No one prepares us to step into the unknown

Yet it seems like it’s those that do that experience all the breakthroughs.

With loving intention, we teach our children to play it safe. Because safe gets them a guaranteed paycheck, health benefits, and people that nod and smile with approval. It’s not to say that taking a job that would offer our parents a great sigh of relief is bad. In fact, we feel blessed when what we choose in our lives can give them that peace of mind. The question is, do we know why we are choosing it? Are we doing it for them or, does it come from our own real choice? And once we are there, does the way we do our work, or live our life resonate with us? There is integrity in fiscal responsibility and consideration for others, but do we feel like we are selling our soul for it? Is there another way?

School (hopefully) makes us literate in reading, writing, and math. It does not prepare us to take risks, break rules, think for ourselves, and be okay with ourselves when other’s aren’t. We aren’t taught to be literate in ourselves. Yet, these are the qualities necessary for true, all-around success and good mental and physical health.

While we hope that one day schools can find a way to teach our children these softer, critical skills, we can’t wait for it. We need to become self literate, and we need to show our children by example. It’s not about feeling good by just reading about it. This literacy requires continuous life practice stepping into the unknown and risking the rejection and failure that we are so afraid of. Otherwise we fail ourselves by rejecting who we are and the inner voice that seems to be creating the conflict through our denial. Let’s understand that it’s hard, and it’s scary, because we weren’t prepped for this at all. Let’s decide to prep for it now, and start breaking through the invisible cage into the open world of infinite potential that we are.

Hope vs Understanding

I was listening to an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates this morning, and he was asked about giving hope to people. He essentially rejects the idea of taking on that role. He is a poet, and poets are not expected to offer hope; in fact they often deep dive into the realm of questions, and of pain and suffering. He is a historian and journalist, and they aren’t there to give hope but to write about what happened.

On a similar note, someone asked how we can give hope to our children, to which he rejects accepting any credibility he could have on the matter of working with or teaching children; he is a writer, which means, his experience is in the quiet world and solace of writing. A teacher or activist, on the other hand, works with people, and the most experienced of them are still in a quandary on how to effectively engage, so how would he know? But he did make an attempt to answer this question.

He thinks that kids aren’t looking for hope. They are looking for understanding. They want to understand why they can’t cross to the other side without feeling like they are in danger while the other can go anywhere and feel safe. He looks at hope, not in the way of saying that everything will be okay, but rather, in offering an understanding of what is happening, and how might we derive personal power in that understanding.

Help desk: when you are tired

Do you remember the computer helpdesk? You’d call support by phone, and the first question they always started with is, is your computer plugged in? And they’d run down the list from there based on your problem.

Here are a list of questions to run down when you are tired:

Did you get enough sleep? If you are constantly tired, you need 8 hours.
What is the quality of your breath? Inhale past the diaphragm, expanding on the inhale, lengthening the spine on the exhale.
Are you are drinking enough water? Make it room temp to hot.
How much caffeine and sugar are you consuming? Reduce it; it may suck in the beginning, as you probably know.
When are you getting up and going to bed? Are you napping? Doing what you need to do to get up rested by 6 am will serve you tremendously over the long term. Nap only if your mind constitution is more anxious and less lethargic.
Are you exercising? This, too, may suck in the beginning if you aren’t. Once your body surrenders to it, it craves it.
What are you eating? How are you eating? Food gives you immediate feedback. Pay attention.
How are you pooping? This is often the first sign of indigestion and getting sick.
How much of what you are doing in your day are you fighting? This sort of inner conflict is exhausting; it may be worth finding a way to align yourself to your Truth, as scary as this may feel.
How much of your day are you hiding from with distractions? You’ll start playing the shame, blame, and justification game.
Does your body remember play? Enough not to make reason to stay away from it?

Even a slight shift in any direction can make a change for the better or worse. If you are paying attention, your choices will tell you almost immediately if they are the right ones.

Only through time, time is conquered

To conquer time is to transcend the temporal through an experience of the eternal, but it is only in time that the eternal can be met.

Corey Latta

Honoring time to conquer time seems paradoxical, but when we don’t honor it (when we dismiss the importance of it) is when we feel most enslaved by it.

I was shared a conversation once between a friend and her therapist. The friend said she couldn’t help it that she’s always late, and her therapist asked her, “do you have problems making your flights on time?” The friend said, “no,” to which the therapist said, “then you can help it.. you’re just being selfish.”

As it relates to tardiness, whether it’s for a meeting or for a project, we can break it down to The Waiting or Procrastinating (to go so you’re not too early, or because you believe that last-minute pressure fuels you), The Rushing (to meet deadline, to “sit” for a few more minutes, or to squeeze a few more mini-tasks in before leaving), and The Stressing (enough said). None of which feels good; they create anxiety, and procrastination time only exacerbates the mind.
More likely than a blow-out confrontation, a silent, mental note is taken against the latecomer by the influenced parties, tempting them the justification to be late next time. Respect for each other’s time and experience is downgraded to simple tolerance.

