Waiting To Be OK

 

“I am done waiting to be okay.” 

I spontaneously write these words down in my journal one morning. The entry follows on the heels of a particularly difficult night of sleep. One of those times when you wonder if you have even slept at all. All of this follows a week of an achy, cranky hip and a lot of anticipation around an upcoming event.

Watching my mind through the hours of no sleep, one theme emerges over and over again: If things were different I would be better. If I was sleeping, if my hip didn’t hurt and if I wasn’t worried about something, then, then, I would be OK. How everything would be right with the world and I could finally be at peace. If only all these things just weren’t happening right now.

How often are we all waiting to be OK? For something outside of us to make everything all better. The test result. The package to arrive. Another person changing. For the weather, the boss, our partner, anything and everything, to be somehow different as the prerequisite for our OK-ness.

The problem with the waiting game being, we wish our lives away. Always waiting for some other time for things to be better. Different. Never realizing that Life does not revolve around our terms and requirements for what we need to be OK. That the weather will do what the weather will do. As will our friends, families, bosses, co-workers, and at times, even our own bodies.

Because the truth is, even if we get what we believe we need to be OK, there will always be something else that will show up and upend our precarious sense of OK-ness that has been built on outside circumstances needing to line up just so.

It literally never ends. Until, of course, our lives do.

Knowing this, what if we just agreed to take Life at face value? Accepted that being here is not about us trying to make everything OK by our own standards, but is instead, about learning to be OK through it all. Through thick or thin. Through both the wanted and the unwanted. The expected and the unexpected.

But of course this takes practice. Lots of it. So best to begin before the really big things arrive. Maybe with the low stakes moments across your day. For instance, being OK if you don’t get the weather you want, the parking space or the yoga spot you covet. Or being alright with someone making a choice you don’t agree with. Or perhaps, the next time you can’t sleep, letting that be okay. Not making it mean anything other than, right now, you’re not asleep, and that even if you don’t get the rest you need, you will most certainly be OK.

Standing The Test Of Time

 

It can be so incredibly difficult these days to know what is good for you when it comes to how to take care of yourself. Should you eat the new line of fake “meats” being touted as helping to save the climate? Should you choose the latest drug promising to cure obesity? Should you consider wearing or having embedded into you the latest technology to monitor your health?

In a world moving at the speed of light when it comes to what we are being sold around health and self-care, how will we keep up? How will we determine what a human body actually, fundamentally and always needs to be healthy in the face of so many choices that may not have anything to do with real biological Truths?

As a matter of fact, to try and run down every new fad, food item or pill that hits the market would be a full time job. Basically, out of reach for most of us who are just trying to live our lives, pay our bills and raise our kids. Meaning, that most of us will never devote the time or the energy to thoroughly vet what is coming our way in this regard. This leaves us at the mercy of the commercials and other agendas trying to get us to buy or do something.

What then? Isn’t there something we can return to? A kind of infallible North Star to help us navigate far too many choices, hidden agendas and scare tactics?

I believe there is, and I think of it as “Those Things That Stand The Test Of Time.” What this means for me is looking back across history and to earlier generations to see what was naturally done in the past. Not as a way to romanticize earlier times, but as a solid foundation for determining fact from fiction when it comes to what our bodies truly need to be well. What it is we did before all the technological inventions and marketing schemes.

An easy example to work with is food. Each year, we are bombarded with tens of thousands of new and “improved” food items in our supermarkets. And while this is a great way for Big Food to claim more market share, along with the stellar profits that goes with that, is it actually good for your health to eat what they churn out? The current chronic rates of lifestyle diseases, obesity in particular, would say no. As would the food research that tells us these so-called “new and improved” food-like substances are merely a new take on highly processed ingredients created to trick your taste buds in order to get you to buy in order to create more profits for them.

Does this sound like a scenario where your health and well-being are central in the equation? If not, you are onto something and it’s called using your common sense; the main ingredient in what it is that stands the test of time.

To get even more specific, if we apply standing the test of time to our food choices, some simple questions to ask would be, “Is this something my grandmother or great grandmother would have made for her family? Would she have recognized this as food?”

In a world that loves to complicate things, one of the best ways to navigate our way through when it comes to health, or really anything for that matter, is to get simple. There is nothing more simple than common sense. Nothing more basic than looking at what has stood the test of time.

A Curated Life

 

I’m in the midst, on one particular morning, of tending to the new plants, making sauce and creating medicine when it strikes me that if I was on Instagram, if I was a so-called influencer, I would be having a very different experience.

