In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
There are so many inspirational quotes like this one (there’s more below) that have the power to give us a lift just by reading them. Each time, for instance, I read Camus’ quote, I feel my heart sigh – a spiritual pat on my back saying Good job! You can rest now.
For a few lovely moments I can feel a sense of accomplishment and be at peace. And then in the next moment, I review my daily list (yes, I do have a daily list), and dig in. Then on days like today, I catch myself wondering what my life would be like if I felt this sense of peaceful joy most if not all of every day.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my life: I’m doing what I love, have pretty good health, and friends and relationships that feed my spirit. Even so, when I’m challenged, there is a tiny voice inside me that can get loud and that is sometimes filled with terror. This tiny voice has a lot of power, because it can stop me from feeling that peace and joy, or even remembering it exists.
The voice isn’t fake – it’s real. But the reasons for feeling the terror aren’t real, at least not any more. And yet it persists. You might also experience moments of discomfort, or even terror, and if you do … if it helps … here’s what I do to calm that voice down:
- Be with your pain. That’s right! Sit mindfully with the voice, and the feelings in my body it generates. A know in my stomach, tense shoulders, whatever the sensation, I sit with the feelings and let them be whatever they need to be. The important thing is to learn to accept the voice as real and genuine, and a natural part of who you are.
- Limit your time with it. In my meditation practice, I always begin by focusing on my process of breathing; then move my focus to something else, ending with breathing. I do this so that I can begin and end on something that balances me, and breathing is our natural balancer. Each in-breath activates our sympathetic nervous system, and each out-breath activates our parasympathetic nervous system – together, this contributes to bringing us, naturally, into homeostasis. In the middle, I will take 10 minutes or even half an hour to be with my tiny voice and the sensations and feelings it generates inside me. I will only spend this time on it, limiting it’s influence and impact on me, so that I – and not it – controls my day. This is important! Being with anything or anyone doesn’t mean they get to take over – taking over isn’t a path to peace or joy. Ever! So limit the time you spend with your pain. Contain it by giving it time and acceptance, then moving on.
- Love yourself, including your pain. This may be hard to do, and yet it’s essential. If you can’t get past the judgments about this part of you that you wish didn’t exist, then at least respect it’s reality, and perhaps make an opening for love somewhere down the road. One way to do this is to think of this part of yourself as a small child who’s been hurt – because in fact this is very likely the source of this pain. Then ask yourself: What would I do if I were with a small child in pain? Would I brush the child aside, or comfort him or her? Then do the same to that small part of you that’s in pain.
None of us is perfect. We’ve all lived and experienced pain and disappointment. And this experience can leave scars as well as contribute to our maturity. I believe we need to acknowledge and accept both to live a truly happy life.
This newsletter is in three parts: the first part is my contribution; the second is a video I’ve found that relates to the topic in part 1; the third is a quote. I hope you enjoy the richness this brings to the topic of the week with all three parts.
Matthieu Ricard: The habits of happiness
Quote of the Week
We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages. For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org