Ten To The Thirty One

 

I have been on a bit of a whirlwind of learning over the past several months. Something in me is feeling very, very hungry for as broad and as deep of a perspective as I can open to and integrate into, in understanding the world, the circumstances we find ourselves in, along with my place in all of this.

For as things crumble and churn, if I can open to a wider understanding of Life itself, I am then offered a seemingly infinite number of opportunities to create anew. To get it “right.” Right being choosing for a life based on what it is that a human being needs to live and to live well; what it is to exist in the world in a life-affirming way. But I can only entertain new possibilities if I am willing to be open and curious to what is before me and who it is that I actually am. As I see it, this kind of willingness offers me a chance to see what we “affectionately” call the pandemic as a harbinger of good will, change and possibility.

What the Bleep?

Stay with me. For if we could see the virus as a messenger and catalyst of change and adaptation, we would not only line up with biological truth, we would come together with a Greater Reality helping us to understand that everything that is here is here for a reason. Here for us, actually. Not against us, as many of us would believe.

Because this can be so very different from how many of us think about this, and because we are in a time when the rallying cry is “the science says,” let’s go there. Let’s look at the science. Actually, let’s go even further by looking at a cutting-edge understanding around viruses and their essential place in our world.

According to Dr. Zach Bush, a triple-board certified (this is rare) physician and educator who speaks on the microbiome, he would say that we need the virus. He would say that the life-giving ecosystem of viruses, bacteria and fungi that inhabit everything in our world, including us, are essential for health.

Dr. Bush would say that there are ten to the thirty one viruses inhabiting our world. Can you even begin to imagine what that number is? That is a 10 with 31 zeroes after it. To give you a sense of the magnitude of what we are talking about, there are 10 million times more viruses than stars in the universe! This is perhaps somehow unimaginable to the human mind that we could be surrounded by, covered by, and inhabited by something that vast, and that invisible to us. Yet it is true nonetheless. More to the point, it is worth our time to catch up to understanding what is noteworthy and beneficial about viruses.

For instance, Dr. Bush would say that if the viruses really wanted us gone, we would be. That’s how many there are, and that’s how virulent some can be. Far more than we could ever combat. Which begs the question, if there are that many, and if they could wipe us out, why bother trying to fight a select few when the reality is that there are no “bad” microbes when we are in balance.Therefore, why not find a way to live in balance with all of them?

Biologically speaking, we are part of, inseparable from, a microbial stew. Always. And in all ways. From this viewpoint, it would be counterproductive to focus on eradication of, and far more prudent to focus on how we can be in harmony with. But that’s not been our way. Historically, we would rather wipe something out rather than learn how to co-exist with.

That needs to change.

Here’s something else to consider. According to the new science, viruses are here to help update our genetics. In other words, we need them to continue to adapt in a healthy way to our environment. Now, this might be brand new to you, so don’t take my word for it. Go check out a progressive source around viruses, the microbiome and how it all comes together in the health of an individual and a planet. For if what I have just passed on to you is in fact biological truth, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do in our attitude, beliefs and fear-based “reasoning” regarding our current approaches.

Looked at in this way, we are called to come to grips with the stories and the behaviors that we have embraced and that leave us living out of balance and apart from our true inheritance. All of the ways that our separating ideas are in error biologically and spiritually. All of the ways that we go after and attempt to eradicate the offending entity as opposed to finding the balance, has got to stop. And we have got to open our eyes on a very common sense level, that something is not working here, and has not for a very long time.

Will we be willing to recognize that and chart a new course? Will we be willing to wonder what is possible here if we open to everything that is available to us as opposed to only one source of information around what to do?

We have got a big, collective chance here my friends. What are you going to do about it? Will it be business as usual? Will things have to get completely desperate before you entertain another perspective?

Or are you ready for Something else?

 

 

Just Like Me

 

As I have been finding my way through the times we are living in, I have been enrolled in a Compassion Cultivation Training course. I got into it because in the midst of anticipating a challenging encounter several months ago, I “randomly” opened a book on compassion that had been sitting on my shelf for a while. And then, I “randomly” opened to a section on a practice recognizing our common humanity with others known as “Just Like Me.” As in, Just like me, this person I am struggling with seeks to be happy. Just like me, this person seeks to avoid suffering. Just like me, they…

I spoke this phrase in my mind regarding the ones I was battling with, and in an instant, everything went quiet. Immediately. And a deep, deep peace washed over me. Given how much apprehension, resistance and inner girding was in play for me, I cannot begin to tell you how surprising this all was.

