16 February 2016
If you live the questions, life will move you into the answers. ~Deepak Chopra
Often when I feel discouraged or weary, I’m resenting the way the world is. And asking it to tend to me in a way that really only I can.
Joseph Campbell has referred to the big needs most of us experience at times as ‘god-sized holes’. He’s alluding to the times and places where we need something bigger than we can comprehend to help us carry on and get through. The times and places where we need to connect to our god-sized whole.
That’s not always easy for me. Despite my devotional practices, I still have plenty of dark and lonely places. Some days I need something simple, something reassuring I can touch right now.
This week has been like that. I’ve felt worn by things I cannot change. Pressed in on by a series of small things and not-so-small things. Weighed down by specific personal hurts and clouds of what I think of as universal grief.
In an article in this month’s Oprah, Martha Beck discusses how some behaviors that resist our best efforts to change can be providing a ‘secondary gain’. She makes a case for the power of three actions: Rest, Kindness, Freedom.
My takeaway from the article was thinking about how these three very accessible routes could help me accept and even embrace those days when worry or pain has become overbearing.
It’s exactly at these times, when the world feels Too Big, that I am most in need of the ability to soothe and comfort myself. When my relationships, my work, the physical trappings of life are running along smoothly, I can jog alongside and be up. It’s when cogs jam, when the current shorts out, when the pain doesn’t seem to have an end in sight, that I can suddenly be gaping down into that big hole, fearful and anxious.
Rest. As in going to bed 15 or 30 minutes early. Rest, as in drawing in a few breaths that relax my belly, lift my shoulders and clarify my mind. Rest, as in flipping the pain over to focus on the other side of the coin, the enduring shimmer of caring.
Kindness. As in using a gentle, encouraging voice with myself. Kindness, as in listening to my needs.
Freedom. As in releasing my two-fisted grip on worry to let my senses open to the feel of the air right now, the scent of the daphne blooming in the yard right now, the beauty of the sky right now. Freedom, as in accepting there are things I cannot change. Freedom, as in giving myself over to gratitude for that shimmer of caring.
For decades, I thought tough times meant I was doing life all wrong. I was embarrassed to confess difficulties because they seemed like types of failure. And, I thought, how in the midst of this amazing life could I have times that feel so difficult, so unbearably hard? Maturity, friendship, the honesty and wisdom of women like Brené Brown and Martha Beck, have helped me understand and appreciate the nature of life. That it is ups and downs. Joy and despair.
If we know joy, we will know pain as well. They are inextricably part of the same fabric, part of being connected, a natural part of human life.
And it is all of it all at once. Amidst the darkness, we find and light candles. In the night, the stars are beacons of hope and guidance.
With a little rest, I’m able to look around and notice that the miracle of life is everywhere. The miracle is not the exception. The miracle is the commonplace.
With a little kindness, I’m able to reach out and make this moment a bit better.
With a little freedom, I’m able to let my mind expand into a bigger perspective.
Small steps will find their way.