Listening to Life
I have been in a deep creative flow for quite a while, spurring my productivity on, and on, and on. Writing, working with clients, my own self-study and learning, parenting, and completing tasks and projects… It has felt effortless, aligned and in integrity, and I have been conscious and appreciative of that. I have had immense gratitude for the ease of flow, my capacity to receive, and the Source from which it comes.
Ha! You knew there was an “and” coming, didn’t you?
And, the holding pattern of a self/personality can be extremely subtle.
Amidst all this ease and flow, productivity and growth… along with a deeper sense of inner agency and resourcing, that I have worked so diligently over the last years to come to know… Amongst all this evolution had come a subtle sense of forgetting, or what I sometimes refer to as amnesia when I forget my deeper relationship with what Is.
In the ease of flow I had innocently moved into a state of amnesia with regards to where all of this ease, movement and so on was coming from. While this amnesia moved in, so too had some movement back into identification and self-importance.
This is very normal for us human beings, particularly on the embodiment journey. Agency and inner resourcing can feel so utterly empowering… that it can almost seem like they are in charge of it all, giving the illusion that it is “me” that is responsible for all the yum in my life. So subtle – this flow and yum made me feel good, with a deep purpose. Caught in this current, I hadn’t noticed that hitching a ride was also an increased sense of drive and worth.
Again, this is all the stuff of being human. There is nothing wrong with feeling good, having purpose, or having worth. And– this can easily rev up a machine within us that starts to resemble something along the lines of self-reliance, arrogance, ego, and/or, self-importance, and an absence of humility. In the process of becoming empowered, I had forgotten what was truly empowering me.
My Body Stepped In
I wasn’t seeing any of that, however, until a virus stopped me in my tracks. I was midway through my day when I started to feel “invaded.” I power-housed through, as is typical for me. By the end of my day I was exhausted from head to toes, with a fever, and chills. I have a couple of “tried and true” remedies that seem to quickly push illnesses out of my system, or at least giving me enough relief to keep my normal work schedule, so I figured I’d be fine the next day. Except that this was the second virus in two months… something very unusual for me. This got my attention…
It was Time to Listen
Maybe I was supposed to slow down… and actually cancel my sessions and meetings for the next day instead of pushing through as usual. Maybe I had been pushing myself just a little too much? Maybe it was time to just stop, for a bit?
I have to admit, I had an ulterior motive for considering a break.
I was still thinking I was in charge.
Have you ever done something, because you think that it will lead to a good outcome? I assumed that if I just stopped for a bit, I’d quickly feel better. The hidden subtext of that was: and then I could quickly “get back at it.”
But I didn’t feel better.
I felt worse.
And then I felt worse-er.
I could handle the fever and fluctuating temperature, but the pain in my legs was overwhelming. When I was a girl I used to get menstrual cramps so intensely that I would squirm restlessly on my bed until the pain medication kicked in. It was like that, except that there was no pain medication coming.
I couldn’t find a comfortable position. I couldn’t find comfort, period.
I like comfort, and instead I felt restless and powerless… and worried. I don’t know about you but when worry comes into the picture so does suffering. And, well… I’m not a big fan of suffering.
This all let me know that something was going on, and that I needed to listen – sincerely listen.
What I heard was a call for deep surrender.
Giving it all up, while staying Open
It was time to stop producing. And it was time to stop trying to push myself into feeling better, as trying to prod myself to feel better (so I could resume being “me”) with all my amazing remedies had to cease, as that had taken on fighting and gripping kind of energy, too.
Letting go of trying to heal myself (in the wayIwas inclined to) was not easy but once that revving engine in me started to pause I was able to “lean back into it all” and I felt a wide web holding me. From here I tenderly connected with that gripping energy through gentle somatic inquiry. I discovered that behind that fighting energy was a me trying to be in charge of a body that was quite committed to doing its own thing. This was utterly humbling in such a way that something further softened in my being.
As the gripping softened, space opened up and I continued to gently explore. I discovered that there was an underlying fear in my system, stemming back to when I was very young, and was often forced into a doing mode of being. I was able to study the inclinations of my being to open, and then close to protect. Open, and then close to protect. I felt this in a physical way in the muscles in my chest. As I stayed with that, the early traumas unwove themselves as it became clear that my system simply wanted to be honored, not pushed in any kind of way.
