Big Choices

 

Years ago, I did a training with a doctor who was steeped in the indigenous healing ways of his native culture. He told a story to highlight how sidetracked we can get in Life around Truth. According to his tradition, there is an evil spirit by the name of Iktomi. It’s diabolical power? To get you to believe the wrong thing, and then act on it. To quite literally, make the wrong choices based on false and misleading assumptions.

When I look back over the past year plus, and look for a pattern to help explain what has been happening for all of us on a macro level, I would say this: On every single level of life, to the person, we have got some very big choices to make as we step forward. The first one being, What frames of reference will we choose when encountering the world as it currently is? Next, How will we choose to live with ourselves and with each other? Which is of course, based on how we perceive what stands before us. In other words, what will we choose to believe and what choices will be born of those beliefs?

We can continue to approach the world with out-of-date narratives; unconsciously and willfully continuing to do what we have always done. Or…

We can begin to question. For if you look closely enough, everything that is before us now, has already been there for a very, very, long time. Many would say, too long. The depression, anxiety, and despair that has recently skyrocketed has been quietly devastating us for years now. The chronic, life-style related illnesses that are driving the death rates, have been stealing lives for decades. The soul-sucking and heart-robbing consequences of children spending too much time in front of a screen, have been insidiously, and unfortunately agreed to, long before a culture decided to close schools. The growing disparity through recent job losses, between the have’s and the have-nots, has been a condoned social structure for longer than we can admit. A broken medical system that can’t keep up with cases because it does not possess the medicine we need, is the very same one whose death throes have been spinning off harm for far longer than we should have ever tolerated. And then of course, there are the “Big Everythings” that have changed how we live, relate, and understand what it means to be human. Big Tech. Big Pharma. Big Money. Big Marriage Between Industry and Government. All of which have been controlling a greater portion of our lives recently, are the same unregulated and un-thoughtful industries that have been moving in this direction for years.

One little virus has revealed, exposed, and unmasked the very sickest and the most inhumane in us. So, is it a devastation? Or an opportunity? Most important of all, what are we going to do about it? Will we hunker down, praying someone else will make this go away? Will we desperately choose whatever we are fed to sidestep our own responsibilities in this? Will we continue to feed our minds on fear justifying why we get to do what we are doing?

Or will we rise up? Demanding that money not be the driving force behind the decisions being made on our behalf. Refusing to accept any longer “medicine” that harms. Taking back childhood from predatory interests that do not care about their well-being on any level. Finding our own voice and being willing to respect that in another. Regardless of, and maybe even despite, what that other voice is labelled as.

These are big times. Very, very big times. But not in the way we have been told. For as hard as it is to be going through what we have been going through, that would be easy compared to the personal choices that sit before each and every one of us. That being, to decide what seems fair and life-affirming TO YOU. To get clear on what health is and how best to support it. To stand for what is worthy of your precious attention. To put your voice into the conversations being had that impact us all.

But here’s the really hard part. Deciding to take the long and arduous journey of coming to know your own mind. Not what you have been told and sold. But the thoughts and beliefs that are uniquely yours; having been carefully and painstakingly cultivated by deeply questioning all that you see, hear, and think. A questioning that dives below the constant noise, cultural messaging and imagined fears, until it comes out on the other side to the place where you know your own mind as yours and yours alone. Claiming this noble and awe-inspiring power instead of allowing yourself to be a by-product of a paradigm that cares not for you.

Biological Truths

 

These are curious, confusing, and even dangerous times to be living in when it comes to the truth. In a world that is being described as a post-truth era, it is time we chose for something else. It is time to say we have had enough. Enough of political agendas, for-profit motives, fear-driven mandates, and control by the few, that have got absolutely nothing to do with the health and well-being of a life.

But where can we go? What truths can we tap into that truly are in the best interests of Life itself? And are there some Universal Truths that transcend the times, fads, opinions and agendas? Yes. It’s called your body and your breath.

Swami Kripalu, the Master Yogi who inspired the yoga lineage of which I am a teacher, practiced something called Sanatana Dharma. The Way of Eternal Truth. Where the practitioner, through practices focused on body and breath, comes into direct experience of Reality. As it really is. No filters. No preferences. No hidden agendas. Bias suspended. This becomes, as they say, guide, guru and god when it comes to the Truth of being alive.

This is the opposite of what we typically encounter where many of us are looking to sources outside of ourselves to tell us what to feel, what to put on and in our body, and now through “social currency,” how to behave.This only works because of how many of us are so disconnected from our very own bodies. This is dangerous not only in terms of health outcomes, for we do not care for what we do not value, there are also major sovereignty issues at play here. As in, if you are not inhabiting your own body, there are plenty of agendas and mandates that will.

But the Truth is, your body is your proving ground. It is the home of your soul and psyche. It is the only place where you can experience the world from. If you are not fully connected and fully embodied, the transmissions and signals of your inner world, along with information from the outer world, will be lost to you. Therefore, you will be lost to yourself. Victim to things that have got nothing to do with the real needs of a human life.

Like your very own breath. Like how without a continuous supply, your cells will go into survival mode. Can we still be alive on reduced breath to the body? We can. But not without consequence in both the short and long term. Have you felt it in yourself? The shortness of breath? The dizziness? The mental agitation? The headaches? The lack of clarity? The laboring? The sleep troubles? This does not even include the more “invisible” effects on the immune system, nervous system, cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

When does the cure become more deadly than the disease?

