Life at times travels through troubled terrain. There is no place to hide, no way to avoid the inevitable discomfort of occasionally awkward circumstances.
But, there are practices that can help us navigate the turbulent times that are an unavoidable part of our uneasy journey.
When faced with the awkward reality of the painful present I can:
- Stop, be still, embrace the silence of unknowing
It is so tempting to flee, to deny and seek to avoid the reality of the painful present. I run faster and faster, fill my life with activity-distraction, and the anaesthetic of entertainment, or sensual gratification. This avoidance is a recipe for disaster. The antidote is to stop. Be still and silent in the midst of the wildly turning world. There is so much I do not understand. There are so many forces at work I can neither comprehend nor control.
When I stop and enter the silent stillness, I see that I do not need to understand or control. I surrender my need to make sense of my circumstances or to force certain outcomes. I accept the reality of the uneasy moment. Life may not be right, or just, fair, or comfortable; but these are my circumstances. I give up demanding, or even expecting, that life should change to suit my needs, wants, or desires. This is the beginning of moving towards that strong steady place within myself from which life-giving choices can be made and where my equilibrium is not shattered by the painful present.
- Open with every part of my being to the reality of what is
There are so many dimensions of the painful present that I do not want to accept. I do not want to allow the discomfort of this moment to serve as a mirror to my life. I seek to avoid facing my own denial, manipulation, escape, and deception. But this moment in all of its awkwardness calls me to deeper awareness. I need to receive this uneasy moment in my body, with my emotions, my mind, and my deepest intuition.
I am so easily trapped in my judging, scheming brain, caught in the compelling illusion of my capacity for comprehension.
There are dimensions to human consciousness that I so often fail to utilize.
When I allow this difficult moment to be as it is, my awareness expands, a deeper dimension opens. Freed from the burden of my calculating mind, my consciousness expands. I discover a new seeing that enables me to connect more deeply with the truth of my nature and a force of life that is larger and more real than the uncomfortable realities of this present moment.
- Face my fear
I am afraid of my vulnerability. In this uneasy moment, I want to flee my fear. I want to think my way out of this confusion. I plan and strategize. I strive to find the program that promises to fix the world.
But I cannot experience fully anything I fear. When I live from my fears, I live from a place that is too small.
When I face my fears, I come to accept that there is no strategy capable of building a secure fortress against all disaster. There is no force in the external world that has the power to keep me always safe and secure. Letting go of the illusion of safety does not entirely remove my fear. But the edges of fear soften; fear becomes less compelling. My fears have less power to control my responses to life. When fear eases, life flows more easily from the well-spring of wisdom that is my true nature.
- Recognize resistance
I resist everything in this awkward reality. I resist the anxiety that emerges when I am forced to face the fact that I do not know what is going on. I resist the feeling of panic that grows in the soil of insecurity and fear of the unknown.
The good news is that, as soon as I honestly recognize the myriad forms of my resistance, it begins to dissipate; a fuller knowing and awareness begin to open. Anxiety may persist, but resistance is reduced when observed and acknowledged. Resistance cannot persist in the clear light that emerges in the heart that chooses surrender.
- Receive the energy of grace that is present in even the most uneasy moment
There is a power greater than my fear. This life force may be difficult to perceive in the painful present. It functions in the subtle hidden realm of my inner being. Opening to this power of grace is always possible no matter how frightening my experience of this uneasy moment may feel.
The life-force of grace has never forsaken me. It pulsates at the heart of all existence. The core of life is faithfulness, steadiness, and strength. As long as I am open, I will know this presence as my true nature and the deepest reality of all being.
- Live from this place of deep authentic honesty
Self-awareness, honesty, and authenticity reinforce my sense of connection with that power of grace and love that is my true nature. When I listen more deeply I hear truth more clearly. I become able to speak with a more genuine voice even in the midst of the most uneasy moment. My words and actions flow more freely and naturally as I touch that inner core of goodness and truth that is my true nature.
The practice of these disciplines will not change everything. They will not make life always unfold as I might hope. But, these practices will enable me to travel through this painful present with a measure of strength and peace that I do not have when I remain determined to understand and control my circumstances. These disciplines are the seedbed out of which truly life-giving actions will emerge.
Mary Oliver captures this beautifully: https://whatcomesfromsilence.wordpress.com/