And how very, very welcome.

I do not want to be at war with another. And yet, I find it one of the most challenging things I wrestle with. That being, how to live the truth of who I am and what it is that I want for the world while bumping up against others who have a different agenda. Whose version can seem to collide with what I most value. To be at odds with what makes sense to me. To smash into, and even deny, who I am and what I most yearn for with all my heart.

And I find it particularly challenging when fear is in play. For either myself or the other. For it is in those times that we, in our state of fear, begin to look for a source of danger. Begin to look outside of ourselves to identify where the threat is coming from. This is a great plan when the danger is real, but a catastrophically bad one when one our fears are imagined.

For to be in a place of imagined fear with another pits us against each other. Leaves us only able to believe that the one on the other side of us is wrong, evil, the problem. A danger. And because our fears are imagined while simultaneously seeming so very real, we cannot see our way clear of this because the fear locks us in; keeping the wrong thing alive. Fear, because of its connection to survival, even when imagined, will keep us fighting off imagined foes and all the while justifying our actions as necessary. In effect, fighting a made-up battle against a made-up foe.

I saw that in myself that day when I recognized how I was seeing others as different from me. Not like me at all. And in that place, I was able to make them the bad guys. The source of my suffering. The ones in the wrong. It left me recognizing that in keeping them separate from me, I was increasing and holding onto my own suffering. And I was ignoring that they were having their own experience. As legitimate as my own.

We have so much of this going on between us now. And I will tell you that as long as we keep the “other” side on the “wrong” side, we will all suffer. Greatly. 

To be clear, this is not about accepting bad behavior. It is not about forgoing your values, what you need or who you are. Instead, it is about recognizing that everyone, everywhere, at every time, and under every circumstance is somehow just like you. Even if the agenda is different. Even if their solutions and sensibilities are different. Even if their way of life, their politics, their beliefs, their “you name it” are different.

We are all just like one another in that we all want to be happy and avoid suffering. In that we all want to be loved and recognized. In that we all want to be safe and free from harm. In that we all want a world that makes sense to us. In that we all…

The book I mentioned is called A Fearless Heart: How The Courage To Be Compassionate Can Change Our Lives by Thupten Jinpa, and the program can be found at https://www.compassioninstitute.com

 

 

 

In-Between Places

 

I don’t know about you, but the times we are living in can feel like a kind of suspended animation. A limbo of sorts. A collective holding of the breath, if you will. A waiting, waiting, waiting. A place that is neither here nor there. A retreat that goes on for more than you believe you can endure.

As someone who has intentionally spent a lot of time out of time, I know this one well. That place where you have geared up for, been with all kinds of things you never thought you could be with, and now, you have had enough. Now, it feels like you have done all that is yours to do. Risen to the occasion more times than you can count, and now, you are ready for a break. Ready for it to be over.

Only… It goes on. Right in the face of all that you have done. Endured. Been patient with. Learned from. Been a good sport about. And it can start to feel unfair. No longer helpful. Beyond your capacity. A punishment even.

The Celtic lore refers to those places that are neither here nor there as the “betwixt and between” places; threshold times when the boundaries shift and all bets are off; giving rise to a new way of seeing and being with ourselves and the world. As they say, the veils are down, and we are, with the right frame of mind, privy to something extraordinary. Maddening, you might think. Or magical. It all depends on your perspective.

This week, I read the phrase, “the in-between place is still a place.”* Imagine that. The in-between place is not a no place; some time or space without its own location and address. It is not a place to be gotten past on your way to somewhere else. It is not less desirable than where you have been, or where you most want to go. Instead, it is a place unto itself. One deserving of your full attention. Your acceptance. Your respect. And most powerful of all, your reverence.

How often do we live as if there is somewhere better to be than here? As if, when this is over, then, finally, I will be where I most want to be. Need to be. Deserve to be. It’s funny, that for a place we often don’t want any part of, it sure can take up a lot of head space, and by extension, a lot of our life.

