As we came through the recent equinox, where day and night are the same…it got me thinking about balance. In ESP we talk about the wagon wheel of life…how all 4 aspects of our lives – physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual need to have an equal listening to. That is, if we are focussing too much on one aspect to the detriment of the other 3, then our wheel is not in balance and will not turn as smoothly. It would be like being flung around the rim, not centred at the axis of the wheel. Yesterday a family member who drives an audi demonstrated the alarm that goes off in his car when one wheel is under-inflated. His car told me that there was a wheel that was out of balance and needed attention. If only we had a similar internal system.
I know, for instance, that if I spend less time on my physical than perhaps I could then I feel out of balance because of it. My body has a way of letting me know about this – with aches and pains, more weight, feeling tired or getting sick.
Intellectually I can get an alarm bell going off if I am feeling bored. For me, intellectual pursuits are linked with creativity. If I am not firing my creativity synapses, I will feel bored and lethargic. Stimulation of the intellect is called for – reading, writing, painting, music, singing. Particularly singing for me!
Emotionally I get an alarm if I am going down the path of staying back at the river. There is an old story – not sure of it origins – about a monk and his apprentice walking by a river. There is a woman at the river needing to cross. Their vows are such that they are forbidden to touch women. The woman begs for help to cross the river and the monk carries her across. About an hour later, the apprentice is very troubled and remarks to the monk that he should not have helped that woman that it went against their vows. The Monk said: “I left the woman back at the river, have you?” I am so often reminded that if I am carrying extra emotional burdens then there’s some leaving at the river I need to do.
Spiritually for me, I notice when I am feeling stressed about time, energy, money or direction, I am not paying enough attention to my inner world and some ‘me’ time is needed. I love the saying that if you don’t feel like you have enough time to meditate for 20 minutes a day you need to do an hour! If time, energy, money or direction feels like an issue, I commit to meditating more.
It’s all about balance. How are you travelling? How is your wheel feeling? Are you hanging on for grim death round the edges or are you centred in the axis, stable and solid with the whole of yourself?
When so much violence, anger, fear and tragedy are surrounding us it is pretty hard to remain centered. How do we make sense of the senseless? How do we come to terms with so much death and destruction on our doorstep and for some of us it has crossed a threshold and come into our homes.
We have all been touched – we are all being touched. The world really is on the brink of so much and so many decisions that us as the 99.9% who have no influence or can barely make even a ripple of impact on the direction our world is heading, are more and more feeling helpless and hapless, as we are bombarded with the nastiness of human nature & the power games of those in charge.
I hear about war zones and can have tentative opinions about Gazza, about Iran, about Syria; in reality those warzones seem far away from my comfortable little life in southern Australia. Even hearing of the atrocities of our current government treating people seeking refuge worse than animals are treated, I feel like I can only scratch the surface of actually making a difference and encouraging reason to prevail.
When a plane with so many innocent souls are blown out of the sky, it somehow makes it all the more personal. This could have been any of us. The fact was, it was any of us. I am part of a wider community in mourning for a couple who were a living and breathing part of this community only last week. I had worked with one of them facilitating writers workshops as part of my previous job. I had met his wife. I did not know them, but they were part of the fabric of my community. Any loss in my community is my loss. The grief is as personal as it is communal.
For me, the post effect of this carnage is that I have a more heightened awareness of a world in strife, of a world enmeshed in anger, blame, hatred and violence. I’m now reading the stories of Christians in Iran and I know them as my story; I read about the cruelty of war zones in all of the many hot spots and I feel them as though they were happening in my back yard.
We know they are happening in our own back yards. The world is our yard.
I was reminded of the words of Martin Luther King “only in the darkness can we see the stars” as used by Christine Milne – Head of the Australian Greens last week. She used this in the context of the repealing of the Carbon Tax by the Australian Government. For me it has a broad and very pertinent relevance for the state of the planet.