I would have changed out of my comfy clothes and chosen a perfectly curated outfit to go with the homestead/farm feel of the moment. I would be staging my morning and positioning it all just so to give you the impression of just how perfect it all was. I would do this by taking multiple pictures from different angles with multiple filters to give you the impression of a spontaneous and unplanned moment.

In the process, I would have sacrificed all of the naturally arising peace, contentment, presence and gratitude that organically arises whenever I am in alignment with what I love best. Without the pressure to post and perform, I am connected to the abundance of the natural world and to a morning where I have the precious space I need to be with what matters most to me.

This is what is being lost in our ever so carefully curated lives: A chance to be with ourselves in a way that nourishes us. So much so that even when we choose not to take that picture, to refrain from posting, is it not what we are often thinking about even if we are not acting on it? Curated lives as a performance vehicle is so insidious now that it’s with us even when we are choosing otherwise.

What strikes me as the most disastrous, the saddest, the most dangerous even, is that we haven’t considered what we are losing each and every day as we orient ourselves ever-more to allowing the screens to mediate every moment of our existence. Desperate as we are to show others something about ourselves and willing to do so at any cost.

But only after it has all been carefully, carefully curated.

In the meantime, we don’t notice that our self-esteem is in the toilet, satisfaction in our relationships plummeting, our stress accelerating, the chase for perfection never ending, with our very existence reduced down to some glam shot.

Making The Necessary Adjustments

 

No matter what guidance I am asking for these days, I keep getting the message that this is a time for pausing and being open to making adjustments in how I do things based in reflection. As opposed to reaction.

While I feel the wisdom in this, following this sage advice can also feel at odds with the pushing out of the Spring energies that I am not only sensing all around me, but also feeling inside of me in terms of what I am called to offer into the world.

And therein lies the rub.

Is it possible to find that sweet combination of doing and being? Is it possible to stand in the presence of a world on fire and not join in? Is it possible to feel all I have to give and to to stay deeply rooted in a place beyond the demands of society?

Not only do I believe it’s possible, I know it’s necessary. A have-to in a world so star struck by the latest gimmick, hashtag, magic bullet, apocalyptic video or sensational story. We have become such a thoughtless people reacting out of our own fears and allegiance to all the wrong things. Like what the influencers, billionaires, celebrities and villains are doing. In our blindness, we have lost a connection to the necessity of pausing and reflecting; leaving us reactive, and therefore dangerous.

Dangerous because we are colluding with narratives that are at odds with our very nature and with the Nature all around us. The very same energies that tell us, There is a balance and a timing to everything. To live believing we are outside of, more to the point, above that wisdom, is to create chaos and harm through the violation of basic and non-negotiable Life principles.

All of this is happening when what we need most is wisdom born of a kind of steady, slow, thoughtful, decent and time-honored way of knowing and relating to the world. But this kind of approach doesn’t play well in a culture based in ever-increasing speed, volume and the incessant push for more and more, right now. Always right now with the insecure fear that if it doesn’t happen immediately, it’s not worth waiting for.

Or that it just won’t happen at all.

This is an illusion based in our separation from our own truest Nature and the the rules that govern the ways of the natural world. An illusion we have so easily bought into because we’ve been schooled to believe that progress looks like we should always being pushing for more. That we should let the people at the top take care of things. That we should let what comes across a screen tell us want to want. That we should just keep going along with things because this is just how it is now.

But like the Spring energies making all their adjustments to ensure the best growth possible, so can we. We can decide to take up our own lives by creating the space we need to slow down. To do less. To listen more. We can decide to question more what it is and who it is we are looking to to tell us what a good life looks and feels like.

We can do the difficult work of being honest with ourselves around what is not working in our lives as reflected by how sick, stressed and unhappy we are; using all those “bad” experiences to help us course correct into greater balance.

And it all begins by being wise enough and willing enough to pause in order to make the necessary adjustments.

Just This Moment

 

I am having one of those days where my thoughts are leaning towards anticipating negative scenarios and engaging in the “what if’s” the mind is so compelled to do. And while at this point I know enough of the machinations of the mind to not go down those rabbit holes, it still can nag away at me as it was doing on this particular day.

While I have many techniques I use to bring my mind back into balance, something happened quite naturally on this day that really struck me. After a walk with my husband where I had laid out my potential “what if’s,” we made our way over to gather eggs and look at what was happening with the starts and seeds we had recently planted.

It took no time at all for my anticipating mind to tune into something life-giving; shifting me out of a chaotic mind to one quite naturally and easily at peace. A mind at ease as it found itself immersed in the bigger picture of Life. All of this with no effort on my part, other than to be in relationship with Something Greater than myself, while spontaneously repeating over and over “Just This,” as I moved through the garden.