But what if it were true that the in-between place is a place. A place you want to include. What then? A while back, the thought “No where is better than here”  occurred to me. Try it. Whenever you catch yourself trying to get away from where you are, say that out loud to the betwixt and between space, and see what happens.

No where is better than here.

 

* The Shaman’s Mind by Jonathan Hammond

Witches in The Woods

 

I have a friend who hosts herbal trainings at our farm. She was here recently doing what she always does. But now, under the sway of the times, things are different. Meaning that when she arrived, instead of doing what we always do when we see each other, which is to give and receive a most generous hug, she instead whispered to me, “We’ll hug at the end after everyone leaves.”

There was a moment’s pause in the exchange as I caught up up to it all. And then, quite unexpectedly, these words fell out of my mouth; “It’s just like when we were witches in the woods and we had to hide the good we were doing.”

I have been thinking about it ever since.

There have been so very many times in history where the people who believed they were in the “right” turned out to be doing some very harmful things. An easy example of this is The Flexner Report “funded” by Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockerfeller and others interested in promoting one kind of “medicine” over any other; effectively demonizing, driving underground and wiping out many effective alternative holistic therapies. This not only set the stage for the rise of conventional medicine, it has effectively given the AMA a monopoly on how health care is constructed, practiced and delivered; with a massive feature being the denigration of anything that does not fall under its auspices.

History is rife with these kinds of examples.

Knowing this, could we be ever mindful of how we are stepping forward in these times? Especially, when we believe we are on the “right” side of things. Especially, when we would be tempted to go on a witch hunt against those whose perspectives we do not agree with. Or are afraid of. Or are unfamiliar with.

I write all of this as I am standing in the middle of the woods. I am so engrossed in getting the words down, that though I hear a rustling, I do not look up. Until I do. And in the looking up, I am blessed to see a young black bear tumble her way down the embankment towards me. It catches my breath and brings me to tears because I take all of this as a sign. A sign to keep going and trusting myself; despite the challenges of sometimes feeling alone in what I am sensing and knowing.

In some traditions Bear medicine represents introspection. The ability to go within. To pause. To reflect. In my mind I marry this teaching with the youth of the bear. With her innocence, openness and curiosity, And I begin to imagine what it would be like if we could all extend to one another a grace-filled combination of introspection and innocence when it comes to how and what we all believe in. Along with how it is that we treat those who believe differently than we do.

Especially if your opinion falls under the protection and auspices of the mind set and mandates currently in power, it would be a most gracious act indeed towards those of us not in the majority to be given the space we need to hold what we know to be true for us without being pushed out. Punished. Or vilified.

Because beyond it all, what if the point here is not whether or not you subscribe to anything in particular, and is instead about being more open around  another’s beliefs on how to be healthy? And what if we understood that beyond being “right,” beyond trying to eradicate what we do not understand, this moment in time centers around a big opportunity. The biggest of all. That being, to make space for All beliefs. A chance to change business as usual, where only one perspective is given the lion-share of credence, and instead to make sure that all perspectives and voices have a place at the table.

Even the witches.

Who (or What) Is Your Oracle?

 

Oracles can seem like something right out of a Percy Jackson novel. Something fanastical, mythological, and therefore, not born of reality. Not helpful in the day to day. Not something a grown person would do. And yet, when we view an oracle as a “wise and authoritative answer,” or as a “revelation,” it all begins to take on a very different feel. For the truth is, who among us could not use a little more unerring, and dare I say, otherworldly knowledge or guidance.

This week, I heard a teacher say that as humans, when we are struggling, we go to the material world. We go to our computers, our statistics, our medications, and our distractions. We go to our fears, our insecurities, our habit patterns and our assumptions. We go to other people, and we go to the statistics. In a nutshell, we go outside of ourselves for the fix. Nowadays, that “fix” is virtually endless.

I am witnessing that right now in my own life as I all too often find myself at my inbox looking for how I get to feel about the work I have to offer the world. As if the great and mighty oracle of Hotmail will tell me whether or not I am heading in the right direction around my life’s work, around my most sacred callings, yearnings and devotions. It is all so very painful. So very, very unfulfilling, confusing, maddening and distracting. That is because I am in the wrong place.

