It now seems a bit ironic that my last post, at the end of January, was about finding our true pace in what can be such a frantic world. What I suggested as a task worthy of some thought and consideration has now been imposed on us as we are forced to slow down. Moving fast through the world with a doingness consciousness can become an addiction. Most of us have addictive behaviors, but are not addicts. In fact our addictive behaviors have often served us well to help us cope with and avoid very difficult feeling states or painful situations. As the world has come to an unprecedented screeching halt, this can be the deepest and most meaningful of times — if we chose to take on the challenge.
We can inherit our addictions, and the one I inherited from my mother looks a lot like OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). My mother, whose name was Bernice, was nicknamed Baboo Bee (after the kitchen cleanser popular in the 50’s). She scrubbed and cleaned everything continuously, including me. This was particularly frustrating for her and wounding for me because I never stayed clean! I was a constant project for her and I felt like I was a constant disappointment. I had a cousin who always seemed to stay ‘put together’. But not me. One minute after brushing my hair it would recoil and fly out in a million directions. ‘Stay on all day’ lipstick stayed on me for about two minutes, and still does.
In the past week I have been holding space for a lot of people who feel fearful and ungrounded. In between my sessions I have been going out to the garden and somewhat maniacally digging up weeds. My OCD has resurfaced with a surprising momentum and force. Not consciously, but somewhere below the surface I am sure I believe that if the garden is weed free, then I am safe. That I have done my bit to help the situation our world is in. That each weed represents a deadly germ and as I dig this one weed, getting the full root ball underneath it, I am making the world a better place.
It has helped me feel more grounded, being outdoors, my hands in the soil. But of course I know this strategy is just my way, just as it was my mother’s way, of dealing with stress and disorder inside and around me. It is an illusion of control, and although it is fruitless, it also helps in a small way. So here is one meaningful thing we can notice as we slow down. Watch for little addictions that are getting stirred up. Poke a little deeper for the real roots or deeper feelings underneath. This can help us get closer to ourselves — our true nature. Now I can look at my behavior with some humor and lots of awareness and compassion. I can begin to turn my attention to ordering my real inner garden, my inner home.
And as I contemplate this I turn to Tara Brach and her new book, Radical Compassion. On page 130 I find the heading; YOUR STAR IS CALLING YOU. And although her book was published in December, before the world as we have known it ended, she seems to be talking to each one of us now.
She says, “Awakening from the trance of wanting is a spiritual path.” And clearly many of our wants are stymied right now. For some of us, what we truly need, like money, employment, food and shelter, is being challenged. As one-by-one more and more things are getting cancelled, I notice an interesting phenomenon — some things that cancel are really disappointing and other things that cancel give me a sense of relief. This makes me wonder how much of my life I actually want to be living? In the trance of ‘wanting’, have I lost my way?
Next in her book is a beautiful meditation what contains the question; “What is my deepest longing?” This quiet time in our lives allows us to step back from everything and ask these kinds of basic questions. And some of us may be in too much fear to settle into them. At the beginning of my sessions I have been inviting us to remember the most beautiful, serene and safe place we have ever been. As we go back to this place in our minds eye, I illicit all the senses, how the air felt, the view or sights, the smells. As we linger there a little longer (30 seconds) we both immediately calm down and our fear or threat feelings reduce.
So, what is my deepest longing? What captivates me? As I make my way into and through the meditation she gives us prompts. Is it the longing to love fully or be loved, to know the truth, to be peaceful, helpful, to free of fear and suffering?
- The longing to be helpful fits. I feel this deep in the center of my being.
- I also have an especially strong longing and need to know the truth.
Those answers came to me. What is calling you?
Tara Brach promises that when you know your deepest longing it gives you a felt sense of innocence, energy and flow. I experienced this in my body. She also promises a potential inner shift that can give us fresh resolution, openness and ease. For me it makes my life take on new meaning. It gives me a new sense of my true priorities.
When and if life gets back to some new ‘normal’ I will be making different choices about how I spend my time. They will need to be in alignment with my deepest desires.
I hope that I will not need things to be cancelled to know they were not right for me in the first place.