For much of 2017, I felt drawn to the cocoon of darkness, self-reflection and solitude. During this period, a lot of sadness disguised as anger came forward. Another layer of old wounds was revealed. I followed the pain to see where it would lead. There comes a point where there is nothing left to do with it but put it down and leave it behind. There must have been something in the stars because a large percentage of social media blogs and posts were dedicated to this wave of pain and discontent. It seems a genuine feeling of angst was being collectively expressed all around the world.
So, here we are, a quarter of the way through 2018, and I still feel agitated a good portion of the time. I’m easily overwhelmed and quick tempered. I rapidly alternate between feelings of anger, sadness, restlessness and utter bliss like a toddler (or a woman going through full-blown menopause). I have developed strong aversions to toxic people and triviality. I feel a strong pull toward those that embody love and light and are on the path to awakening. My heart feels wide open to all the energy around me, which has been my goal for a while now, but the reality is tipping me off kilter. I know that practising patience and compassion will bring me back to centre and remove my aversions, but I have to say… it’s fricken hard!
I know from experience that I’m on the brink of a big leap forward in my awakening and am both excited and terrified of what will be revealed once all the dead skin has moulted off. What major life changes will take place? What will fall away and what will come forward to guide me through this next level? How will I integrate my old life with this new version of myself? I’ll be honest here, I find myself clinging to my old ideas and habits out of fear. I have gotten used to this way of being and the unknown brings up a lot of anxiety.
Balance will be essential and, as it turns out, that is my absolute weakest link! My greatest struggle in life is finding the midline. I’m far too stubborn to simply accept its location when told where it is. I have to go to both extremes before finding my way there. And even when I arrive, I doubt, question, challenge and push.
I know that I am 100% responsible for my suffering because I am 100% responsible for my mind. Mastering my crazy, wild elephant mind is my ultimate goal. Through this mastery comes awakening. I also know that although it’s important I don’t squander my time here strengthening the habits of anger and distraction, I must also cultivate gentle kindness and patience for myself on this journey. Again… much easier said than done.
So, my Balance Checklist going forward looks like this….
1. Speak up and tell the truth about how I’m feeling without worrying about how others are going to feel about my feelings. My job is to take care of my feelings and allow others to take responsibility for their feelings without taking it personally. I need to remember that not everything is about me.
2. Say NO to what I don’t want and YES to what I do want, without worrying about being labelled selfish. There are worse things than being thought selfish…. like, becoming so unbalanced I get hit with a catastrophic illness. If others want to make assumptions about who I am based on my choice to take loving care of myself, well, that’s just none of my business, nor my concern.
3. Slow the f*ck down! There’s no finish line. There’s no awards ceremony for those who die having the cleanest house, the longest list of accomplishments, the most money earned, being the most crazy-busy (often worn as a badge of honour as code for important and successful), or being the most well liked. Do one thing at a time and do it well; do it mindfully. Effective multi-tasking is a myth.
4. Put down the phone and connect and engage with the people right in front of you. Have meaningful conversations. Exchange ideas with an open mind and an eagerness to learn something new. Share your (often painfully) hard-earned wisdom. Stop engaging in silly dramas, negativity and tedious (and often hurtful) gossip. The best questions to ask yourself before speaking are: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
5. And most importantly, know that we are ALL doing our best at any given moment. We judge ourselves and others harshly for actions we feel are “bad” and “wrong,” however, we all make decisions to act based on the beliefs we hold in that moment. Sometimes, if we have a little self-awareness, we realise later we didn’t have all the true and relevant information, or were reacting to some old wound that this present moment triggered, or were simply being dishonest or selfish out of fear. Regardless of the reasons why we behaved poorly, in the moment, it really was the best we could do. And rather than wallow in shame and guilt, we can perhaps recognise a more skilful way to handle ourselves in the future and strive to do better. In the words of Maya Angelou, “When we know better, we do better.”