There is a feeling of travelling light as I begin The Path today, despite a persistent urge to overeat. A tendency that surfaces whenever I am trying to launch something new in my life. Instead of launching, I lunch! My old way of sub-consciously anchoring myself whenever I start to move into a more joyful and expansive way of being. Like a balloon afraid to float off, despite that being its natural inclination. In this sense, the heaviness of overeating certainly serves its purpose, keeping me firmly on the ground! In both a physical and emotionally heavy sense, that is, weighed down by my own guilt and shame :-|
Until recently I have always assumed, especially when all is going well for me, that things are bound to take a dip eventually. Maybe even crash! The words It'll all end in tears! ringing in my ears. Basically, what goes up must come down, particularly when it comes to joy. But what if that isn't the absolute truth? What if its a relative truth? Relative to our old, less expanded view of ourselves and the world? What if the importance we place on gravity (a.k.a. seriousness) is an outdated belief system? Not the whole picture. What if being human is really all about being Light? It's certainly what physicists are discovering at a quantum level!
As I continue to walk I notice the urge to take my hands out of my pockets even though it's quite chilly today. And yet when I do, I discover it's not as cold or uncomfortable as I expected. Hmmm, don't make assumptions I remind myself. Try it and see for yourself. I can always pop them back in if it is cold and uncomfortable. Strikes me as a lesson in life! I have a sense that with my hands out of my pockets I am able to feel the warmth on the outside, the comfort (my shoulders are more relaxed now), in fact, I am simply able to feel more. I realise just how sensitive the hands really are. No wonder there is an urge to tuck them away sometimes. Right now my arms feel light. Free to fly, almost.
In truth, having consistently felt an underlying sense of ease and flow over the last couple of months (unusual for me) I wonder if this more permanently lighter state is becoming my new norm? I don't seem to be so afraid of my lightness now (that is, my fear of being judged as wishy-washy, and not to be taken too seriously). I notice I am starting to value my own lightness regardless of what others may think. Perhaps, it is ok to Lift Off! What if, like the balloon, the natural movement of life is to allow ourselves to lift higher and higher? The lesson: to stop weighing ourselves down out of fear? I know when I deny this natural self-expansion in myself I start to physically expand instead.
It seems travelling light is not simply a choice it's what we are! Light...travelling.
Well, I realise support comes in all sorts of guises on The Path but I have to admit I doubled-back on myself to check the You can do it, we can help message on this Benson & Hedges cigarette packet!
It's true. I am feeling incredibly supported today. Having dared yesterday to express that I was ready to walk the walk with others, I am joined by my first fellow traveller today. What a difference. What a joy. There is a feeling of expansion. Delight. This, I would say, is the universe and I moving swiftly into alignment!
I have a message of my own: Thank you, universe, thank you, friend, for showing up, time and time again.
If you want to be moved, be still
Ooh, it's good to be back. Not that I've been far - simply enjoying being home. It's raining today yet, despite the dull grey sky, colours seem more vibrant than usual. The puddles are clear and the piles of autumn leaves are bright. Wearing wellies and a full set of very light waterproof clothing I'm feeling ready. Even my camera case comes with its own cagoule attached!
Today I remember my original intention on The Path, that is, to experience the benefits of walking in nature, in silent meditation. The clean air, the sense of connection, the insights, and the exercise. Nothing required of me except one foot gently in front of the other, and a little light awareness. Eventually, a question comes to mind. How on earth can I really expect to convey the utter beauty of the silent encounter in written form when words and language seem so limiting compared to the real, live experience? Suddenly I am struck by the realisation that what I intend to offer the reader is, well, essentially,...nothing.
As I continue to walk, it becomes increasingly difficult to deny what I have known for a while now. This walking experience would make so much more sense in the flesh. I want to be accompanying people through the woods on their own silent journeys. My idea of heaven! And yet, I notice apprehension around creating this dream of mine; walking alongside, requiring nothing, sharing the experience, perhaps sharing an insight or two afterwards. It strikes me it would require a deep sense of ground and connection, to be at peace earning a living without offering a physical product or necessarily visible results. Do I have the courage? I wonder. Could providing an opportunity to experience 'nothingness' really be enough? Can I get out of my own way long enough to take a leap of faith?
