I noticed that there was something attached, an almost hidden 'but I should be able to' tacked on like a little monster that had sneaked into my mind.
When I noticed it, the unconscious shame that's always lurking came right out in the open. It felt horrible. I made some space for it and just felt it, recognizing the truth that there's so much that I can't do. I cried, feeling inadequate, angry, frustrated, sad, and maybe most of all, helpless. After that, I felt a bit better, more free and spacious.
Do you have little monsters lurking in your mind? Monsters that tell you how you should be, how your kids should be, how the world should be? For Halloween, maybe join me in bringing them into the open.
That's what I've been saying to myself since midweek, 'Yes, this.' Instead of the 'No, not this,' that I've been playing on repeat in my mind. Something broke through my resistance, and I remembered the incredible beauty of opening to the moment as it is.
Opening, saying an internal 'yes' instead of 'no' is like magic. 'Yes, I feel uncomfortable right now.' or 'Yes, the sink is full of dishes,' or 'Yes, people are really suffering.' I'm not saying 'Yes, I'm glad about it,' I'm just opening to the fact that it's real. And then, just when I let go of the agenda to feel peaceful, the peace rolls in and envelops me.
Want to join me? Try it, just what's real in your body and emotions right now, noticing your experience and opening to it. After we open there's space to make a wise choice about what to do, but without fully showing up with life as it is, wise choices are hard to make.
I feel impatient. Even as I recognize and shift newly-recognized but long-festering patterns in myself that contribute to the messes in my own life and the world, I am frustrated by my glacially slow movement. Like eroding layers of stone, each pattern that I see and shift in myself seems to reveal more ways that I am not only creating my own suffering but also contributing to the suffering of other people and the earth.
I am frustrated at home with what seems stuck. I am struggling with what is so clearly 'wrong' with the world. As I read the 'me, too' stories, I feel my heart break. I know these stories are a small part of what could be told, many more are too personal or cloaked in shame or denial.
This discomfort is what my my mom used to call growing pains. I am feeling the labor pains of birthing a New Earth. It's okay and it's hard. A walk in the cool air and crunchy fall leaves will help me to reset, along with that dark chocolate I just enjoyed as I sat with my pain, and yours, loving us and holding us and invoking the support of our Mother.
Image Mother Earth by Jenness Cortez Perlmutter
Do you respond to heavy times by getting heavy? I often do. It's easy to absorb energy from the world, from an unhappy child, and from a grumpy neighbor rather than to stay inwardly anchored. But it's just dangerous.
First, when we absorb heaviness from around us, it doesn't make the world around us any lighter! I think that is my unconscious motivation, 'I'll lighten the load by taking heaviness.' The outer heaviness hasn't shifted, though, it's just grown a bit bigger. Nobody wins!
Second, it takes us over. That 'stuff' we absorb takes root in us and darkens our mood, outlook, and way of being (unless we work with it intentionally). That means that instead of helping the yucky thing outside of us we've actually become it.
Finally, because it doesn't change the external energy and it shifts us to a more dense energy, we usually start to resent the initial problem. So it stays the same, we get worse, and we feel resentful.
Instead--do what lifts your heart and soul. Consider:
Music! This is so easy. Put on some music that makes you feel happy, light, joyful, and connected to Spirit.
Nature. Watch some clouds. Listen to the birds. Look at a flower. Sit on the ground. Spend a few dedicated moments attending to nature.
Be mindful. Make space to be aware of your feelings with loving presence. Pay attention to what you eat and drink, actually enjoying it. Notice your breath, feeling the in and outbreath for at least three breaths.
Gratitude. Think of three things that have happened in the past 24 hours that make you smile.
As you feel your mood and energy lift, keep going! Support that lighter, happier presence.
I don't know how to sit with what is going on in the world (the Las Vegas shooting, yes, and the people who are suffering in Puerto Rico and Mexico City and Florida and Texas, and the Royingya people and all refugees, and all who are worried about threats of nuclear war, and all that is heartless in our world) and be present with it today.
I can't take it in.
I tried to meditate, but can't really sit still.
I can't even feel anything right now, and that disgusts me.
Even though I want my heart to be open to the world, it isn't. Instead, I am sitting with my own numbness and allowing it to be what it is right now. That's a way that I can love this messy, flawed world, by sitting quietly with my own inadequacy and imperfection. By slowing down enough to be with myself as I actually am right now. By making space for this moment as it is, even though I want it to be different on so many levels.
I sat down to write this in case you, too, are struggling with your reactions to what is going on in our world today. Please, if you are finding it hard accept what is happening and how you are feeling, join me in turning toward yourself for a few minutes and holding your feelings (whatever they are) in loving presence. Sit with your anger, your fear, your heartbreak, whatever you feel. Even numbness responds to loving presence with time. Let's feel so that we can respond heartfully rather than react impulsively to the needs of humanity and the earth.
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.