This helps me make sense of it all. For those of us working in the ‘light’ – whatever form that takes for us personally – the growth of the darkness means that our light will shine brighter. We may not have power and ‘influence’ on our side, but we certainly have the numbers. Our job as the 99.9% is to keep the light shining and shining a light when and where we can to counteract the darkness. For me that means making sure I choose love. Making sure I start with love for myself. Staying true to myself and remaining vigilant of when I am drawn into the anger, hatred and darkness and choose despair over consciousness and effect. For me it means going still more often. Making sure I read the good and uplifting stories as much as I read the death and destruction stories. Making sure I love those close around me ferociously, and extending that ferociousness out into my community who are grieving, and into the world that is brokenhearted.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear” Martin Luther King
Here is a link to a Calming the Heart meditation which also might help....
Ok – weird right? Feelings actually feel like something? When I began this journey of awareness, I wanted to feel better. I was told that is one thing awareness brings…feeling better. I get to feel my feelings…better. That is I’d get to feel my anger better, my joy better, my sadness better, my love better etc? Not quite what I had in mind but there you go!
I heard the Dali Lama talk a number of years ago. His take on it was that working towards enlightenment was not about coming to a state of equilibrium in terms of feeling states, but being able to navigate all the feelings, the ups and the downs, the good and the so called bad, with greater skill. That would be a cool thing eh?
So let’s have a look at a few feelings….
Anxiety- I have heard that breathing is the only difference between anxiety and excitement, which can feel pretty much the same on a body level…right?...breathy, heart racing, sweaty palm kind of feelings. So it’s good to experiment with your breath when you think you are experiencing anxiety, which by the way, is often accompanied by thoughts about the future. So some nice deep breaths into your belly can ground that feeling into excitement. Wild…I relate to it…it can work.
Fear- can manifest as the hair standing up on the back of your neck, or nausea, or butterflies, depending on the circumstance. Fear which is actually a manifestation of being in danger is more likely the hair thing, and something to take notice of. Butterfly fear is probably something that can be worked with – like fear of presenting, fear of conflict (yep I really should have that conversation!) or fear of heights. Not necessarily rational but a real and a physical feeling all the same.
Anger –mmm for me, it’s very upwards, very hot. If I look back on times of feeling angry, there was also a tingling feeling on my skin and a feeling of a bursting of energy that needs releasing somehow. I’ve been told this is another feeling that can be re-directed by breathing and grounding it into motivation, into a positive healthy action.
Joy - is also an upward and outwards feeling. Lighter and more expansive than anger. Less hot and more light – if that’s a description?...and you’d probably be having a grin from ear to ear!
Love…love…love. What does love feel like? For me I relate to an actual expansiveness in my chest, like an opening of a flower except bigger. Maaaaawww …yep it’s a beautiful mushy feeling alright.
What are some of your feelings and what do they feel like for you?
I chose to use poison in the garden today. To get at that rotten grass that has roots that go all the way to China and cuts through garden gloves if you try to pull it out. I thought I would blast it – the technology was there right in my shed. So blast it I did…and then I got to feeling guilty and thinking.
So what of my inner weeds. Should I blast them, or pull them out and risk getting hurt. Should I let them grow and overtake me and my vitality; let them hold me back, tie me down. Most often there is the temptation to lock the inner weeds away in the basement and throw away the key. But that’s the thing with weeds, they thrive in the dark and they have a sneaky way of coming to the surface when you least expect it. From their dark home they go on influencing…and growing.
I decided the metaphorical poison I use for my inner weeds is presencing, by that I mean coming right into the present moment and seeing what’s really there. The inner weeds took root sometime in the past. Somewhere in the past I started to believe things like “I am not good enough” or “It is all my fault” and those weeds took hold and I fed them with my belief. They thrive on belief you know.
The key is composting . From the present moment I can make a choice to compost those weeds. Bringing them out into the light helps first. Naming them and owning them and making a choice to add them to the compost so they “fertilise the future” as my friend Amanda Fleming would say. This is the technology in our tool shed. Like Tinkerbell – we need to believe in fairies to make them real. It takes perseverance, honesty and willingness and often this can feel like hard work. It was a powerful realisation – the garden will be pleased. I’ve decided to put the work in rather than use poison the next time.