We all have ways of heading for safety. Some, healthy, some not so healthy.
But I have found throughout my life, that because people do not change (or even want to) at the same rate, those of us who are spiritual seekers are often left feeling criticized or alienated.
It’s all about the mirror. Growth doesn’t always beget growth. So if I grow, the mirror I hold up may be that someone else hasn’t and they may not want to see that reflection. But instead of viewing it clearly, a reaction can come at me which is hard and critical.
This is why we need our practices. This is why we need to find people we can trust who can genuinely hear us, see us, and be with us no matter how ugly we feel, no matter how beautiful we feel.
There are many people who have honed the skill of being nurturers. But it is our job to make ourselves feel safe no matter how deep or rough the waters.
When I began this blog, just about a week before, Desirée Rumbaugh had asked me what I was going to do if I couldn’t practice asana.
I knew that I was heading into unknown territory. Just days before bones being broken and reconstructed, and nearly half a year of not being able to walk, I did something which Ian Casey Douglas had asked if any woman could do. He wanted to know if a woman could do the following sequence: Sirsanana II, Kukkutasana, press up into Adho Mukha Vkrsasana in Padmasana and hold. I had tried it once or twice to understand his inquiry and once I was in kukkutasana I fully understood the challenge.
While I was with Desirée, and while I was facing the biggest life change which was about to approach, the deepest task of letting go of who I was, she spoke about “laghima,” or “lightness” and on that morning, I looked over at a woman who was so light in her skin and thought about Ian’s query. I decided to try the sequence.
I moved from one pose to the next with complete ease and pressed up into the handstand without any trace of effort. And then I just stayed there and reveled for a while. Knowing. Just knowing that would be it. At that point, I did not know I had two more surgeries ahead of me (nor three which were recommended). At that point, I did not know I would end up with a titanium plate in my neck. Could I try the sequence again? Sure. Would it be wise? No. Not at all.
There are some moments in life when we are asked to give up everything we know. And it is a tall order. One day I was with Desirée, practicing joyously and diligently, and just a few days later, my bones were being broken and repaired so that I could begin to heal something that had been broken long ago due to a very violent accident.
Today, I feel I am experiencing a very similar moment. Perhaps I am not alone.
I have been looking for a job for about a year. I am forty-five years old and I have let go of so much of my identity many times now.
What I have begun to see is that others look at me and they often see someone who is sad or unhappy. I reject that reflection.
What I know about myself is something truly magnificent and something which can only be learned through experience: I know how to navigate my own emotional terrain with great skill. I don’t need anyone to rescue me from my pain. I only need to walk through it. Because that is what I know how to do: carefully, skillfully, and without abandoning myself.
When my father left his body, nearly 20 years ago, I used to rub my solar plexus during the days and weeks after his passing, continually. And in every situation I was presented with, whether it was too loud or people were being insensitive, I chose to leave the environment in order to care well for my heart, whether it was for a few minutes or for the rest of the evening.
It’s amazing to me that I have to remind myself of this. But I must. Because the only person who can allow us to feel safe is us. We enter a space creating that for ourselves and we leave it nurturing it the same way (or we leave it unskillfully, at times).
I will NEVER forget those days I was with Desiree. Who would I be on the other side? I knew I would be forever changed. And still, that is the case. To let go of everything you know yourself to be is a very tall order. Others expect you to still be the same person.
Ram Dass explains that surrender is letting go of the resistance to what is.
We all have our comfortable socks. But shedding an old skin and stepping out of it, no matter if we know where we are going or not, to me, if far more compelling and inspiring than stepping into my old socks.
Maybe I just know how to “be with” the crappiness of not knowing. For who am I to say I have the answers? Did Nietzche have the answers? Kierkergaard? I was lucky enough to survive every single thing I have survived. From a near fatal accident at the age of six, which left me unconscious for many days, to 4 major surgeries in a period of 2 years, and 2 minor ones in the same amount of time. From being a top athlete to losing 20 pounds of muscle... from love to loss. Over and over and over and over. Just like so many of us. I do not have the answers.
Except to say that our greatest task is to “be with” what is. Not let others tell us who we are. But to listen. To listen so deeply that we know ourselves. To rub our solar plexus and leave a room if we must no matter the consequence.
To know how to find our feet so that we can re-enter, steady and safe even if we are no longer the same person who once entered long ago. But ready to enter because we are ready. Knowing who we are in this NOW moment. Fully aware that we can give from here.
Blessings upon entering your now.