As I wander I am reminded of a time during my final year of psychotherapy training. I had reached a point of deep despair. It was something to do with ambition and the agony of trying to bring something into fruition. For a month or so, I just collapsed. Emotionally, more than physically, though that too. I could feel myself shaking to my core. Like all my beliefs were being rocked at once. At that point I did something I had never done before. I surrendered. With full awareness. I surrendered and I watched what unfolded. To my surprise, as I experienced myself at 'rock bottom', I noticed how quiet and calm it is down here. Dark. Lonely. And yet surprisingly restful. Letting go of all ambition turned out to be quite a relief. Hopelessness, a care-free experience. Is this what I've been afraid of all along? The reason I've been hanging on so tightly? While down here, I wondered if I would ever move forward again. I was in no hurry. As I continued to allow myself to rest in this aimless space something strange eventually happened. Being so still, with no intention of moving myself, I had a distinct sense of being moved. It was a little disconcerting at first. Was I being controlled? Taken over? What was this strange feeling? I realised it was a sense of flow, naturally guiding me forward. A physical experience of connection. Hey, this is pretty cool, I thought. I don't really have to do anything but relax and be carried. This experience taught me a valuable lesson: if you want to be moved, be still. Perhaps I am ready :-))
It's great that I even have the opportunity to walk The Path today - being in the midst of the school holidays. Nothing particularly pertinent is standing out for me, and that feels ok. I notice am I am simply glad to be here. Walking the walk. The small things I do notice seem to reinforce this feeling that I am ok right where I am.
The disposable coffee cup and lid with a heart-shaped leaf on it remind me that it is ok that I am allowing myself to take a break from writing during this half-term break.
As I notice the sunlight that is seemingly creeping more deeply into the darker part of the wood than ever before, I am reminded it is also ok to shine a light on the darker aspects of me. It's ALL here. The Dark and the Light.
My shadow even makes it into the picture :-))
I notice a curious feeling that I already have enough. Despite being unable to make a yoga class this morning...I am feeing pretty flexible. Not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually too. Despite school holidays quashing any ideas of personal space I am breathing and relaxing in my own body. Even though I have so much to say and so much to share I notice today I am happy to take my time, happy to be quiet. Today, despite my past history of food compulsion, I notice I don't have to eat chocolate to feel sweet inside, nor drink champagne to feel, or allow, my own bubbly-ness to come forth.
As I wander through a sun-dappled archway of vibrant yellow and green-coloured trees and bushes I have a feeling of walking down the aisle. There is a feeling of union, oneness, coming together. Yes, today, all is well.
The Art Of Being Human
In reality all is well in my life as I begin The Path today, and yet I notice I am feeling really bad inside. It’s very peculiar. Yes, there are some old challenges making a reappearance (just to give me another opportunity to see whether I have truly moved through and beyond them!) but nothing too troublesome. And yet, I notice a deep desire to do a U-turn, go home, and collapse. I really don't want to keep walking the walk today. Not wanting to go forward - resisting the urge to go back - I choose to stay with the discomfort. I wander a little deeper into the woods and find a bended tree trunk on which to pause for a while.
I notice thoughts around how much lighter the walk seemed before I put pressure on myself to make something more solid out of it, that is, sharing my insights and photographs and writing a book about them. Feeling vague, light-headed, and a little dizzy I notice a sickening sense of doubt as to whether I really have anything to offer. I sit with the feeling in my stomach and my throat despite the strongest urge to get up and go home.
My attention is drawn toward a yellow leaf with two black dots that seem like eyes. It looks ghostly, like a mask. The words pretense, and something not being real spring to mind and I notice that is how I'm feeling about my writing right now. Is it just an illusion? There is a sense of despair as I consider all that I have given up (let go of) to be here. To be free to do my thing. And yet I am still struggling. Just as I am about to fall into a downward spiral of self-criticism I recognise this old treadmill of suffering on to which I am about to step for what it is. This thing I do whenever I am in the process of wanting to launch something new in my life. I get to this point...and then Bam! Self-doubt kicks in and I start to question whether its really what I want or whether it is of any value. Whether it’s worth it.
Having worn my new ski jacket (a coat of many colours!) for the first time today, I realise I am feeling a little self-conscious. It is more vibrant in real life than it had appeared online. As I come out of the woods I also notice some agitation that the sun is too bright (I know!). It’s blinding me. I feel really angry. A hot sensation makes it way up my back as if something is getting my back up. The words How dare I! and Who do I think I am! rattle indignantly around my head. I notice that as usual, just as everything is easing up and becoming lighter in my life, I am hit with a life-quashing feeling of WHAT'S THE POINT!
I realise this is my struggle to relax around who I am and where I am, at the same time as allowing myself to become more. To Be and Become - the art of being human! I can feel the rage to be. The rage to launch. The rage to shine. Rage, that I am being stopped...by my own self-doubt and fears. Before I know it I am at the top of the hill looking down. Breathing a lot easier now. The rage has passed. Phew! From this vantage point I recognise the value of pausing to sit on that tree trunk and allowing myself to feel the discomfort. There is some relief around completing a cycle on both a physical and emotional level: walking onward around the path as well through my fears. I appreciate that had I not done this I would have most likely found myself in a very familiar place of stuck-ness. Lacking motivation. Depressed. As I near the end of the walk, it seems the wisdom of the path (Life) cannot be manufactured, or simply gleaned from a place of safety; each individual journey must be walked through and personally experienced. This, I realise, is what I have to offer.