As these energetic happenings unwove within my being, they were unwoven within my psyche as well. It became overwhelmingly clear that it was safe for me to stop doing, pushing and fighting, and turn towards deep being.
No producing. No writing. No sessions. No pushing or forcing or any kind. A fervent processer, I was in too much pain to even think. Watching tv or reading were also out of the question. I was invited to deeply surrender into that which was larger than the body that was in pain, the personality that was used to producing, or the conditioning that was used to pushing.
I was very gently and compassionately guided to truly stop trying to be in charge.
Language gets tricky here. What is it that is larger than my personality, than my physical form, than my conditioning? Atheists might call it space, the gravitational field or some kind of base level of intelligence/physics that acts on its own accord. Deists might call it god. Spirituality might call it the tao, the field, or love. Non-dualists might call it awareness. Whatever we want to call it, without the distraction of writing, reading, clients and other tasks, including thinking and processing, I was brought to a deep rest. In the process, I found myself out of resistance and struggle, and into a clear connection with/as “something larger than myself.”
It was at this point that I was able to clearly and humbly see and name that I had gotten swept away in my ability to produce, my resourcing and agency to process, and my capacity to “keep going,” and this had innocently given me, as a personality, a sense of worth.
As I was writing this blog post, I found something my friend Trikaya Olliffe had written that expressed this in such a clear and beautiful way.
“Love is the part of us that gives us the ability to chose, and we will choose whatever we feel is the greatest love because we will always seek what we love. So, if we love processing, we will always choose something to process. If we love power, we will always choose power. If we love safety, we will always choose what is safe for us.”
Unbeknownst to my conscious attention, I loved processing so much that I had made it my god.
“There is a difference between processing and Presence. We can process emotional and mental patterns to evaluate them to gain knowledge about them. And while this is good, it is not Presence. Presence is a state of being that is more like an observer of a process rather than the action of processing.”
It was both freeing and inspiring to experience the clarity of that, as a first step for me is naming what has been out of my attention, which then empowers me to take a step back, notice more and reconnect with what is most important in my life.
Being forced to slow way down, so as to avoid that sense of restless pain, allowed me to study my patterning with fine attunement. The simplicity yet immensity of this “something” was humbling.
I felt deeply at home, and my intrinsic worth as a human being – just lying there and breathing – was self-evident, pardon the pun, beyond a doubt.
There was something sobering about lying in a bed for hours every day, knowing that my true worth had nothing to do with my level of production or actions in the world. I had value, just by being, and I felt the truth of that through every part of my being.
To feel the truth of that was a delightful by-product of that virus, and I set a conscious intention to stay aligned in this way when I was back to feeling better.
Again, I hadn’t been doing anything wrong in my life, perhaps per sae’, but my relationship with Life had become imbalanced, and while there is nothing erroneous with having personality or a sense of self, I had subtly put my personality before that which supports and guides life.
I love the wisdom of one of my guides, MaDar “There is a fractal wisdom in the universe: God first, God in me, and God in other.” While wisdom of this truth has been my direct experience, it is my daily practice which sustains this seeing.
Presence over Productivity
I have to admit that my life is full of so many amazing things that it is easy to get lost in doing and producing. Post virus, I can’t seem to “get away” with some of the strategies I’ve used in the past. Although this can be disconcerting to my personality, it is ultimately a good thing as it has brought about deeper freedom.
I continue to be humbled by the wisdom of life, as well as the conditioning that subtly (and sometimes overtly) rises up. I remain aware of the dance between this larger invitation of surrender and my personality/the culture that I’m a part of that values doing above being.
While there is nothing bad about producing, being aligned with purpose, or with experiencing a sense of worth from either, there was a wisdom in my system that was being called to that was letting me know that I was getting a bit lost, and I had been too lost to notice. My body helped me wake up.
Sometimes our bodies get a bit loud so that we slow down to listen
My client shared this with me today:
It is so hard for me to say no to champagne offered me, even when I say “I’m not going to drink it this time.” It’s like I go into automatic pilot and just drink it. But the other day I felt off with a headache, and drinking the champagne didn’t smell good like it usually does so I choose not to drink it. That ability to pay attention and choose is new for me.
