And now a real story about walking the path of personal and spiritual development...
Is this how it's supposed to be? It can't be how it's supposed to be. Not after THAT. This inner dialogue is familiar these days. To say I've been both surprised and not surprised by how it's been to be back from retreat is an understatement.
It's been quiet over here in a very active, loud city. The Silence that I absorbed into in California has been following me around and asking me to spend more time with It. After having the most profound moment in my entire life as a spiritual practioner on a path for 16 years, I'm convinced it should be different than how it is. Certainly after seeing and feeling what I did, after truly knowing how much we are loved, all fear should be vanished right? Apparently not. At least not right now. My mind often has ideas about how things should go, and then there's the how things really go. Which is often different. Sound familiar?
I expected to come back to DC rearing and ready to go. Diving into my work like never before. But Silence has been asking me to sit back and Be. To sit in reflection. To feel the rawness of feelings rather than run away from them. Confusion. Sadness. Anxiousness. Uncertainty. To visit the shadow of my being in a new way.
It means I've been pretty missing in action from social media, minimally e-mailing, and not really engaging in Facebook like I normally do. A voice inside my head has been urging me to push forward over the last week. Schedule those social media posts for the week! Call these ten people back! Schedule this workshop! The to do list lingers in the corner. Affectionately and not so affectionately bidding for my attention.
I have been doing, but much more modestly lately. Life has been slower. Quieter. More thoughtful. More full as I experience the richness of this unexpected called pause and slow down.
Things never go as we expect. And it's all part of the process. What I've learned is to just trust it. Have complete faith in the process as it unfolds. No matter what. Like it or not.
When you think back about the most pivotal moments of your life, did they go like you expected they'd go? If they were anticipated, as in one day I'll......did they manifest in the way your mind previously day dreamed? It's likely they didn't. Maybe they were messier than you thought. Easier than you thought. More amazing and awesome than you expected. Or the swooping and sweeping corners you whooshed around were never even in your mind's calculation.
Here's what I know. What appears to be standing still, retreating, or moving forward, are all actually the same...momentum in a process. Just the latest unfolding of your very own miracle of a life. And as much as my mind tells me I'm meant to be somewhere else, I know that in each moment where I am, what I am experiencing, is absolutely perfect. Even if I don't enjoy it.
The last several months and this last retreat cracked me open to raw feelings, big questions, and reflective space. When I reflect on my life, the last times in my life that I experienced this sense of "standing still" and/or "retreating" was right before a huge breakthrough and life change. My most recent encounter with this feeling was right before I left my government job to pursue my dreams. Knowing this gives me evidence that the process is always leading somewhere I can't expect. And that my favorite surprises in life always come from the processes that I've distrusted most. Sometimes I've politely distrusted them. Nicely asking questions each morning on my meditation cushion. But since I'm a pretty feisty spirit, mainly I just fight and kick at different points along the way until I exhaust myself and then pause. And each time it always makes me laugh at the absurdity of how I thought it could be any other way than patience, trust, faith, and lots of listening.
In the midst of this current unfolding process I feel neither elated nor sad when I'm with it. I just know it feels right. Even when it gets uncomfortable. When I tell myself that the process should be going a different way, I feel anxious. Impatient. I want to kick and fight. And my mind is pretty sure I'm doomed to sink this ship to the ground, but I know better. I know that trusting always works. Not sometimes. But always. That when I trust enough. When I soften and open my heart enough. When I stop rejecting, the cloudiness becomes clear, the wondering becomes knowing, and the pausing becomes moving.
That's how it goes. Meeting Reality exactly as It is. Marrying the two sides of the coin of non-rejection and loving kindness. The most worthy internal work I know to birth lasting joy. Not the kind that fades after our tricks and tactics no longer work. But the kind that we build to last a lifetime.
Doing this work requires me to keep an eye on the big picture because sometimes it is elating and joyful. Sometimes it is gritty and heavy. But in the big picture I know it always leads me to clarity, freedom, and absolute alignment with my authenticity. Each time I am asked to embark into the next phase of my life process I know I am asked to be courageous enough to trust. I know that there are many moments along the way that I just won't know answers to questions. That the love letters I send out to the Universe may go unanswered...for a long time.
The moment we choose the path of trust, we rise above our shadow and into our full empowerment.
We rise above the fearful one inside that wants to take the wheel of the car and drive recklessly anywhere else than here. Or on safe terrain that is old, trodden, and familiar. And we choose to move into uncertainty. Into a new way of Being that we're called to. To be with fear and step right inside it so it no longer rules over us. And we make decisions to move beyond worry and doubt that if we just stood still long enough in our wallow, we'd figure it out.
For this week's Joy Tip Wednesday I'm asking you to join me in being brave to trust the process. Check it out:
- Notice if there are any areas in your life, big or small, where you are experiencing some resistance. Where you might be kicking and fighting. Shine some light on that and lovingly call it out.
- Get clear that you are in a process. Maybe even get excited. Discomfort in my life always leads to breakthroughs.
- Choose to trust. Yep. It's a choice. I know it's tough. But is kicking and fighting work for you? I didn't think so :)
- Really choose. Maybe you write an intention. Say a prayer. Whisper a message to the Universe. Lay in a savasana or some relaxing position on the floor and physically let go of all of your being to manifest in your body a letting go into the process.
- Keep trusting. There will be moments where you will absolutely not want to. Trust me. I know these well. Moments where I want to go back to the old road where I first started. But trying to manipulate things just makes it more painful. Keep mustering the courage to keep trusting.
- Look for evidence for how trust has served you in the past. Find a process, a turning point, an unfolding in your life, that you were absolutely uncertain where it was going that bore beautiful fruit. Keep turning your mind to the evidence of why being with discomfort is a worthy practice when you feel doubt.
This teaching recently shared by Anam Thubten seems pretty perfect in my life right now, "Suffering and pain can be a blessing in disguise. Without it, we won't grow inside...evolve." How does a caterpillar turn into a butterfly? It spins itself into a tight tight cocoon, and has to break free. What an amazing metaphor for us. The constriction of a process, the diligence to keep going, to get to the other side of light, transformation, the next phase in our life cycle.
Let us be the butterfly. Trust our cacoons. And keep going. Because we are meant to fly.