The Limitations of Certainty Seeking

 

A friend of mine introduced me to the phrase, “certainty seeking.” It means just what it sounds like.

While it is so natural as a human being to want a high degree of certainty guaranteed, when it comes to how things in Life will go, it is an illusion. As a species we seem to be the only ones on the planet who not only do not know that there are no such guarantees, we go so far as to demand that it be so; compounding an already dangerous and misguided notion.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what to do. While terrifying to hold at first, this orientation to Life is a true one. A real one. One that lines us up with reality, thereby allowing us to be with things from a clear starting point. Meaning, we are much more likely to respond with accuracy and in a right-sized manner.

This past week, I had a surprising turn of events in that suddenly my back was spasming with such intensity that I could barely walk. I could not take a deep breath. Nor could I get my pants on by myself. In the midst of the worst of it, my husband found me sobbing, “I don’t know what to do.” All of my usual approaches and remedies had fallen short. Nothing was working.

Later, working with one of my practitioners, he uttered the phrase “trapped vulnerability,” which initiated another round of sobbing. There it was. The physical pain was nothing compared to the deep existential vulnerability of being alive that I was up against. Now the question became, “How am I going to be with this?”

What has unfolded over this week is that my deepest vulnerability is bound to my deepest power. That giving way to vulnerability and uncertainty puts me back into alignment with Truth. The doorway in being, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what is going to happen.” It is from this place that I create an opening. A portal if you will, where things I never thought of have a chance to reveal themselves. Where unimaginable support has a chance to come in. And where the most unbearable pain turns into Strength. Possibility. Healing.

We are living in times where a kind of dogma of certainty has settled over us like a plague; settling in us and between us. The message? This, and only this is what you are allowed to believe in. If you do, you are guaranteed a certain outcome. And while to many of us this certainty can feel so reassuring, it is illusion. One that is robbing us of Truth and Possibility.

To believe that another can offer you the certainty you seek is a fool’s errand. An existential foreclosure. Worst of all, somewhere deep inside, you know it is not true. To trade in this lie is to set yourself against the forces and the powers of the Universe. The very same One, which never has and never will, offer you that type of guarantee.

The Future of Health

 

Not long ago, I saw a commercial which seems to sum up where we are, and where we are headed when it comes to health. Unless, that is, enough of us decide for something else. Something more True. More Real. More Life-affirming. More, well, human.

The commercial opens with the following tagline: “The future of health is on your wrist.” We are then shown a woman operating at warp speed in her life, while being continuously reminded by the device on her arm to “Relax.” Then it tells her to “Run.” Then “Swim.” Then do “Tae Kwon Do.” Then “Dance.” I watch in horror as she manically leaps from one instruction to the next; all directed by a tiny machine she is wearing on her arm.

If this weren’t so alarming, it would be funny. Saturday Night Live parody funny.

But it’s not funny. Not when we consider how many of us take health advice from people trying to sell us something, and whose mixed agenda includes delivering messages of “health and well-being” while bolstering their the bottom line by keeping us ever insecure and doubtful about our own ability to go it without them. It becomes even less funny when we break down the messages that are being taken up by viewers regarding what it means to be healthy. Images that are telling us that instructions from a piece of technology are what we need to be listening to. That somehow we will not know what we need, or what to do, and that it is best to outsource that knowing to something non-human.

In our infatuation with, and now indoctrination into, all things technological in order to stay healthy, we are losing the main and central ingredient to health and well-being. That being, it is built in and is predicated on a personal knowing born of experience and attention.The “knowing” of which I speak is inborn, and yet it requires both cultivation and protection. It does not take its cues from a commercial. Nor does it require a machine in order to stay well. In fact, the abdication of this personal knowing is what is at the heart of a deep and dangerous disconnect from the natural and healing wisdom of our bodies.

The future of health would do well to consider not only what is presently happening in health care, but to take a good, hard look at how it is that we have arrived in a place where so many of us are so sick and so disconnected from the most basic principles of how to care for a human body. For before we can talk about the future, we must weed out what is currently not working. What is outdated. Misleading. Harmful even.

Do you want to know what the real future of health is? IT IS YOU. It is your inner and personal knowing restored, trusted, and acted upon. And it is so, so basic. As basic as paying closer attention to yourself. For instance, how often do you see something advertised that is claiming to be able to improve your health, and that you jump at because you think either this will be easy, or because “they” must know better. Watch the impulse to outsource your health and well-being while getting into the habit of checking in with yourself, asking, “Is that really what a human being needs to be well, or am I being sold something?”

 

What Actually Makes Us Better?

 

I am driving on the Mass Pike recently when I see a billboard that simultaneously blows my mind, saddens and outrages me, and brings me right up against the world we are living in. It goes like this: “Springfield is better with Cannabis.”

What The Bleep Are We Doing?

