Credit: Pearls Before Swine
I am making a home inside myself. A shelter of kindness where everything is forgiven, everything allowed—a quiet patch of sunlight to stretch out without hurry, where all that has been banished and buried is welcomed, spoken, listened to—released. A fiercely friendly place I can claim as my very own. I am throwing arms open to the whole of myself—especially the fearful, fault-finding, falling apart, unfinished parts, knowing every seed and weed, every drop of rain, has made the soil richer. I will light a candle, pour a hot cup of tea, gather around the warmth of my own blazing fire. I will howl if I want to, knowing this flame can burn through any perceived problem, any prescribed perfectionism, any lying limitation, every heavy thing. I am making a home inside myself where grace blooms in grand and glorious abundance, a shelter of kindness that grows all the truest things. I whisper hallelujah to the friendly sky. Watch now as I burst into blossom. ~ Julia Fehrenbacher
“Actually, we are all hungry ghosts. It’s a metaphor for the part of us that’s unsatisfied. Because of our attachments and our conditioning, we miss the food and drink that’s right in front of us. In fact, the ingredients we need to make a meal that will satisfy us are all right here. But we refuse to accept the food that’s offered. We get taken over by the feeling that we can’t do what needs to be done. So we’re always looking for something we don’t have. Somehow we can’t just say, ‘Let’s take all this and make a wonderful feast.’ It all comes down to a very human habit: we’re always looking for something beyond what is right in front of us.”
Trauma is the invisible force
that keeps us running, restless,
in pursuit of some intangible goal.
Caught up in some unnecessary activity.
Addiction. Compulsions. Distractions.
Makes us escape into thinking.
Makes the body feel unsafe.
Makes the present moment into an enemy.
If we slow down.
If we stop.
If we rest.
If we simply do nothing.
Then we will have to face … ourselves.
We will have to face buried feelings.
All the shit we were running from.
All the darkness.
The aches and the boredom.
The night and the emptiness.
Trauma says, “Run!”.
Trauma says, “Do Not Stop!”.
Trauma says, “Just keep going!”
Trauma says, “Stopping is unsafe!”
We start by proving to ourselves
that it is safe to rest! Safe to be still.
Safe to do nothing, just for a moment.
Safe to think our thoughts and feel our feelings …
… and not ‘fix’ the moment in any way.
We can begin – one moment at a time –
to digest all the undigested things inside.
Stay with sadness for a moment longer.
Be present with our joy or shame for an instant more.
Breathe into our anxiety instead of running from it.
Become curious about our discomfort
instead of distracting ourselves with unnecessary food,
fantasy and false hope.
We can challenge the core story at the heart of trauma:
That the present moment is unsafe.
That the body is somehow working against us.
That feelings, sensations or thoughts are dangerous.
That stillness and silence equal non-existence and death.
And that we have to ‘do’ something
in order to be worthy,
It takes courage to stop running.
It takes courage to lean into the storm.
It takes courage to touch the darkness inside
with the infinite light of our curious attention.
It takes courage to break the addiction to futures.
And be present.
And not know.
“Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness.”
Excerpted from: The Wisdom of No Escape by Pema Chödrön
My heart feels particularly heavy today. When I start to feel overwhelmed and disheartened by the world at large, I turn to this quote from Gandhi. It gives me hope and strength.
“If you inherently long for something, become it first. If you want gardens, become the gardener. If you want love, embody love. If you want mental stimulation, change the conversation. If you want peace, exude calmness. If you want to fill your world with artists, begin to paint. If you want to be valued, respect your own time. If you want to live ecstatically, find the ecstasy within yourself. This is how to draw it in, day by day, inch by inch.”