In fact, it is actually destructively easy, “convenient,” and far too accessible for our own good to be able to push a button, get an answer and wind up in the wrong place. Interestingly enough, too often, it is not even close to the answer, as in the one we most need or is most accurate, but instead, is an answer; that whether valid or not, stands in the place of what we are seeking. Only… Have we paused to consider that what is so quick, so decisive, so seemingly real and authoritative is in fact distancing us from ourselves? Making us “instinct-injured?”* Separating us from our truest nature and with that the treasure trove of instinct, intuition and connection? Have we considered that distanced from the guidance, well-being, sovereignty, and yes, natural sacredness that is our birthright, we are in fact destroying ourselves?

It is so hard to not know. To be uncertain. To feel small and out of control. And yet. And yet. Contained in all of that is a map. A map for living right up close and personal with the Truth of who we are, and how things actually work. But it only becomes available when we are willing to see it as such. Only available when we become the strict guardians of who and what we use as our Oracle. As our ultimate Source.

Several years ago I had a student who came up with the most elegant and profound gatekeeping strategy I have ever encountered around how we use the technologies. She taped a sticky note to the back of her phone with the question, “Why am I here?”

WHY AM I HERE?

Drink that in deeply for some perspective. Are you here to be guided by what comes out of a machine? Or by Something Greater? Are you here merely to latch onto information being pushed on you, only to spew it back out again? Or do you have something of your own to say? Are you here to ping-pong back and forth between fear and false external assurances? Or are you here to discover what to put your faith in?

The questions are deep, and they are so very profound. The ones worth asking always are.  And, the ones worth asking cannot be answered by another. Or by an inbox.

*Clarissa Pinkola-Estes

Power

 

I recently found myself in a strong conversation with friends around vaccines. As we all know, this is one of those topics that can get heated and divisive. Fast. As I pondered this conversation, spending the day that followed reflecting more deeply into what lies behind such trouble spots between us, especially when you factor in that we all want to do right by our children, this is what I came to.

It occurs to me that beyond the divide of which side you find yourself on, beyond the heated arguments, and beyond the entrenched beliefs that give rise to so much intensity, is an issue of power. As in who currently has it, and therefore gets to decide, frame and orchestrate how things go. Interestingly enough, this is being reflected everywhere right now. Whether we are talking about Black Lives Matter, the political divide, wearing masks, education, medicine, guns, war, food, you name it. It is all up for grabs as many of the current structures holding the power are being challenged.

Power and how it is concentrated, and therefore behaves and enforces, is right at the heart of everything we as a people are facing at this moment in time. Of course this has always been there, visibly or not, but interestingly enough, it is now being magnified to such an extent that we cannot ignore inherent, unfair and unjust power differentials any longer. Beyond the discomfort, the chaos and the break down, it has all become so much easier to see, track, and therefore, address.

And so, as we step forward, an important element to keep in mind is that when you are under the umbrella of the current power structure, you are given protected status. No matter what. Whether you are right or wrong, fair or unfair, and even whether or not your beliefs and actions are life-saving or life-depleting. And when you are not under the umbrella, your views, needs, wants and vision are dismissed, demonized, denigrated, ignored and sometimes, even outright punished.

Because power misused marginalizes and disenfranchises whatever does not fall in line with its agenda, whatever challenges it or falls outside of its tightly held scope, is given the boot. One way or another.

Power concentrated in less than life-giving and life-affirming ways can feel so ugly to those of us seeking a world worth living in for all. One that includes a range and diversity of acceptance and respect that extends well beyond even the important conversation we are having right now around race. Because at its best, what we are coming to is a way to be in relationship with one another that honors All. All beliefs. All needs. All visions. All ways of being.

To bring it directly into something more manageable within each of our lives, where do you refuse to honor another perspective? Where do you demonize those holding an opposing position that you not only cannot understand, but that somehow feels like a threat to you? You do not even have to go to the “big issues.” Just watch what you do in the daily around feeling angry or threatened by those choosing differently than you. Pay particular attention to how you are able to do what you do based on whether your “party” is in power or not.

And could you, for even one moment, consider that just like you, the other side is doing what makes sense to them? And could we decide to land there with each other instead of either taking cover under the umbrella of the current power structure, or falling outside of that shelter, feeling victimized or defensive.

