What would it be like if you truly trusted your life – the state of your health, your emotions, your mate, your boss, your best friend – in other words, trusted exactly what is happening? Rather than arguing with life, you show up for it, knowing that it is for you.
What do I mean by that? When you first arrived on this planet, you were a wide-open field of energy. Life flowed through you like the clouds in the sky. Then, over time, you absorbed conditioning from your parents, siblings, teachers, next door neighbors, television and religious authorities.
You didn’t know how to deal with all of the feelings that arose inside of you as you were being conditioned into unconsciousness (anger, fear, sadness, self-judgment, confusion, despair are some of its core building blocks), so you learned how to hold your breath, tighten your body, and retreat to the world of your mind, thinking about life rather than being present for it. And the free-flowing aliveness that you were – the joy that is inherent in young children – was turned down, just like a light on a dimmer switch. You got caught in trying to manage your life to avoid waking up the deep holdings you carried inside. And that is suffering! You try to control your life rather than being fully here for it, while the conditioning influences you from underneath your everyday awareness.
Instead of always trying to do life, feel what it would be like to show up for life exactly as it appears, including all of the deep feelings you have tried to manage your whole life. If you can do that, you will realize that life is bringing you the perfect set of experiences you need in order to bring your conditioning close to the surface so it can be released. It is a huge step in awakening when you stop arguing with life and instead are curious about what any given situation brings up inside of you. At that point, you have moved out of the victim mode and into consciousness. Even if it is just a moment of being curious about what is happening right now, it is a moment of consciousness and it is powerful.
The next step is to bring your focused attention into exactly what is happening inside of you, especially in difficult situations. Let me use an example from my own life. A couple of months ago I began experiencing an intense pain in my left hip. Not knowing what it was (hip dysplasia), I continued walking on it, then limping, then a cane, then crutches and then a scooter. Needless to say, my activities became very limited. In addition, I couldn’t sleep at night because of the pain and I had to ask for lots of help (my conditioning has a very hard time with that).
When I get caught in my head, resisting what is going on and falling into the victim mode (which hates and fears this experience and truly feels sorry for itself), I suffer. But I only spend short periods of time in that reactive place, and quickly I return to consciousness by bringing my attention into my immediate experience. I am able be present for levels of despair, anger and fear that have been waiting my whole life for me to wake up enough to give them what they need – my loving attention – so they can be freed. When I am that present, not leaving myself when I most need myself, it brings up waves of joy and gratitude. (If this intrigues you, I encourage you to read the chapter “Treasure Hunting with Sensations” from my book, The Gift of Our Compulsions.)
So, I may not always like times like this in my life, but I deeply appreciate and respect them because I know that life is giving me the opportunity to release some very deep holdings I have carried around my entire life. Much conditioning has arisen in my mind and has been met in my heart. And the free-flowing aliveness I knew as a child is dancing through my body again. Such gratitude!
Image: Child-Dancing by Anne Danahy