I notice a desire to be a little gentler with myself on The Path today. All this inner harshness and tendency toward self-destruction is wearing a bit thin. Although it is difficult to let go of old, ingrained habits there has to be a better, more loving way to be. For me, it helps to know I am not alone. That we are all in this together. That the more loving I am toward myself, especially during my less loveable moments, the more loving a place the world is as a result.
I very rarely watch the news. That said, the events of the world still have a way of finding their way into my field of awareness. Right now, I cannot help but feel the impact of the shooting down of flight MH17 and the rising violence in Gaza. (My husband and I met on a kibbutz just a mile from Gaza.)
One of my favourite kibbutz memories was the day a fellow volunteer and I were driven by our (Jewish) Israeli soldier friends to the beach. The route involved passing through a checkpoint into Gaza. I was slightly perturbed as even then (twenty years ago) tensions were high. The sound of gunfire and flash of bullets on the horizon were a regular occurrence. The beach, however, was idyllic. I remember the purest, white sand. Our soldier friend asked us if we wanted to go out with him and his (Palestinian) fisherman friend to lay some nets. The wooden boat was unusual in that there wasn't anywhere to sit. It was, in fact, flat-topped. And so, with the fishing nets piled high, we simply sat atop them and held on for dear life as we ventured out to sea (Hawaii 5-0-style) through the incoming waves. Eventually reaching crystal blue and calmer waters, I remember sitting back and taking in the utter beauty, peace, and irony of the situation. That was until the nets were released and began to unravel at a rate of knots beneath us. It still tickles me now to think of us scampering around trying to avoid being dragged in.
Since we are individuals that together form the group known as Humanity, as we release old patterns of pain and trauma we automatically contribute to the health and wellbeing of the Whole. As we take personal responsibility for our own evolution, Humanity thrives alongside us. Inner peace is world peace.
Right now Humanity is, it seems, experiencing one of its less loveable moments. It is tempting to judge and criticise, and yet we are not separate from it. Finger-pointing makes us feel better because it separates and distracts us from our own capacity to inflict pain and misery on our selves and others. (Just ask our children!) The truth is, we are all responsible. As shocking and outrageous as that may sound, in denying the part we play we also render ourselves powerless to change it.
The truth is, we have enormous capacity to make a difference. Not necessarily by going out into the world (though I am immensely appreciative of those that do feel that particular call to action). Peace starts within. We have tried waging war at both a national level and within ourselves. We have tried bullying. We have tried using force. We have tried criticism and judgement. Not only does it not work, it is exhausting on so many levels. It simply creates more of the same.
Now is the perfect time to try something new. We are ready, Humanity is ready, for change. No more conflict and separation. Our personal and humanitarian power lies in coming together. Being, as One. And so, as we radiate a little more love into the world...let's also show a little love toward the terrorist within.
…It's About Being Honest With Ourselves, And Each Other.
As I make my way along The Path today I notice what a nice idea it is to be our authentic selves…and how challenging it can be in everyday life. Especially when we realise being our authentic (whole) selves includes acknowledging both our lightness and our perceived darkness. That is, our deep, deep shame.
What comes to mind is an image of a wedding ring, the words union and merging, the colour yellow/gold and the phrase for better or worse. Hardly surprising perhaps, as I have only recently started wearing my wedding ring again having taken it off several months ago. It's a very chunky crown-like gold ring set with 5 diamond-shaped diamonds. I am very fortunate to have it, and yet for a while I felt irritated and weighed down by the heaviness of it. Being the queen of metaphor, I was well aware it was really about feeling discomfort and limitation within the marriage itself, though I wasn't clear whether it was about our relationship or the archaic concept of marriage. Or both.
I did, however, choose to wear my engagement ring as a reminder of my commitment to the process. To remain engaged despite the shame and discomfort I felt. My husband never mentioned my missing wedding ring despite proudly wearing his. Neither has he mentioned its reappearance on my finger so although on the surface it didn't appear to be an issue, it was an opportunity for me to let go of old, outdated expectations of what it is to be a wife and for us to re-write our own marriage script from hereon in.
Reviewing the life choices we have made thus far is common, particularly in our mid-years, and often leads to separation and divorce. It was a real possibility for us too. As we grow in awareness it can come as quite a shock as we somewhat sheepishly realise in our sleepy, un-awakened state we have made a number of lifestyle choices that we might not have made were we fully awake. A little like waking up in the middle of a nightmare not only to find out is it true but that we created it. Relational and marriage choices, health and lifestyle decisions, having children or not, career paths, it all comes under the spotlight for review. Some of it simply no longer fits, but surely we can't simply change our mind, change track, after all this time? And so, it takes great courage to allow our authentic selves to come into being when our path to joy impacts so many others.