This is never about whether or not you believe “my side,” but instead, that all sides get a place at the table; whether they fall under the protected status of the power in office, or not.

(And to those who were part of this conversation recently, thank you for helping me to get more clear)

Trust & The Times

 

“Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live.”

This powerful line by Goethe has been one of my most steadfast reminders and mantras for almost two decades. I ran into this profound guidance just when I needed it most. As in, just when I was open enough to believe that perhaps, just perhaps, it was up to me to decide how I got to live. How I got to feel about myself. How I got to choose what to believe in, what to want, what to need and how to be.

This was all happening at a time when I was just beginning to wake up to the idea that my life would remain the unhappy mess I often fell into because of my outer and other oriented approach to Life. Or, I could find another way. There was no choice as far as I was concerned. As a new mother, I was up against the harsh reality that Life as I had known it, was over. And even though a great deal of me wanted to hunker down and force things through per usual, another wiser, more trust-worthy part knew that somehow this was my chance. Though at the time I could not have told you what that chance was that was being offered to me.

But I can now.

And what I can tell you is this. That “time” I am referring to is here now for all of us. Whether we want it or not. Whether we are comfortable or not. Whether we feel as though we can do it or not. The time is now and it is here. And it cares not for our ideas around how things are supposed to go. It is here and it is asking one question, and one question only: Will you be with it? Will you let yourself be shaped by the times, carried by them, smashed to smithereens by them, squeezed out empty by them? With no guarantees offered. With little foreshadowing available. And with lots of confusion, frustration and missteps, along with lots and lots of hard work.

This is not easy and writing it makes me wonder who would ever sign up for such a thing? The answer? None of us. Not one of us. Which is why the big shifts in our lives come in ways we have no control over. In ways we did not see coming, nor would ever ask for. And yet, somewhere in all of this there is a hidden promise. That being, that if you can learn to navigate the unknown and the unknowable, exactly as you and only you can do, mistakes and all, you will be gifted with the most profound of all capacities: self-trust.

Self-trust gifts us with the colossal ability to go inside, to go below the noise and the external pressures of those around us, as well as our own fears, hang-ups and limitations. And in the going beyond we come to a place where the most exquisite answers and guidance reside. A place that does not answer to the status quo, consensual reality or mass consciousness. A place that despite the way it moves against consensual reality, offers up, for all of us when even one of us gets there, the most supreme of all perspectives; a flowing, never-ending Source of information that transcends the 24-hour news cycles, social media feeds, the fears du jour, and all of the rest of the inner and outer noise that we engage in that takes us away from ourselves, each other and the Truth.

Do you feel called to help the place we individually and collectively find ourselves in now? If so, the greatest act you could ever take would be to learn how to trust yourself. To learn how to think for yourself. To learn what you need and then, how to satisfy only the realest of those needs.

How to begin? Make a commitment to yourself that you, and only you, can decide what is right and true for you. Then, watch what happens. And when you come to all of the places where you allow others to tell you what to believe in, what to want, what to feel, and how to be, know that your work has just begun. And when you come to the place that believes that to do this would be selfish, know that your work has just begun. Best of all, know that it will be the most valuable and finest work you have ever done.

P.S. Get away from the mind-numbing and incessant messages that distract you and that you take as your own, without even knowing it. Question whether your thoughts are your own, or are something you have picked up from outside of you. The only way to do this is two-fold: get agenda-free time on your own, and fast from outside versions of “truth,” in whatever form they take.

Distress

 

We have chickens. For the past year we have had six of them. They are their own little flock; easy on each other and easy to be around. Last week, we brought in four new girls to join the existing flock. As you might imagine, the old girls did not take kindly to the new girls.

During the first night, for what seemed like hours to me, after we had closed them up in the coop, the distress calls began to ring out into the night and right into my living room. I opened the front door to hear better. I listened. And then I listened some more. Mostly though, I fretted. Were they all right? Were the old ones attacking the new ones? Would I find a bloody mess in the morning? Would it be my fault that I did not intervene? Finally, coming to the conclusion there was nothing to do, and in order to save my own sanity, I had to close the window. But I could still hear them.

Despite trying to reassure myself that they would work it out, something in me felt agitated and lit up by the distraught nature of their calling.

