If you are like many of us these days, you may be feeling the sharp edges of impermanence. Whether you attribute it to global warming, economic crisis, pole shifting, dramatic upheavals in weather patterns, or a mass rebellion against one too many passwords to memorize, change is in the air. It can feel hard sometimes to get a grip.
Ok, I’ll admit, it feels like things have been falling apart for the past decade. Sometimes I feel like my subconscious mantra is om ah hum another one bites the dust, SVAHA. It’s important to remember that whatever happens is just a step along the way, a passing phase. The current circumstances are simply the fruition of one phase, and yet they are also the seed of the phase that will soon be at your doorstep. So chin up! or you’ll miss that knock at the door.
What does one do while waiting for that knock? How does one manage the experience of solid ground getting swept away from underneath? I can happily say that, after much experience with this one, I’ve learned a few tricks.
First it’s important to recognize that solid ground is also an illusion. When you feel like you need to get a grip, remember that the secret is not to get a grip at all, but rather to let go.
Here is a quick map to guide you:
1. Go easy on yourself–be gentle. Don’t aggravate already existing external pressure by adding the critical “I” voice. Life throws curve balls; we don’t have to assume we did something wrong when things don’t go our way. Take heed of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s wise words, “pain is not punishment, and pleasure is not a reward.” It’s just how things are, currently. Nourish yourself with healthy food and supportive relationships. Settle into the breath when you can remember.
2. Reconnect. Spend time in nature. Re-commit to or take up a mindfulness practice. Alan Wallace’s Stilling the Mind is an excellent introduction to sitting meditation practice. If you’re not there yet, then try yoga, or writing practice, or painting or walking: something that let’s you tune in to your present experience without getting lost in the storyline. Remember what is important to you and re-prioritize if necessary.
3. Invite space. Often a flurry of activity can mask an unwillingness to be with the situation as it is. Acknowledge fear and anxiety if they arise, and simply let these emotions work through you rather than letting them take hold of you. Keep it simple and let the wisdom of the moment reveal itself.
4. Practice patience. If you don’t know what to do next, don’t do anything. Wait patiently for clarity to dawn. Practice inviting clarity–from a higher source if necessary. Use the time to reflect (not analyze or obsess), rest, reconnect with sources of joy and strength. Appreciate the small things. Remember that things will change again…