The “Just This” was my way of focusing only on what was right before me; whether that was the lettuce I was picking, the conversation I was having or the observations I was making of the seedlings. In effect, immersing my mind in the right now versus the “what if” future.

We so take whatever we think to be truth. As something to believe in and act on. Even when all signs point to the fact that our minds have gone off the rails with fear, anxiety and judgment. And while in this day and age there is no end to solutions for an imbalanced mind from medication to meditation, we can skip right over the most accessible and effortless of approaches to healing our minds.

Here I am referring to the natural world. To the elements and conditions and living beings that we have co-evolved with since we first appeared on the planet; our very home and the clearest reflection of who we are, where we come from and what we need.

Why would we go anywhere else to gain perspective and to ground ourselves in Truth?

Because we have been conditioned to believe that our well-being resides in a screen, a pill, more stuff, more prestige, more “likes,” etc. We have come to experience ourselves as separate from, and therefore not needing the support and the tutelage of what The Earth has to offer us. Unfortunately, many of us have strayed so far and for so long, we have come to see the natural world as foreign, dark and scary. An enemy as opposed to an ally.

But here’s the thing. We are Nature herself. We are created and maintained by the same force. To know this is to tap into the good news that even if we have forgotten, even if we never learned to begin with, all we have to do is to put ourselves in the Presence of the natural world for her to do her work on us.

So find a reason every single day to linger, even for one minute, somewhere outside. Go without agenda. Go and be a listener. Go and allow yourself to get lost in the breeze, a bird singing, some fragrance, a starry night, the feel of rain on your skin. And say to yourself, “Just This.”

 

Staying Human

 

I’m just back from a training in Ayurveda, the 5000 year old Indian tradition of health and healing. The focus was on the balance of the mind from an Ayurvedic perspective, with much of it centered around understanding ourselves at the level of our most basic, elemental Nature comprised of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space.

In other words, the things that make up not just a human being, but all of Nature. With the understanding that unless and until we see ourselves through the lens of what we are made of and how to be in harmony with that, we will suffer. That our mind will be in a state of suffering because we won’t know who we are on the most fundamental of levels. Meaning, we will seek out all the wrong things.

Juxtapose this longstanding Ayurvedic knowing that to depart from who we are and what we are made of is to be ill, against the headline I saw when I got back: New research reveals that touch may help with anxiety.

My immediate thought was, How sad it is that we now need research to justify hugs. My second thought was, This is another example of just how far we have strayed from our very existence, caught up as we are in the world of the non-human. In other words, the machines.

We have truly fallen into a dystopian “reality” where we need research outside of ourselves to prove to us that we need touch. And then we wonder why we are not doing so well. While our inflated egos might say we are the most intelligent of any civilization, interestingly enough, we find ourselves on the brink of personal and societal destruction. And not because of some outside agent like a virus or a nuclear bomb, but because of our own denial of, and departure from, our truest Nature.

We see this in the fact that despite all the technological “advances” we have never been sicker, fatter or lonelier. We have never been more at odds with the Natural world, our own bodies and the bodies of others.

We have never been more confused, child-like and afraid of Life itself in the forms of the weather, bugs, animals and all things non-man-made. And therefore out of our control. Because we keep believing that it’s just because we haven’t found the right technological fix, and that it is the next generation of technology that will save us, we miss all the answers living right under our very noses.

The answers to what ails us being the breathing of fresh, outside air. Or the way it feels for your feet to be barefoot in the earth while you feel the joy of the sun on your un-slathered skin. Or how about the experience of being in wide-open spaces where there is not a man-made thing in sight.

None of this is complicated, and it’s all built right into our human-ness. So what’s the rub? It’s that we have forgotten what we never wanted to forget: What it actually is to be human. We are living as if we can bypass that. We are living as if we do not fall under the requirements of our deepest Nature. And we do so at great peril; the evidence of which is all around us for all to see.

Sometimes it takes getting so far away from what is real and true in order to see what is, in fact, real and true. Then it becomes the path of remembering. An intentional turning back towards your own skin and what it most hungers for. But of course, that would require that you stop being overly enamored with the world of the machines, believing them to be the highest of our expression. And instead, become entranced with your very own Nature in the form of your own body and what it needs.

What Are You Following?

 

I was taking a yoga class this week when the teacher posed the question: “Are you following your thoughts or are you following your breath?” In other words, are you chasing the thought patterns you have been ruminating on for literally years? Or are you here now, in this moment, breath by precious breath?

