Have you longed for a particular relationship, job, creating a family or a spiritual realization only to discover that after achieving these things you’re still struggling; still not happy?
You discover that these accomplishment themselves are not inherently the key to your deeper sense of happiness?
There comes a point when the ‘games up’ and we realize that no matter what we pursue, achieve or dream into a reality, these conquests alone are not the path to happiness.
There comes a time on our path when we start to investigate how these shifting states and experiences are an integral part of our lives, however, they don’t represent the heart of who we are or the true inner peace and freedom that we long for.
Deepening Authenticity with Yourself
When we begin a journey of deepening into an authentic relationship with ourselves we encounter obstacles that feel challenging. We may discover that we are easily hijacked away from living with an open heart and a sense of deep trust and confidence in our life, choices and relationships.
One way we’re hijacked is when we ‘try to figure out’ why we suffer and subsequently learn to avoid, remove ourselves or even spiritually bypass those experiences that bring pain and suffering. Or we desperately attempt to recreate the ‘good’ experiences and become consumed with trying to replicate a past experience.
Abiding in the Eye of the Storm Rather than the Raging Winds of the Mind
An alternative approach is to cultivate deeper contact and access to the ever-present wisdom and intelligence that does not waver in the midst of extreme emotional spikes and changing experiences. I call this place ‘inner rest’; it’s also referred to as the witness or awareness.
If you’ve ever watched a hurricane storm you’ll notice that the trees splay their branches to and fro based on the extreme shifts in the wind currents. Some trees split in half, lose branches and become fragmented. Meanwhile with all the commotion we might miss that the eye of the hurricane, the center point in which the wind rotates, is actually quite calm.
As a human we confront internal hurricanes all the time and it’s up to us how we choose to respond. We can feel hijacked by the endless drama of the mind by believing our thoughts, fears and judgments of self or others? Or in the moment, as these experiences are arising, we can turn our attention towards a felt sense of relaxing despite the habits to resist, indulge or avoid the challenging experience.
By simply considering a moment of rest we make room for calm place within that watches it all with a total allowing for what is. We don’t force rest, we just turn toward the exploration of where it’s living in us in any given moment. If our inherent nature is restful then why not access this when stress escalates?
A Practice of Allowing
Allowing ‘what is’ does not mean we remain stuck and captive to the turbulent mind and painful experience.
Allowing ‘what is’, in any given moment, means being authentic and open-hearted to the reality of what is arising. The impulse is to frantically try to fix it, understand it or enforce a change.
Unfortunately this strategy often fuels the storm, the confusion and potentially creates more separation from our innate wisdom of resting through all states and appearances of suffering.
When we evoke a brief moment of rest, in the midst of a storm, we are reminded that we are not the experience we are having but rather we are the one that witnesses without any opposition to negative or positive states of being.
When we practice resting in these brief moments we may experience a quieting of our nervous system which often allows organic and clear next steps to emerge that we may not have been able to access through a busy mind full of panic, judgment or shame. Resting allows for new choices rather than habitual responses.
What is Rest?
Rest reveals itself to each of us in unique ways. For some, their mind simply stops, others they notice a deep breath emerge, others feel a sense of being more weighted in their body, while others effortlessly feel tension melt from their shoulders and breath deepen.
It’s not rocket science, but we do need to discover what ‘rest’ means to each of us individually. There is not a right or wrong way to access rest.
Can the Dismissal of Our Genuine Experience Create MORE Suffering?
How often do you catch yourself in judgment for how you’re feeling toward yourself, your partner, you colleagues or friends?
Do you notice that there is an impulse to dissect the situation in order to make sense out of what feels so intolerable? Or perhaps blame is directed toward yourself or the other?
This blame arises as an attempt to make sense out of the unacceptable experience. We spend so much time making meaning from our thoughts and our emotions because we don’t want to accept or welcome them simply as energy moving through us in that moment.
We’re afraid to be swallowed by the winds of our inner hurricane. Ironically, in my life, I am more apt to be swallowed and spun out when I resist what I am feeling rather than allowing and resting in the discomfort.
The Trap of Right and Wrong
It’s actually a smart strategy from the perspective of the mind. The mind wants to solve and avoid pain so it decides what is acceptable and what is not. What is good and what is bad. How we should behave and how others should be treated or treat us.
We become so mired down in the script of rights and wrongs we loose contact with reality. When we shift perspectives to accessing our innate wisdom, or the one that watches it all, we realize that all of the states come and go and there is no need to jump on the bandwagon of any one experience but rather allow them to arise and disappear over and over again. This includes the ecstatic experiences as well as the ones of despair, shame, guilt, rage, judgment and so on.
We are Not Our Thoughts and Feelings; We Are the Witness of Them
The invitation is to see through the illusion of solving or identifying with every thought that arises; even the most routine and familiar ones that you are certain are ‘your’ thoughts; as if they are an indication of who you are.
It’s time for us to challenge these assumptions and explore the possibility that we are not the thoughts but the one who allows the tides of emotions, thoughts and body sensations to come in and out like the water on the ocean shore.
Recognize Your Innate Capacity to Be Free NOW!
You have an opportunity to be completely free in this lifetime.
You have the opportunity to feel joy and ease despite what is unfolding around you.
Despite how ‘imperfect’ your mind may think you are or the circumstances you’re living with. This doesn’t mean you won’t feel grief when someone you love dies or anger when you feel a reaction to something that triggers you. This means you will meet your experiences by resting, witnessing and allowing ‘what is’ even in the most traumatic and painful moments. This is an entirely new way of being and we need to build the ‘muscle of allowing’ and accessing ‘rest’ together.
Judgments and contractions will likely continue to arise but we don’t have to resist or contract we can simply rest. As you read these words, if you feel resistance or disagree with what I am saying, see if you can simply notice the experience and simultaneously find a sense of rest within. Nothing needs to change to access rest and peace now.
Why wait until the floor drops out from beneath you?
Within 6 months my Dad died, I ended a significant relationship, ended my primary consulting job, moved out of my home and adopted a dog with severe trauma. I had no orientation and no sense of where I would live, how I would move through the deep grief and what sustainable work would show up to support me.
Through confronting this much loss, grief and fear at once I received the gift of being in so much pain that I was willing to try another way. A way I understood intellectually but had not surrendered to as a way of living.
Why wait until the floor drops out from beneath you when to access freedom now in any given moment of suffering or judgment? Give it a try. Next time your activated, STOP!
Explore resting and watching all the ways you feel compelled to fix, understand and solve it. Then take a few short moments to rest. In this pause we often receive a greater capacity to listen for the innate wisdom that is always present to guide us.