(Having just called my husband to check that I wasn't misrepresenting his feelings about wearing his wedding ring he informed me he hasn't worn his for the past three weeks! Oh, the irony :-))
The Path today begins and ends at Home. Well, of course it always does, but right now it is so beautifully hot and sunny in my garden I realise there's no place I'd rather be. It's perfect. Even though finances are trickier than they have been in a long time I think I can afford to sit in the sunshine for a while.
It's a nice idea but I notice it is difficult for me to actually stop and relax. I may have taken my armchair outside but I'm still trying to concoct this blog. I'm not sure I can really class this as stopping so I put it down for a while. As I bask in the warmth I sense how guilty I feel doing nothing. I notice the pressure I put on myself to get it finished today. Usually the process is a pleasure but right now I sense I am just trying to be a good writer. I am on autopilot. Ticking all the (write!) boxes. It's no fun doing things just to be good and right. Before long my attention is drawn to the vibrancy of the flowers. I wander barefoot across the lawn to take some photos. Capturing the beauty…my idea of Heaven!
I see a bright yellow buttercup among some daisies and go in to take a shot. I pause for a moment and wait for the fly to finish its business and fly away. It doesn't. I wait. It's still there. I can't believe I'm poised, camera in hand, waiting for a fly to buzz off. I realise I can just shoo it away but to be honest what gives me the right? My pursuit of the perfect shot doesn't seem any more important than the fly doing its thing. It's there for quite a while. It doesn't seem to be in any hurry. Losing the will to live, I take the shot with the fly in situ and move on to the bright orange marigolds my father cultivated.
Fast forward 24 hours: I look up the word concoct. It suggests to rustle up. Hmmm, yesterday there certainly was a feeling of trying to put something together quickly so I could get on with the business of relaxing. No wonder I wasn't enjoying it - my heart wasn't in it. Choosing to consciously lead a life more pleasurable (and making a living doing it) can be tricky. Pleasing ourselves often brings up feelings of deep shame. It takes courage to truly let go and relax. Like orgasm, to experience the full pleasure we have to be willing to lose ourselves a little. A scary thought for many of us as we associate losing ourselves with losing our mind, our identity, our way (and for writers) the plot ;-). Stepping into a more pleasurable and freer existence can at times feel so ecstatic and un-boundaried it brings us face to face with the fear of our own madness. No wonder we often only toe-dip into pool of joy...and then return to make do with the more familiar.
…having just researched the term buttercup and daisy I've learned in it means crazy in Cockney rhyming slang.
Well, there you go! Bring it on ;-)
What difference would letting in a little more pleasure make to you today?
I begin The Path today feeling…well, open. Simple. Without fanfare. Just me, trusting life has a much better plan in store for me than I could ever envisage for myself.
Lately, I've noticed a recurring image in my mind of a barely visible golden thread laid out before me. It is evenly spaced with knots, and if I move gently enough I can pick it up and slowly make my way along it following each knot in turn. I cannot see where it is leading beyond the next but I am beaming because I just know each knot represents the most pleasurable choice in this moment. Although I do not see the details of what lies ahead, I feel in my heart it is taking me closer to where I belong. Home.
Back in 2012, having completed 3 1/2 years of training in Core Process Psychotherapy (being only a hundred client hours and a dissertation away from graduation) I made the excruciating decision not to pursue the Master's Degree for which I had sacrificed so much, having turned my own life and that of my family's inside out. Not to mention the financial cost. Up until this point, being a psychotherapist had been my dream and here I was, realising it. However, as the training came to an end I noticed a strange feeling of completeness. Like I already had everything I needed to go forward from here. As if I was free to choose the path of most joy. Writing. Even though in my heart I knew it was the right decision back then I wasn't so in touch with my heart and instead my mind became so racked with self-doubt, guilt and shame around the seemingly insane decision that I entered a six month period of breakdown.
Why do I bring this up now? Because. as we speak, many of my former colleagues are graduating and I notice at times like this I still have to consciously breathe my way through in order to keep my sense of ground around the choice I made. Sometimes I feel as if I don't have a lot to show for it, and indeed when we cease to measure our life in terms of qualification there can seem to be very little external evidence of "success". Internal growth can be more difficult to gauge.
I am eternally grateful for the training as is it where I found the faith to go my own way. It seems stepping off the expected path (graduation and practice) was simply me following the Golden Thread, only then I couldn't see it. I resisted it, and I suffered as a result. Ironically, the training helped me sense the freedom of being without ambition. Not needing to be any more than I am right now, not needing to be anywhere other than where I am right now. And yet, always open to experiencing more.
As all true Masters and Guru's know; the day their student realises they no longer need them their work is complete.
Trained in a depth, buddhist-based psychotherapy, using everyday outer world experiences to develop inner wisdom, one day at a time.