Something new has hatched
Seeing this empty eggshell on The Path today I am aware of something new having hatched, not only in my life but, in life itself. For as long as I can remember I have felt excited about being 44 years of age, certain that it was going to be a good year. My year. (Actually my very favourite number is 4444 but I'm not sure I'll make that age!) Now I'm here, now I've arrived at 44 it is dawning on me that perhaps it isn't just about my age and me but This Age, and Us. As if my age were just a marker for me. A post-it note to self, as it were, that THIS IS WHEN THE BIG THING IS HAPPENING.
My life has taken a complete shift away from the path I thought I was on, which resulted in a period of deep personal crisis that lasted from December 2012 until May of this year. Eventually I realised the deep suffering I was experiencing was resistance to following my gut instinct and my heart. On reflection, as torturous as it was at the time, it was an opportunity to release a lot of old debilitating habits and patterns of mine. To start afresh. Lighter, and less burdened.
I see the planet and humanity as a whole going through this same major shift in consciousness. A time when the power of Humanity coming together on a global scale, acting as one, is outshining our old polarised way of being on this Earth such as thoughts, beliefs and judgments around; us and them, good and bad, rich and poor, dark and light, right and wrong, and so on. Yes, there is currently a lot of disruption, fear and pain on the planet but, in truth, it is our old way of being (at both a personal and a collective level) that is collapsing in order to make way for a new way of being. An agonising process perhaps, yet vital to our evolution into a better way of being for all.
On the walk today I notice a carpet of green grass forming on the brown ploughed field as it awaits re-sowing and I realise you can't stop the natural movement towards growth, neither nature's nor our own. We can try...and wear ourselves out in the process (just like my own resistance to moving away from the known, and into the Unknown), but change always comes. What is new and as yet unknown, whether at a personal or global level, may well stir up fear, confusion, panic, and doubt but learning to ride these natural evolutionary waves of change (preferably with long, deep breaths) gives us all the opportunity to experience a more joyful co-existence on this planet.
This moment will be gone soon enough
I felt an urge to blog today even though I haven't walked The Path, not physically anyway. And I guess this is my point. Regularly walking in nature is beneficial on so many levels but the truth is every aspect of our lives is a mirror. Nature, to me, is simply my favourite way. Yet each moment, each situation, every encounter reflects back to us what is really going on at our core. Each time we notice this, we also have an opportunity to return to our natural state of being - joy. In these moments there is nothing to be done. Simple, gentle awareness is enough. If we can let go of the reigns for even a moment, change happens effortlessly.
I awoke this morning with a sense of being crushed. I wasn't sure how I was going to fit everything in today. Well, I could fit in everyone else's 'stuff' but I couldn't see how I would have time for my own. I really didn't feel up to the 'school routine' (it can be emotionally exhausting at times). And, the guilt around my lack of motherly enthusiasm made me feel even worse. Ok I said to myself, breathe slowly and deeply and just be with it all. In that moment, I dropped it all. I relaxed. Before getting out of bed I vowed to myself that if nothing else today, I will slow down enough to notice.
Realising I've been a little off track this week with regards to the things that keep me grounded such as, fresh air, walking, and good, clean, vibrant food I made myself the first green juice in quite a while. It tasted so good. Sweet. I remembered how my body tingles as if it is literally coming to life when I eat or drink food such as this. After a while however, I noticed myself drift back into guilt-mode as I gazed into the kitchen. I must wash out the juicer before I forget and...blah, blah, blah. Noticing this I brought my focus back to the children sitting across the table. No, I urged myself quietly, just enjoy being with them a little longer. This moment will be gone soon enough.
Sitting there I noticed (as untimely as it seemed) I really fancied a bath - using the fragrant bath bombs the family had bought me as birthday gift. There was only twenty-five minutes until we were due to leave...but all I needed was ten! The moment with the children having passed, I followed my joy and popped upstairs to run the water. Five minutes later I was happily soaking up a beautifully scented and orange tinted bath experience. My son (aged 12) opened the door a little and offered to walk my daughter (aged 10) to school. I was so touched. Its ok I said. I'll be out in time. No really, he said, I don't mind. My daughter appeared, in agreement. Ok, we'll see then, I said. As it was, I didn't need more than ten minutes to feel revived, and I wanted to do the walk. Outside the rain, however, was torrential. How about I drive you both today? I offered. Only if you want to he shrugged, and smiled. As I drove back home aware of the depth of MUTUAL CONSIDERATION that had taken place I felt as if I was still bathing - in the love between us. What a turn around!