Learn to inhabit your body. Make your breath your companion throughout the day. Pay attention when something hurts. Don’t tell yourself a story about why it is okay to keep doing what you are doing. Feel closely into what changes when the breath is free, and when it is obstructed. Learn to take your cues from the inside. No matter what the outside insists upon. Be your own personal experiment into Biological Truth.

 

Each Other

 

The air is cold and crisp. The sky clear blue. New fallen snow sparkling everywhere. I am where I most want to be; out on a run with the person I most want to be with. Pure perfection. Except for one thing. I feel like shit. My legs are heavy. My mood is murky. My motivation and energy level barely enough to keep me going.

How did I get here? By violating myself because that’s what I thought I needed to do to stay in belonging.

It all started innocently enough the night before when we had our neighbors over for dinner. They brought a bottle of home-made wine. Now, at this point in my life, I rarely drink, but it seemed worth the experience, so I accepted truly the most minuscule amount. The first few sips were great. But then I was done. Only some part of me would not let myself be done. So I took a few more sips. And that was all it took.

Now I could argue that it is ridiculous that a grown woman can only handle a few sips of alcohol, but that would be missing the point. That being, that my body and mind responded the way that it did out on the run, and for the rest of the day, because I overrode what I actually wanted in order to do what I thought I needed to do to keep in connection with others. I saw my mind as I took those extra sips, believing I was doing it because I did not want to hurt another person’s feelings. But below even that was the fear that I wouldn’t somehow belong. That I would be seen in an unflattering light. And that is what we often do, make it be about hurting or offending the other person, when in fact, we are terrified to be on the “outs” with another.

I am going on my sixth year of writing this blog. When I think back, I see some themes that regularly show up. One of them is life with other people. Specifically, how it is that we can be the truth of who we are while being in satisfying relationship with others. It is something that I daily work on, write about, and contemplate; having become some kind of lifelong puzzle and pursuit of mine to figure out.

I do it because I was raised in a family, in a time, and in a culture that did not include who I was. Did not recognize or support what I really and actually needed, and so I became what others wanted of me. It left a big, painful imprint. One that I thought was exclusive to me because for the longest time it didn’t seem like others were struggling with this. It seemed to me that others were just fine making concessions and leaving off parts of themselves in order to fit in.

Lately, I see that many of us either do not even know that it is happening, or that we are too afraid to exert ourselves for fear of losing the relationship, being shamed, or being accused of being a problem. As I have written over the past year, this terrible dilemma has gotten worse. For me, culminating today in a piece I heard on NPR, where a health professional was describing people who were getting the vaccine as being on the V.I.P. List; vaccine injected people who were going to receive “the promise of future privileges.”

My god, what have we become that we would do this to one another?

As far as I am concerned, one of the central Truths of human existence is to come to know who you truly are, and learn how to live that openly and courageously in the company of others. And that, and here is the difficult yet necessary part, that who and what you are is honored and met; by both yourself and others.

But as long as we are creating V.I.P. lists, and ways to make some people “in” according to mandates and fear-based standards, the precious expression of Life as it runs through each and every one of us will never happen. Why? Because we will never dare to not be on that list.

Please everyone, learn to live what truly makes sense to you, and let us honor the same in others in ways large and small. Even if we don’t understand it. Even if we fear it. We are all subject to violating ourselves for the exact wrong things just to belong. Let’s not do one more thing to each other in this regard.

 

“No man, for any considerable time, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitudes without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true.”¬†Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

Listening For Truth

 

I love winter. The stillness. The quiet. The bare reality of it all. No frills. No demands. Other than, of course, to go in. To slow down. To do less. To tend to the roots. To descend into Truth.

This is a tall order in a world intent on doing. Replicating. Proving and demanding. Keeping up with it all. A tall order in a world that does not know how to make use of the sacred pause of the wisdom season of winter. And it shows. It is there in our rush to solve things without quieting down long enough to understand the full scope of what stands before us. It is in the frenzied fear-based energy that is intent on fixing, without fully understanding. Resulting in a kind of overwhelm that imposes solutions that have little chance to work because they come from a less than complete assessment.

This week, I recommitted myself to letting go of the places where I unnecessarily fight in my own mind. The places where I bang my head up against the proverbial brick wall. The places that burn. The places where I relentlessly spin my own wheels. Instead, vowing to use the noise and the chaos of the world to drive me ever deeper within. Deeper down into the long tap root of my very existence. The place that just is.

That is winter’s influence. A deeply distilled, spacious and endless depth. A place below the confusion, and ill-fated action. A place of unity, wholeness, and natural, effortless resolve. Try it. Sit down. Even if just for a minute. Breathe easily and naturally. When you feel ready, breathe your breath down, down, down. As if your legs were roots that extended deep into the Earth. Down, down, down. Sink lower and lower. Just this. Only this.

This is where Truth lives. When you get there, say to yourself,¬†“Within me, beyond all that rises and falls, Truth remains.”*

 

* Sacred Rebel Oracle by Alana Fairchild.

Blog inspired by a friend who reminded me “To listen for Truth.”