Living a life that is your own takes a lot of inner work and bravery. It is not for the faint hearted, especially in times of challenges when we are called to face ourselves , dig deep and grow. The journey inward can be a lonely one. In fact, it isn’t meant to be done with company. It is important to have support along the way but at the end of the day, it is about our relationship with ourselves. It is how we relate to ourselves that determines how we can relate to others. I have learned first hand that the ways in which I can meet my own suffering as well as my own joy is to the degree that I can meet others with theirs.
The inward journey is not a linear path and there are no direct road maps along the way. I have found that there are times in my journey where I feel strongly connected to my truth and am “on-track.” I feel inspired when I’m teaching, writing, out in nature, working with my patients and connecting with my family. I have also experienced many times feeling disconnected and “off path.” In these times, I may lack the motivation to meditate, don’t want to write, numb out with food, go through the motions at work and just remain on auto-pilot mode. I wanted to write about this because many others have voiced this roller coaster ride to me as well. What I see now is that this IS the path- the “on-track” and the “off-track” are part of the journey. It is in the awareness of our feelings of expansion and connection when we aligned with our truth and the awareness of the contraction and disconnection when we are living inauthentically. We need to experience both and know when we are feeling disconnected that we have the ability to reconnect. Through our awareness, we understand that everything is impermanent. Our feelings of connection and disconnection come and go and our job is to witness them without clinging to the “good” and resisting the “bad.” When we witness first hand that all of our experiences, feelings, thoughts, sensations are constantly changing, we no longer have to fear that things will “always be this way.” It is in our witnessing them that we can allow all to move and enter the next moment as new.
The only thing that stands in the way of feeling connected to ourselves and the world around us is our minds- all of our false beliefs, perceptions and conditioning. Life is neutral and occurring every moment with or without our participation. We can be part of life or we can be stuck in our minds. The way to free ourselves is to know how to work with our minds. Through meditation, we train our attention so it is not always caught up in a mental movie. This is not easy work but it is the way to freedom. Our minds can be full resistance. Resistance comes in many forms- judgements, “should haves”, doubt, confusion, not good enough, procrastination to name just a a few.. It is in the way we meet our resistance with compassion that helps loosen its grip. Resistance is part of the path as well and it too is impermanent. In a twisted way, resistance is protecting us from getting hurt, being vulnerable and facing our fears. However, resistance keeps us stuck and as we continue to grow, our inner knowing and our intention for living an awakened life needs to become stronger than our resistance.
When I feel “off track,” I remind myself that everything is impermanent. I take extra time for self care. Self-care is what reconnects me. It is making sure I make time for meditation (even when I don’t feel like it), getting enough sleep, journaling and slowing down to acknowledge the inner calling for reconnection. I hike and spend time in nature to connect myself with life outside of my inner maze. The heart of self care is about meeting your own needs. We can spend a life time searching on the outside for our needs to be met- looking desperately for our spouse, parents, career, friends, money to meet our needs. The search will be endless. It is not until we can meet our own needs that we can heal and move forward. If we feel unseen or unheard, we need to see and hear our true self and follow it. If we feel unloved, we need to learn to love ourselves.
With the holidays coming up, it is important to take time to slow down and listen to the part of you that wants to be acknowledged, supported and loved. It is believing that when we feel “off track,” it is just a signal to slow down and go inward. Our inner state is reflected on the external. Once we clean up our inner workings, our external will mirror all of our magnificence.
I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with presence, gratitude and love,