Not mush'room in here
This morning on The Path I am feeling quite squeezed, and for the past day or two have felt a subtle, underlying queasiness. Tomorrow happens to be not only the anniversary of my own birth but the day I went into labour with my daughter. Since the cells of the body 'remember' every experience, including everything we do not consciously recall (the most poignant often being the (typically traumatic) birth process) I tend to find myself in somewhat of a double-whammy birth experience around this time. And just like the innuendo's that seep into my language in the presence of sexual energy (see 27/9/13 blog), when it comes to birth energy I notice feelings and language around life, death, and survival. For example, I notice the urge to write about this today in case I don't make it tomorrow...as I may be too busy celebrating, of course :-))
So giving space to, and honouring, my birth process I am taking the pressure off. I am not even lifting the camera to take any pictures as I already have the perfect one, taken at the weekend. I've been dying for an excuse to use it! :-))
Softer steps, deeper breaths
As I begin walking The Path today there is a feeling of change in the air. Not to come, but a feeling of being right in the midst of it. Everything looks the same, yet feels different. Its slightly unnerving despite trusting deep down that all is well.
Having treated myself to a snazzy new camera I notice a slightly flat feeling as I don't yet have the knowledge or experience to make the most of all the exciting new features. I know, I protest as I hear the words, All in good time.
I also notice that I am pre-occupied with taking vibrant pictures and yet the light (or lack of it) seems to dictate that today everything naturally has a softer hue. I notice the pressure I can sometimes put upon myself to be vibrant. I realise I could stop doing that. I could relax with how I am right now. A little deflated. Despite having a lot on my to-do list at the moment I could (as the ball on the path reminds me) allow myself to depress somewhat. Let it all go. That way, I might just find the energy and the joy to carry on doing the things that really do need to be done.
As we evolve on our path the journey within can be tiring at times and perhaps, just like my camera with all its unexplored capabilities, it can take a while for us to appreciate our full potential. So, instead of racing ever onward I think today I'll just take softer steps and deeper breaths.
The softest pillow
Feeling highly activated as I begin The Path today. The rain is torrential. Seems like an age since it has rained with this much intensity. Since water tends to represent the emotions, it seems ironic that I have felt a deep need to cry for the last few days and yet I have been unable to.
As I trudge defiantly up the hill through the fast-flowing streams of water something comes to mind about wanting to be able to stay on my own path - and how challenging that can be when what I want and need seems to be at odds with the wants and needs of loved ones. Whispered seductively, the word SURRENDER comes to mind. I feel agitated, irritated and resistant. Surrender to what, exactly? To what I want or to what they want? TO WHAT IS comes the reply. Oh dear! Well, what is, I admit, is anger.
Hunched and walking quite hurriedly I try to minimise the impact of the rain (and my anger) but it is seeping in everywhere. Even through my 'waterproof' clothing. There is nowhere to shelter to make notes. Not even in the woods. No escape. ACCEPT IT. YOU'RE GRIEVING. BIG TORRENTIAL TEARS. But about what? I wonder.
I notice my left thumb feels peculiar, like it doesn't have full range of movement. I see the body as giving me a literal moment-by-moment update on the state of my inner being, with the thumbs representing my experience of ok-ness in the world (as in giving the thumbs up). Since the left side of my body represents my feminine aspect and the the right my masculine, I take it that this is about feeling restricted in relation to the feminine aspect of my being. I certainly seem to be struggling with my own expectations of being a wife and mother right now.
So, I take a deep breath. Be with what is. Be with what is. Be with what is I say to myself. I notice my posture naturally become straighter, more aligned. Instantaneously, the rain eases off to almost non-existent, even though I am on the most exposed part of the path (and my journey as I put myself 'out there"). I am speechless. The actual path hasn't been that tough today, just interesting. It does, however, seem to represent the ongoing challenge in everyday life to simply be myself.
Further along, I realise letting go of guilt, shame and blame isn't a one-time deal, it is an ongoing process. Albeit, one that appears to get easier and swifter over time. I am reminded of a poem I wrote a couple of years ago.
Searching, searching, all my life
To find a place to rest
The nature of impermanence
Revealed the futile quest
Then one day laid still enough
I noticed every death
Just like the softest pillow
At the end of each out-breath
As I near the end of my walk, two fluffy white dogs that I passed moments before run back to me excitedly. I can hear their owner shout Rosy! Rosy! Rosy!
I shall take that as a sign of what really Is. :-))
Trained in a depth, buddhist-based psychotherapy, using everyday outer world experiences to develop inner wisdom, one day at a time.