Where we put our attention holds the very key to life on earth being a kind of heaven or living hell. And while many of us believe and live as if what is going on outside of us, what others are doing, an epidemic, what other countries or the politicians are up to, is what creates either heaven or hell for us, it’s just not true.

What is true is that what you are habitually putting your attention on, especially when it comes to what you are thinking about, has the power to bring you everything you never wanted. Or everything you ever wanted.

How could it be any other way?

Your thoughts are what create the words that come out of your mouth. They create which actions you will take on any given day. They stand behind the energy and momentum of how you do and live and believe and love and hope and fear and eat and negotiate and relate and…

For instance, if you believe that your medical system, religion or political party has the lock on the truth, you will use your words to condemn those who don’t line top with your narrative. If you believe that the body is a machine that breaks down easily and requires a mechanic to keep it in line, you will never be open to how your thoughts and your health are one and the same.

To decide for heaven, in other words all those things you most yearn for, is to become intimately aware of, and responsible for, every single thought you think. This is a big job. Especially in the beginning when it can feel like a circus on crack inside your own mind.

That’s why it can be so instructively sane to break down the thousands and thousands of thoughts you have each and every day into a binary choice; allowing you to step out of the oblivion or the tug-of-war relationship you have with your own mind and all of its unchecked thoughts.

Try this. Get in the habit of catching yourself throughout the day by asking, What am I thinking about right now? Once you are aware of the specific content, make a down and dirty assessment by wondering whether this thought creates a sense of safety or danger within you. Drop all the content and tune into the way this thought make you feel about yourself, others and the world.

And then make a choice.

If this is not a thought you want to harbor, put your attention on something else. Follow your own breath, look at the sky, smell something delicious. To choose where to put your own attention is to make the decision to stop following a thought that brings dis-ease, and to instead choose for a little heaven here on Earth.

What The World Is Really Here To Give You

 

“The world is not here to make you happy. It’s here to make you conscious.” I heard these words spoken last week by Eckhart Tolle, renowned teacher of Presence. It came at exactly the right moment for me as the words broke through the haze of being lost in a deep well of grief.

I am no stranger to grief and sorrow. They have been traveling companions of mine for my whole life. Grief over the ways of the world. Sorrow over missed and lost connections in personal relationships. Sadness over how we treat ourselves and others.

At times, I have felt broken and victimized by how grief-stricken I have been over the ways our children’s innocence is being violated via the screens. I have been filled with sorrow over how we allow our lives to be gobbled up by distractions. And I have been heart-broken over how often the wrong things are in charge; despite the obvious destruction they bring.

This and more is what I have been revisiting of late, being “stuck in a grief loop,” as one of my practitioners so aptly put it.

But when I heard Eckhart’s words, something in me snapped to attention. Something in me knew immediately the Truth of those words. And all at once, I could see that the lifelong suffering around the grief and sorrow I have always felt has been not just because of how devastatingly sad all these things are, but because I have been expecting the world to take this sadness away from me by being other than it is.

Now, I know that our minds might go immediately to Well, what sane person wouldn’t want the madness of the world to end? What sane person wouldn’t want more respect for life? 

This is not to negate that healthy yearning. But it is to point out that when we refuse to acknowledge how things are, not how we want them to be, we suffer; fighting in vain like a fish on a line.

To see that there is something greater at play than even your most heartfelt and noble expectations of the world is to step into an entirely new game. It is to open to your spiritual nature and the real reason you are here. Which is to grow in consciousness. Which is to walk the path of remembering who you really are, and why you are here.

When I look at my life through this lens, I can say with certainty that this is so. For each time the world has not made me happy, and I have chosen to let it grow me, I have changed. And always for the better. Every unfairness and disappointment that the world has ever delivered to me, a blessing.

I guess it’s time for me to step out of the grief loop I’ve been in.

The Things In Life That Are Too Big For Us

 

This week, I heard someone use the phrase, “Too big to address and too big to walk away from,” in reference to one of the big issues we as a people are facing. I had never heard that expression before, but boy did it land for me; so aptly describing an experience many of us are having when we look out into the destruction and chaos of a world gone mad.

Too big to address and too big to walk away from.

At first glance, it may feel like being between a rock and a hard place. Nowhere to go. Nothing you can do. I think this is where many of us live these days. Stuck in limbo. Recognizing that a lot needs to be addressed, challenged and changed, but feeling like it is far too big for us to have an impact.

So we fall into despair. Apathy. Frustration. Cynicism.