In the morning when I got into my practice, the same thing was being played out again. Over and over and over. It was driving me mad. My whole body, heart and mind was filled with their distress. I literally could not get beyond it. So much so, that I was driven off my mat and out to the coop to make sure no one was being harmed.

As soon as I arrived, the original girls, who were making all the noise, came over to me and quieted. It felt so good. And then, it didn’t. Because they started back up again.

Back on my cushion, I watched the agitation in me rise again and again based on their distress. And so I began to wonder about this. I know that it is natural for one sentient being to feel what is happening for another. That it is a necessary and essential part of being alive and being with others. And I also know that as a human being, I can muck up the works with my beliefs, habits and imprints about what it means to be with another’s suffering. This is especially so for some of us, more than others.

Because I know this about myself, I watched my thoughts and emotions around all of this. And what I found, way deep, deep down, was that my discomfort was not so much that they were distressed (although that was there). Not so much that I could not soothe them (although that was there). But mostly because I felt that their distress was somehow connected to my own well-being. In others words, that unbearable feeling I was having was less about them and more about me. It was me believing that if another is troubled around me, then somehow I cannot be OK. This leaves me doing the only thing I think I can do: Make another’s troubles my troubles.

Which takes me to something my astrologer recently said to me: “Two drowning people are not better than one.”  Or for that matter 50, or a thousand, or a million, or a world full of the distraught. Don’t get me wrong. This is not about ignoring suffering. It is instead, about not increasing it. About not taking on what is not yours. About not making a life out of being miserable because others are miserable. For the truth is, someone, somewhere, will always be in trouble. And if your happiness and well-being are linked to that, well, you get the picture.

The natural fact that we are indeed all inextricably bound aside, how often is our concern, our compassion, our empathy really about our need to get another to be okay so that we can be okay? In other words, how often are our altruistic, caring gestures, in fact, a kind of co-dependency? This can be very, very hard to hear for all of us caring souls. And yet,  getting clear on this is a crucial piece of the puzzle as we make our way forward in times where the distress is so palpable. So visible. So alarming.

Interestingly enough, if we take my small example of going out to the coop, there is guidance there. Because I made an effort to calm myself as I approached them, they were able to sense that, if even for a moment, giving them respite from their distress. Try it. Instead of jumping into the drowning pool with another, make yourself calm and be with them. No fixing. Just being, while being as okay as you can possibly muster.

New Normal

 

I recently heard author and women’s health advocate Christianne Northrup describe what we are going through right now as “The Great Awakening.”  Yes. You heard it right.

With that said, could you, for even one moment, open to the possibility that everything that is happening now, all of the chaos, the pain, the uncertainty, the fear and the break down, is Something exquisitely and intentionally designed just for you? As Something not meant to punish, but to promote the very highest and best in all of us?

I know, it can feel like a stretch. Or even an insult or an outrage. Or something too New-Agey to take seriously.

But what if it were true? What if this was our one big chance, for all of us here now, to do something different. Something life-affirming. Something beyond what we would have thought possible, or been willing to do when things were less intense. More “certain.” More to our liking. More “normal.” What if all that is happening is precisely what is required to wake us up to the truth that each and every one of us is here at this very moment for a great and powerful reason? And what if, even if you think I am full of it, or this makes you mad, that you might decide to play along just to see what would happen by picking up such a powerful and profound perspective.

That perspective being, that what you do matters. That how you meet up with Life matters. That this is your one life, and this is what is here now, so what will you do? Will you bemoan the fact you are here? Will you live feeling as though you have been cheated from your life? Will you lash out because it is not what you wanted? Will you hunker down in terror?

It puts me in mind of a new favorite quote of mine: “The will of God is not for weak people.”

Several months ago, just as all of this was really getting started, I was traveling back and forth to Florida to be with my mother. In the midst of the fear brewing, the uncertainty of what was happening with my mother, the proximity to people I feel challenged by while finding myself moving through a medical system that feels inhumane at best and downright harmful at worst, every day, every single day, I would ask for a miracle.

And every day I got one.

