Mindfulness. Equanimity. Being With What Is. Being with what is – is IN. It sounds so cool, being heart centered. The words are so beautifully pumped full of light and vitality. Except when we’re smack dab in the middle of whatever shit-storm the “what is” is about. Sifting through the half-truths, the misbeliefs, the shouldas’, the supposta’s and the if I’d only’s becomes twice the daunting task as battling ‘he who shall not be named.’
It’s a hard choice being with ‘what is’ in life…whatever that is. Why do we think by asking for inner peace or serenity, a beam of bright light will deliver it to us? That it will unfold gently from the sky, wrapping itself around us, making us immune to failure or heartbreak? We seem to forget how we watch our steps more closely after, and because of a stumble or a fall not before.
I remember making the choice to be the person I thought I could be. I began by debunking the lies told to me ‘about me’ by others, about how I should be in this world. It took me years of navel gazing and self-effacement but I began waking up to myself.
In waking, I felt alive. Everything within me was attuning to higher vibrations. I began living in my skin, realizing my life as it occurred. Me! The one who had to learn how to speak loud enough so others would hear me. Me, the woman who was afraid to take her clothes off with the lights on. I started giving myself credit – seeing my beauty. Little by little I was no longer doing, I was being – Me. I didn’t feel that I was perfect. I felt that I was Me.
Finally, I had a positive connection with the Universe!
I had just arrived at a place of total acceptance of myself, only to have each step become more difficult and (treacherous immobilizing or paralyzing) than the hard earned steps I took before. Devastating events can do that. Like an earthquake or a tornado, events will quickly change the landscape of anyone’s life. Obliterating everything good and loving – steady and real. It doesn’t matter whether a major accident, a debilitating illness or something tragic happening to someone we love.
When we lose our footing, we lose ourselves. We lose how we see … the Me in us. Loss is loss is loss. For me, I thought I had really broken through any self-hatred. In a flash, the connection to all of my inner wisdom seemed gone.
It was strange. It happened too suddenly. The belief that I was an eternal screw-up entered me, the moment the police knocked on my door. I thought I had done my work for growth. I thought I had learned to trust my intuition, that I was worthy of trust, until self-doubt returned stronger than ever. I believed I was spiritually connected, and I wasn’t. Not really. That voice inside that blamed me for every bad thing that happened was happily (consider viciously) mouthing off again.
If you were sad – it was my fault. I would apologize to a wall if I ran into it. I blamed me for your bad moods, the weather, everything. I didn’t think of myself much; I just didn’t think much of myself.
I could talk about my arrest. I just couldn’t talk about what was arrested in me. Want to know what kind of spiritually devoted person is arrested for working in tantric temple? Me. That’s who. Want to know which spiritually devoted person locks up their soul and throws away the key? Yoo-hoo, over here! I didn’t think I was guilty. I thought I was stupid. I was mad at myself for not feeling guilty. I wasn’t ashamed. I was ashamed I had to tell my family. I was mad at myself for the stupidity my family had to see in me.
Holding on to a belief about self consumes a lot of energy. It doesn’t matter whether it is true or not or even if it is downright painful. Unloving beliefs hold us down. They block us from compassion toward our own human nature. The anger I held against myself -blocked out any empathy, any compassion – any form of loving kindness my friends and loved ones offered in support of me. I didn’t know how to stop being angry with me.
I hoped again and again that something would unlock me, as it once had years ago. So I asked for more. I asked for more compassion, more forgiveness, more guidance. I asked for more for myself. Hey, wait-a-minute, wasn’t this how I got myself into such a mess before? “Trying to be all spiritual?” Not knowing any other way that worked for me I started in again.
Weeks slid into months, months turning into years, nothing broke the chains I had put on. In a moment of meditation, an eternal moment, I remembered. I recalled with my mind’s eye the moment I first decided to open my heart.
I saw me standing just outside a circle of people. I was tired of trying and ready to begin being. I heard my voice say, “I will keep my heart open no matter what.” Closing my eyes, I jumped. I jumped off the curb and into the street. While it may have only been symbolic, it felt more as if I jumped into the Grand Canyon of my soul. Remembering my soul’s memory, I felt how frightened I had been. How uncertain. Even more, I was still willing. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Didn’t matter. I was once again in the moment, willing, with my heart exposed.
With the knock at the door, I forgot all. I forgot that just because I encountered hard times in the past, does not mean I will never have hard times again. I forgot that lessons are continual. I realized my faith in me was much lower than my faith in Faith. I had forgotten that faith in itself and faith in Self – do not have to be great. They just have to be. Fortified only with that memory, I recalled how capable I am. How I can always take me anywhere. I am reminded how valuable, precious and simple being in the moment with what is is.
Being with ‘what is’ is accepting the moment ‘as it is’ and wanting the moment just as it is again, and again, and again. Simple to consider, hard to do.
Oh, no big deal you say? Remember – we’re not doing anything in this moment of ‘what’ is. So give this a shot: try to sit. No, don’t sit down. Try to sit down. Hanging your butt in midair isn’t the same thing. Not so easy, is it? If I’m thinking about the moment, I’m not in the moment. If I think I know how to be in the moment, I’m not in the moment – I’m thinking about how. Anytime I forget this, I am being with the ‘thinking of what is’, the ‘thinking of what is should be’, not whatever ‘what is’ – is.
Trying to explain this concept is as slippery. It is as slippery explaining as it is to understand it. It is as easy to dismiss as a parlor trick, rather than the answer to peace of mind.
Elusive doesn’t mean hidden – it means difficult to find or to achieve. It is hard to find, but because the act of seeking it most often is what stand in our way. Trying to look for it prevents our finding it. Trying to keep it prevents us from having it. Yet, you are ready for it, if you are tired of trying.
Every day, I see little more of me as whole, capable, and willing to be open to love. I can feel my laugh again. I am no longer ashamed of my tears. When I become angry, I let myself be angry. Gradually, the anger is arriving less often, and departs more quickly. I tap into my recovered reservoir of compassion and apply it liberally.
Some days I still feel particularly small. I will never get back to that place, that peaceful soul I once was. When holding the memory starts to become a longing, I ask the Universe to help a sista out. To give me patience with myself while I fit into the person I am becoming. I close my eyes. I take a deep breath, and I walk the corridors of my heart. I take pleasure in the renovations I see and in knowing they are under my supervision. I am expansive inside. I am energized. I have the assurance Connection brings.
But the next time I jump, I’m taking a parachute.
Metaphors are a wonderful thing, ain’t they?