He usually isn’t able to slow down his habitual movements so as to check in with what he really wants to do. It took a headache for him to connect to his body, but once he was there he could connect to himself in a different way and consciously say no.
This reminded of my own illness, and how it took my body to “be off” for me to listen to it. Wouldn’t it be great if it didn’t take our bodies feeling “off” for us to pause, listen, and really tune in?
I know this is possible. But it does take some conscious work.
What might help us to listen?
Our bodies are wise, and are speaking to us. How loud do they need to get to be heard? Ideally, not very loud!
In order to listen it is useful to experiment with a daily practice of including my body/whole being, and connecting with it in a conscious and cognitive way. Asking questions is a beautiful way to develop relationships with others, and it can be a beautiful way to develop a relationship with ourselves as well.
I take time throughout my day to ask myself gentle questions, such as:
- What does my body need/want right now?
- Am I/my body being pushed or hurried too much? Do I need to slow down so that I can listen? Is there a call to soften- mentally and/or physically/physiologically?
- Do I need a 5 second break to connect with breath/being? (Or a nap?!)
- Does every creative thought have to be put into form? (This is a big one for me generally speaking as I have a lot of creativity coming at the moment.)
- Recently I have discovered a speaker that who is very catalyzing every time I listen to him, so I have stopped listening for now so that I can complete what is already coming into form. I can come back to it him when it is time. I know the timing will be perfect!)
- Am I feeling overwhelmed? Would it help to be more selective of what is getting into my attention? (social media, tv, etc)
- Would it be useful for me to be still with the energy of creativity instead of immediately acting?
- Am I experiencing a lot of flavors of ease and simplicity, or is there more urgency or command-type energy?
- Are the flavors mingling with ego in some way?
- Is there (white) saviorenergy happening?
- Are there things going on that have to do with my worth?
- Am I getting caught up in what I’m doing, and forgetting to lean back into that which occupies my being?
- What is the quality of my personal relationship with or as god/love/awareness right now?
Gently asking myself these questions can be useful in connecting with intention, grace, and usefulness/necessity of action. Asking these questions can also help me to be more receptive of divine gifts that are coming my way.
Listening to Life’s Teachings
The illness I experienced helped me to listen with a different set of ears, and opened me up to receiving a very sacred and profound gift.
I received the gift of knowing in my being, from head to toes and beyond, that I truly am enough, in every way, by merely being alive. Deeper still was the embodiment of knowing that I am on Love’s journey, not my own. It is impossible to convey the humility and freedom that came from this teaching, and I continue to integrate it.
I am left with a deeper knowing of trust. I feel more connected to the actions that I partake in, and I feel less compelled to engage in ways that are not of Love. Lastly, I feel a sense of simplicity in knowing that as I slow down and listen, my capacity to create and guide others will be for the greatest good, as opposed to for my personality or sense of self.
I have immense gratitude for the support of some very loving people in my life who encourage me in my full commitment to stay slowed down and turned towards Love.
Relevant to mention, I had just spent a month studying “should energy (I wrote about this last month) particularly as it flowed through my family of origin. I can’t help suspect that this was synchronistic in preparing my system to go deeper within itself to connect to patterns and other operating strategies that I had developed in my young years. Those energies, often so loud for me throughout my life, had recently become quite quiet. Where there had been “should energy” there was a deepened space of allowance. The spaciousness from the should explorations seemed to pave a different way of being that was in alignment with trusting the wisdom of the journey and letting go of the outcome or destination. Again, this was huge for me, and I find it fascinating that it occurred before the virus and before this deepening.
If the word “god” triggers you, I totally get it. After exploring my religious wounding I am surprised to have an affinity for a word that I used to have immense resistance to. For me, God is synonymous with Love/the space of awareness in my direct experience/knowing. Please use the word that works best for you- love, presence, the tao, light, mother earth, divinity, breath, star dust, flow, awareness, consciousness, source, space, life, etc.
In my experience, it’s not either or: it’s not either personality, or being attuned with/as awareness. In my experience they can and do co-occur within one’s conscious direct experiential attention.
I just happened to find a bookmark that my child made somewhere in her single digit years. Quoted on the book mark, from her teacher: “Life is doing.” Urgh. It’s everywhere!
This is something I’ll be writing more about. For now I’ll say that it has a self-serving egoic energy, while I might be telling myself that it is altruistic.