Some days it would come in the soft sweet singing of the woman who was drawing blood from my mother’s terribly bruised arms that brought me to tears for the sheer humanity and tenderness of the moment amidst a brutal health system. Other days it would come in the form of a song that was playing as I turned on the radio; where the line being sung at that exact moment, spoke directly to where I was at and gave me all the hope and reassurance I needed. On other days it came in the form of the pre-dawn quiet and all that was conveyed to me in that space. I am filled with emotion as I write this; being instantaneously brought back to a perspective that gave me life when it felt as if there was so little to be had.

It is easy to succumb to fear, doubt, panic and negativity. But what is encoded in any Great Awakening is the strength, the endurance, the courage and the grace you need to pass though something you do not believe you can pass through. And it is in the faith, the foresight and the grit to recognize that in the dismantling, Something, somewhere, must be trying to tell you something.

By whatever name you go by, turn to the vast perspective of that Something and wonder what it is that is wanting to be awakened in you. Open to a perspective beyond your wants, desires, habits and fears. And do it every day. Every single day. Until this, and only this, is your new normal.

 

**Quote by Baba Hari Dass

 

Guarantees

 

My husband was recently recounting a conversation he had with a practitioner, who in anticipation of re-opening their office had asked, “Would you like me to tell you how we are going to keep you safe?” To which my husband responded, “I do not require you to keep me safe.” To which I would add, “Nor is that something you could ever guarantee me.”

Safety. We all want to feel safe. It is in fact perhaps our most basic of all needs. And at its very best, it is something we cultivate within and offer without.

Being safe and feeling safe are a major source of conversation in the culture at the moment. As a matter of fact, it is something that has been brewing beneath the surface for many of us for what seems like forever. Given that, and all that is being revealed around what this means in practice (not words) it is incumbent upon all of us to understand what we are asking for, what we are being promised, and what is being justified in the name of safety.

Spoiler alert: No one can guarantee your safety. Not a parent. Not your spouse. Not the government. Not a mask, hand washing, tracing or vaccines. But by God how we want it. And who wouldn’t? This most primary of needs for safety and protection harkens back to childhood when you believed that it was possible that someone else could promise and deliver a guarantee of safety to you. And how well your safety needs were or were not met in childhood sets the stage for how you will perceive the world. For your capacity to determine what is safe, what is a threat, and what is real and imagined around both.

The first time I ever heard anyone talk on this was years ago while I was in the midst of a very intense emotional. physical and spiritually challenging training. At some point, as things were breaking down and people’s fears and woundings were being revealed, in their terror they began to find fault with the training. In their inability to be with what they were experiencing, they began to accuse the program director and staff of creating an unsafe environment. It was a deeply heated and emotional group exchange, as well as something we were all feeling and navigating in our own ways.

Much to my surprise and ultimate deep gratitude, instead of the director going into self-blame and acquiescing because someone had thrown down the safety card, she navigated a brilliant truth: That being, that no one else can guarantee your safety. That being, that when we are afraid and rattled, we will default to that child-like expectation. Instead, she let us know that what she was offering was a sacred container for people to come together, and that what you did within that space was up to you.

The root of “safe” from the Greek means “whole,” with the definition being “free from risk, danger, harm or injury.” And while there are certain practices and ways of being that we agree upon for the well-being of all, a guarantee of life without risk, danger, harm or injury can never be proffered. Nor should it be expected. For to wholly live is to live with the risk of being alive. And to demand safety, to use safety as a protocol in the ways we are using it, is to set us all up for not only failure, but to set in motion the justification of all manner of things that have absolutely nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with a lie.

Safety can be an intention. It can be honored and it can be protected. It can be respected and agreed upon. And when it comes to re-imagining the long-standing and often outdated beliefs we hold around this, I will leave you with something my husband is talking about at work. 

“Safety is a shared responsibility.”

In practice: If you would like to see how this works in your world, do not go to the adult mind that would say, “Of course I know there are no guarantees.” Instead, go below the surface, to the child, to the unconscious, to the place that gets scared. Can you sit with that? Can you feel the need, the vulnerability and the desperation for someone to pledge a certainty for you? Can you open to all of that without trying to have someone take that away for you?

And if you would like to take a deeper look around the maps of safety and danger we create in childhood, the very same ones that continue to inform or drive us as adults, I recommend a book called “Nurturing Resilience” by Kathy Kain.