In honoring time, we honor ourselves as well as others. We honor the Divinity of, and elevate, the moment. We communicate care.
When we dive deeply into the present moment, time becomes generous, and what needs to get accomplished does because there is no distraction. There is no time wasted trying to settle into the moment again and again. We are fully invested in BEing: being the writer, being the mother, the task worker, the friend, the creative, the playmate. Time gives back in those moments, and the mundane becomes Divine. Judgement is replaced by love as we become what we do. When time is shared with others, the relationship gives fully to itself in those moments. And when the time is up, we move on to the next thing and find richness there. Each moment in time offers connection, accomplishment, and fullness. It creates a sense of boundlessness and freedom in the very act of honoring and keeping time.

Time contains the very thing we need to conquer what enslaves us in its request for accountability, presence and attention.

The next time you have to do something, consider assigning time to it. Need to clean out the closet? Decide to work on it for 20 minutes and set the timer. Need to write? Decide on 15 minutes. Or 30. Or 60. Kids want to play house? Same thing; enroll them in the time. Do not go over or under; it undermines the commitment and integrity of intention and of your word.
Set the timer, then forget about how much longer, what else needs to be done, what more important thing needs attention, where you’d rather be, how you can’t wait until you don’t have to do this anymore, where to go next…. instead, dive deep into your work or play.
Time will feel much longer than you think you had, and at the same time it won’t feel like it’s dragging.
You may discover that you always have the perfect amount of time.

If the world became perfect, would we?

The world and everyone in it. Climate change deniers stop denying, and companies do the right thing for stakeholders (everyone). Our family members behave as we want them to. Poverty and discrimination ends. The common cold ceases to exist. So does cancer.

But they can’t eradicate our feelings, and we have nowhere else to point because everything is as they should be.

Would we stop feeling anxious, drinking, complaining, or being angry?
Would we finally be happy? Would we finally find the perfection in ourselves?

Can we imagine this happening the other way around, in reverse order?

Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage…

…the human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.” —William Ellery Channing

When we wake up to things that don’t feel right, or that are not acceptable to us, it prompts us to want to do something about it. And hopefully we do.

Because when we don’t, the existential anxiety that follows and accumulates with each pass feels so much worse than facing the difficulties. As I close my eyes to imagine doing this to myself, and the consequences of it, I can feel the dis-ease coming through. This very thought of passing creates what I can identify as depression entering my body. As I imagine continuing on in this way over time, I can feel the dis-ease setting in, eventually to take over my mind.
When I close my eyes to imagine, instead, confronting challenges, I won’t lie; it does not make me feel light on my feet, I don’t necessarily feel strong and energetic, nor do I feel happy about it. A sense of fear starts to seep through as I am unable to imagine the unknown. This I know I must catch and harness before it becomes overwhelming. But I sense that there will be answers (or clarity) on the other end, even in rejection; even in getting screamed at or judged. But I will have acted on an internal prompt for change. Prompted by me. I will have listened to myself. And things will have been revealed to me. And I will be able to move on real next steps based on real feedback because I will no longer be justifying and enrolling others in my stories based on imagined situations from worry, shame and regret ruminating in my mind and body, which ultimately lead to addictive or disempowering behaviors.

If pain will be felt at parts of my journey, no matter which path I take, then I want something to show for it, and I want it to be my path. Something other than existential anxiety and regret. I want the rousing to arouse me rather than cower me.
I believe that if taking chances on behalf of Truth are a gamble, then we are the house, and the odds are on our side. We just need to play like the house that we are.

Switching modes

What I have found to be one of the more valuable results of a daily Kundalini Yoga practice is gaining real time ability to switch modes from rest and relaxation to response-ability (action) back to rest and relaxation without much internal drama. Increasing mental agility, to me, was the flexibility that I needed to cultivate.

Similarly, I work to balance the switch between thinking and listening. To know when to switch from one to the other can be tricky, and it takes some practice and commitment. It’s simple enough to understand (in theory at least) that when someone else is talking, they are better served (and so are we) when we listen than think (or talk) over them.
But what about when we are alone?

There is a lot to listen for.

They say that thinking (like praying) is talking to God, and listening (like meditating) is letting God talk to you. If I am searching for answers or insight, then it seems worthy to listen for them rather than to give them.

So when I think or talk more than I need to, what am I really needing or doing?

My feeling is that when our gears are stuck in continuous action (thinking, talking, doing), and we have trouble shifting to relaxation mode (listening, digesting, restoring)… and when we finally think we are relaxing, we often really aren’t. Instead, we are distracting, self-medicating, or zoning out; none of which are digestive or restorative.

It takes doing to think and pray.
It takes being to listen and meditate.
They are both active in different ways.
But when action is born out of being and listening, those actions create more energy rather than deplete them.