We often get the reminder that we have to start where we are. Whether we are frustrated with the person who cut us off on the road or the slow clerk who is not understanding our request at the store, or we face a crisis that has the potential to change our trajectory in unexpected or unwanted ways, we have to start where we are.
Whether we are full of anxiety, confusion, fear, hope or resolve (and often, a mix of these), we can only start to move from the place where we are. It begins with sitting with ourselves, in that space, and allowing the experience to tell us what we need to know about our desires, goals, feelings, and frustrations. When we feel stagnant, it can be more difficult to get in touch with these as we slog through our daily routines and seek out excitement to replace the joy we feel we are lacking.
Six years ago, I was in this space, and I reached out for help at a time when I felt like I was hanging on to the threads of a spiral, trying to just climb back on so I could move in any direction. A friend responded with a heartwarming post that showed in my feed recently, reminding me that we are right where we need to be at any given time and are probably doing better than we perceive ourselves to be. She wrote:
“Our hearts are of pure intention. Only good. Only Love.
Our thoughts, our actions, are swayed by the chaotic world around us. Integrating the two is one of the hardest practices we are called for.
Our growth – for those of us aligned with our pure intention, which You are – spirals gradually upward. But spiral it does, revolutions that consistently bring us back around to our base, our starting point.
Look at your growth in this past year. Look at the step(s) upward that you’ve made. From one point in the spiral to the other – we can see that you are that much closer to taking charge. This step. This bit. Ionic in our minuscule perceptions as average humans, is, in reality, as huge and as significant as the universe itself.
I want you to get a sense of that. I want you to feel that in your Being.”
Today, I reflect on this and am grateful for all of the help I’ve had along the way. Though today’s struggles hold a different intensity and a different application to my life, the lesson is the same… integration between thoughts and actions. It truly is a practice to integrate the two, one that I feel that I fail more than master. But this message carries a reminder that mastery comes from repeating the lesson until we get it, then repeating it more so we don’t lose it. And from time to time, we get the same lesson at deeper levels of meaning and application to our current circumstances.
Our current circumstances as a society call for a balance of letting go and allowing ourselves to flow with the moment. To release our resistance and allow momentum to follow itself through so we can come to a resting place. This is by no means easy for many of us, especially for me. My instinct is to hold on harder when I feel something slipping. This is perfectly normal and natural. However, it becomes counterproductive when we do not allow ourselves the freedom to open ourselves to the idea that other possibilities exist, and may hold something even greater than what we can see for ourselves in our current vision tunnel.
All people struggle to varying degrees with this. Those of us who are trauma survivors, face these lessons on much more intense levels. The process of letting go takes longer, takes more practice, and more patience on our parts. It takes the support and patience of people we trust to help walk us through the confusion and panic that sets in when we release the fear that is holding our minds and bodies hostage. It takes a dedicated practice to perceive things in new ways, in the hopes that someday, we can experience a shift in our perception during those crucial moments. It takes a dedication to release our ego, which holds on to pride, shame, and embarrassment that follows a public panic attack or loss of control. And it takes a regular practice of learning to relax and be in the moment when things are quiet, calm and pleasant, learning to fully appreciate what we have.
My own journey has brought me within frightening degrees of this over the past few days, and I am deeply grateful for the moments of lucidity and respite that come with my practice of letting go, reflection, allowing myself to be vulnerable, and to focus on gratitude for what I have. I have been facing new health problems, and the pharmaceutical regimen and bureaucratic challenges to getting the resolution I need have been inducing frequent episodes in which I have the opportunity to practice these tools. Each time I make the choice to let go, I feel more connected to the purpose and momentum that has carried me this far, and less fear of the changes to come. Each time I hold on to the fear, confusion, and grief that overwhelm me in these moments, it saps the strength that I need to reconnect to my own motivation and the energy needed to take the next steps. In these moments, reminders such as the one quoted above which my friend wrote help me re-center and rest until I have the strength necessary to move forward. I have been learning that it’s ok to slow down more than I think is necessary and that all that I want that is meaningful to my purpose will unfold when I am prepared for it.
It is important to remember that regardless of our past, we are all here to learn the same lessons. Every spiritual and ethical path leads us back to compassion, connection, faith, perseverance, inquiry, and our own power to create a better experience of the world. Our experiences are opportunities to practice these on different levels, and the choices that we make in our struggles are the steps we take toward those opportunities. Even when we are unable to master the lessons that are presented, we are still engaging in a learning process that will present itself again in time, with new opportunities and tools. I am ever grateful for those on similar journeys with whom to share the joys, the struggles, and the tools that lead us back into our own purpose.