Or maybe we throw all of ourselves at an issue. Working overtime. Dedicating ourselves to some external cause that we pour our heart and soul into. Doing more than our share and sometimes feeling resentful that others don’t care as much. Or are not pulling their weight.

In the face of the world’s “issues” it can be so easy to fall into “this is just the way things are now” or to kick into high gear and start trying to fix everything. But what if the issues that are too big to address and too big to walk away from are actually a visioning opportunity, a call from our very own soul? One that requires we go into our very own lives and handle our big issues, before we turn our attention to the world.

This inner anchoring in the face of world overwhelm grounds us and give us access to deeper ways of knowing beyond the knee-jerk reactions so typical of us when we confront big, scary issues. We need some kind of inner referencing because the truth is, neither apathy nor overwork are the path of wisdom. The way of thoughtful action. The way of understanding that always, and in all ways, anything out there big enough to be a problem, needs to be known in here, inside each one of us, first.

Otherwise, we add to the chaos and the confusion as we bring our own blind spots, fears and agendas to the situation at hand. To go into the bigness of your very own issues is to understand, in seed form, the big issues the world currently faces.

If this is so, it begs the question, “What in your life feels too big to ignore, and simultaneously too big to handle? We’ve all got one. That core issue that just won’t go away. The one that seems to be at the root of everything else. The one we work really hard to cover up.

Do you know what yours is?

I guarantee you something: Figure out what yours is, along with all of its ins and outs, and you will have a gold standard template for addressing the biggest and most intractable world issues. The ones we can’t seem to solve. The ones that overwhelm and frighten us the most.

Try it. Look to your own life. What are you pretending not to know?

Use this question whenever you meet up with your big life issues and watch how not only your life begins to change, but you start to have a much clearer sense of how to be with what is too big to address and too big to walk away from when it comes to the world at large.

 

A More Honest Existence

 

After returning home from being away for Thanksgiving, I find myself naturally drawn to cleaning out the refrigerator, food drawers and cabinets. Then I take the cleaning out and organizing into my office and bedroom closet. This goes on all week. It feels good.

In the process, I feel a deep connection to people from other time periods who would be clearing out the previous year in order to make space for storing what was needed most for the winter to come. A kind of necessary and life-saving taking stock if you wanted to survive a long, hard winter. “Taking sensible precautions” as I heard someone say recently, to ensure you and yours had what you needed.

In a world of “anything and everything” at your fingertips 24/7, all of the stuff being just a click away, the necessary practice of taking stock to survive is no longer a lived reality for many of us. But it should be. In fact, it really, really needs to be.

Why?

Because whether we think we need it or not in modern day existence, taking stock provides a deep reality check. One that promises to keep us honest and in alignment with the Truth of existence.

So even though taking stock in this way may not, at the moment, be an issue of imminent survival as it was for our ancestors, there is something so fundamental and so very necessary about lightening up in a world accelerating at a faster rate than any human being has ever lived through before.

It stands to reason that if we are going to successfully, joyfully and honestly align with the speed of change happening, whether we like the pace or not, we must be willing to jettison the stuff. I include here not just the material things we accumulate (often unnecessarily) but also all the ideas, beliefs and habits that keep us trapped in denser and slower versions of the reality that stands before us; both what is possible and what is required of the times we find ourselves in.

This is not easy. We love to cling to the familiar, to what has always brought us comfort. Whether that is actually so or not. I would argue that a great deal of the stuff we accumulate has very little to do with real comfort, or survival, for that matter. Instead, being more about living on the receiving end of too much advertising and too much belief in something external giving us what we truly need in order to be okay.

I began writing this piece on the day of the full moon. Full moons are often associated with releasing and letting go. But in order to do this, we have to first be willing to look at things as they actually are. Then we must be willing to ask ourselves some very hard questions when we see that maybe, just maybe, what we have bought and bought into, isn’t working for us.

I know this can feel like a lot, but it promises a lot to get clear about our lives and how we are living. So instead of focusing on what is too hard to get clear on and let go of, what if you focused on that clear light feeling you get after cleaning out the closet or the garage or the basement? That feeling of greater spaciousness and inner ease when you let go of what no longer serves.

That sense of freedom and inner order that you experience after the physical clearing out is something that also translates into more room for an expanded awareness of possibility, the Mystery and a greater sense of preparedness around how to be in the world in these times. Add to this the vow we often make, after taking the time and energy to clear out the stuff to be more conscientious about not filling the space back up, and you have yourself  a commitment to choose differently from now on. More intentionally.

If this resonates, you could add a little affirmation into the mix to make it all so much more powerful and likely to stick. For instance, “I freely release what I no longer need in order to make room for a more honest existence.”