I did a radical thing yesterday; I cancelled my cable television and Tivo service. I needed to do something to dramatically shake up the entrenched viewing habits I’d acquired while writing a book these past six months.
If you know me, you probably heard that I’ve been purposely living a pretty cave-like existence in order to meet a publisher’s strict deadline. I worked long hours, over many months, refraining from much socializing and consciously limiting distractions. I got into a work routine that typically allowed relaxing only late at night with just a few friends: primarily Oprah, the Channel 7 news teams, and the wildly entertaining cast of Dancing With The Stars. Thanks to Tivo, I was never at the mercy of prime-time television schedules, but I’d begun to forget what real, interactive fun feels like. I got lonely at times, but I also realized I can be quite solitary and be just fine…for a while.
Like most things in life, timing is always perfect, though not always comfortable. Thankfully, the book is terrific (as you’ll find out when you read it) and it will be heading toward the publisher’s office in just a few days. I’m almost feeling free again and can’t wait to get out of my apartment and spend time relaxing with real live people! My constantly hovering cats and I really got to know each other too well, if you can imagine what I mean!
I’ve come to the end of one adventure and the beginning of a whole new phase — right along with a brand new year. 2014 was a year of intense change and transformation for many of us. There’s so much global change going on now. We know that transformation is not necessarily easy or comfortable. It’s human to try to escape at times; most of us also try to fully experience the “what is” of the moment as best we can. But for many of us, we’re in a constant state of low-level resistance and denial of the unpleasant aspects of what’s going on. We’re really not experiencing the “what is” very much at all and much more like unconscious resistance “machines.”
When an experience or phase of life is completed, can you feel satisfied with the ending of what was and fully let it go? Or do you resist endings too? Many of us struggle with that. Do you hang on to the past, re-living it in your mind or secretly hoping for a different outcome? All of these mental acrobatics prevent us humans from simply being with “what is.” If we just let go of our resistance to reality, we can much more comfortably embrace the exciting unknown of what is now. When we stop resisting, we’re in the flow, which is a natural state of joy, lightness, and inner freedom.
I’m finding that as I’m going through transformational experiences, it’s helpful to consciously intend to open to change. Change can feel downright scary. Releasing habits, friendships, jobs, or old ways of being can cause ripples of fear and resistance to change. The only solution is to face our fear head-on. That fear lives deep within each of us, among many other buried emotions, though they’re all often held unconsciously.
If you look within, you’ll see feelings such as fear, anger, sadness, and frustration living in your body as muscular tightness and pain, shallow breathing, inner conflict, headaches, stomach aches, fatigue, judgment, depression, apathy, or the desire to distract or numb oneself with substances or activities (just as I did with television watching for a while.) All of the things we do may temporarily help us cope with the uncomfortable feelings….until they just don’t work anymore. We can run from fully experiencing our feelings, but we can’t hide forever.
The question is, can we consciously and courageously let buried feelings express and move through us? Yes! When we feel our feelings fully, they energetically move, lift, and leave us light and unburdened. With the release of energy blockages due to stuffed feelings, comes clarity. We come to see that change is the absolute, fundamental nature of all life and ultimately, resistance is not only futile, but quite destructive to health and happiness.
Experiencing the emotions brought on by change can free us. We can observe our life and choose a new direction when we’re ready (or at least a little willing) to let go of what was. We can experience fear and move through it. We are not our fear.
Who are we then? After or during a period of intense change, it pays to stop and just entertain that question for a while. It’s good to pause, and allow the essential you to breathe in the stillness; to let go of resistance and thus allow life to flow through you. Don’t try to force an answer or slap on a pretty bow. Just be with what’s there. Become aware of resistance. You might find that layers of unpleasant feelings have been stuffed down, needing to be experienced and released.
We don’t need a big “dark night of the soul” to feel the fear of not being sure of who we are anymore, where we’re going, or what our purpose is, – unsettled feelings are so often lurking just below the surface of consciousness in times of heightened change, even good change. We can just hang out with our evolving beingness (as in meditation) and we’ll experience all the “gook”we try hard not to see. Looking inward, breathing deeply, experiencing what’s there and relaxing into it … that’s all we need do to keep ourselves flowing.
It’s natural to possibly feel frightened and perhaps overwhelmed at times with the vulnerability of the undefined, unpredictable, and basically empty/full nature of the Self. That vulnerability is probably why the mind resists feeling so much. That’s why our egos have us trying so hard to be perfect and to feel in control. That’s a good reason to meditate or get some coaching, healing, or help – to move through the machinations of the fearful, controlling, distorting mind that prevents inner peace.
I was in an uneasy place these past few weeks, as the writing of the book was winding down. Like a baby in the womb, the book had grown within my care, and then suddenly passed through me, fully birthed, and leaving this body to the essential stillness that was there all along. I evidently felt an unconscious loss and tried to avoid feeling that for a while….I’m human. But running from feelings never works (how well I know that!) and I asked my Divine for help when I became aware that something was off kilter.
Besides the guidance to shut down t.v., I was Divinely reminded of a beautiful poem by Mary Oliver that movingly speaks to letting go, to self-acceptance, to knowing our natural connection to all life – and to allowing life to live through us, as it always does. The poem is called “Wild Geese” and begins like this:
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
You might want to “google” the whole poem; I find it a gentle, healing experience to read it. Like much beloved art, poetry speaks to my heart, reminding me of what I already know. I love that phrase she uses, “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” It’s a gorgeous message to simply allow your primal, instinctual and authentic Self to just shine. It knows what to do. It knows what it loves and needs. It connects you to all life; it allows life to live through you. There’s nothing to figure out with the mind. In fact, we can’t figure out this mysterious thing called life. We are simply one with it and can experience it through the primal senses. We can trust that everything is perfectly moving us toward love and goodness...we can relax, let go, and allow something greater than our minds run the show. So will you join me in giving up resistance for 2015?
I wish for you a sense of safety, love and goodness, no matter what is expressing in your life right now. May you know you don’t have to be perfect to be loved. May your holidays and every day of the year be filled with the blessings of grace. May your consciousness transform your life. May you allow life to flow through you as love.