What is happening to us that we would even make a statement like this? Never mind proudly putting it up on a highway for all to see. Including our children. Is this what we want to be boasting about for our communities? Are we so desperate that anything that brings us money is touted as something great? No matter what it is? Are we so overwhelmed and compliant that the best we can hope for is to medicate entire communities into oblivion so that we will not notice what is happening to us?

And what about our children? What message do we send them when we equate drugs with making things better? Especially in cities like Springfield, where like many large cities, they are already ravaged by the ills of poverty, drug abuse, and disenfranchisement. Core societal issues that must be faced and resolved before any city can claim its Greatness. This one example alone exemplifies just how disposable we have come to accept that certain communities are.

Truly, the absolute disregard and disrespect for what makes us great, is staggering.

Like so many things in our world, we are not thinking this one through. Opting instead to take the very, very short view. As in, a populace numbed out? Yes. Coffers filled for some? Sure. But Great? I don’t think so. Not even close. 

Watch closely the words that are being used by others to describe the state of our world, and what it is that we should want and can expect. And then ask yourself, “Is this actually as good, and even great, as it gets?” If it’s not, do not comply. Not in your mind. Not in your words. Not in your actions.

 

 

Destruction and Creation

 

All around us, destruction reigns supreme. Things are breaking down, and coming apart at the seams. On any given day, there is yet another news story about what is coming to an end. Yet another personal story, yours or someone close to you, about some devastating life experience. For most of us, that spells out only one thing: pain and suffering. And while we will all have our individual reactions to what we do not want destroyed (fear, grief, anger, apathy, etc.) any of those reactions, while normal, is missing the boat. Completely.

Years ago, when I first began to reframe how I looked at the happenings of my life, I was obsessed with a tape series by Caroline Myss. I would pop one in and go for long, long walks or runs. I would sob, or rail, or be inspired, all depending on the day and what it was that I was listening to. But always, I would come back to one essential place: I did not need to be a victim any longer. What was happening (or had happened) was not being done to me. I had a choice.

This way of being was new to me, so it was moving to hear her talk about a man, who in one short day, lost everything; his wife, his business, his home, his long-term friend. Instead of crumbling, he got down on his knees, speaking to God for the first time in a long time, and basically said, “You must be trying to get my attention. What do you want me to know?” He then went on to use that level of surrender as his guiding force as he began to carve out the life he was most meant to live. All based on being open as opposed to victimized. As opposed to taking years to make use of the experiences Life was offering him, he turned it around in a day!

We in the West we have a very destructive relationship to destruction. Maybe we see things ending as as a failure, or somehow unfair; believing we are entitled to the ego’s version of Life. Collectively, we seem to feel as though we have a right to destroy in order to get whatever we want. Drunk with lust for power, greed, and control we do great harm to ourselves and others. But if you follow Universal Law, destruction is one natural and essential part of the Creation-Death-Rebirth cycle of Life. All the animals, plants and insects know this. As does the sun and the moon. The Celts and the traditions of Yoga know this. As do all indigenous people.

For anything to be created and to remain, something must die, at some point.

If we are to Create, individually and collectively, what we are truly worthy of, we must be willing to let go of all that we are not. Of all that is depleting, obscuring and distorting. Of all that has run its course. This is not something another can choose for you. Nor is it found in a catchy meme or spiritual bypass. To willingly allow something to go that you have been, or believed, for a long time, is nothing short of a herculean effort. Unless, of course, you cease to struggle, and just hand it all over to Something More than you.

If you are struggling, ask the same question that man asked: “What do you want me to know?” And then, hardest of all, LISTEN. Deeply. Agree within yourself that Life must be trying to show you something.

To Whom Do You Belong?

 

Figuring out to what and to whom I belong has long played a central role in my life. In my early years, there was only one choice: Conform to belong. To not conform was to be left without emotional connection. It was to be penalized. When I hit my teenage years, I had had enough, and so I ceased to conform. I rebelled, hard, against what never felt right to me to begin with. Though this left me on the outs with a parent, I kept going in an attempt to break from what undermined who I authentically was. At the time, I thought I didn’t care what they thought. But I did. So, even though some part of me needed the fight, the boundary, the definition, rebelling against conforming never got me what I needed because I was still defining myself against what I didn’t want. Still trying to belong from the outside in. Still on the outside of a kind of belonging that made any sense to me.

Then came the years that I thought I would try and go it alone. That I would keep myself at a distance from belonging; having come to the conclusion that being in relationship meant I had to negotiate myself in ways that felt harmful to me. That in order to belong, I had to leave really important parts of myself behind. Or at least, in hiding. While this represented another layer in the evolution of my belonging odyssey, in the end, this wasn’t the way to go either. Sure, there were things I didn’t have to negotiate, but there were also important and essential experiences missing.

It was only when I began to turn back towards myself (perhaps for the very first time in my life) that I started to discover who I really was and what I actually needed in belonging. It was a new and vastly unexplored territory to connect with something deep inside me that had nothing to do with my ideas about what I thought I needed to do to belong. This journey has been decades in the making, and continues still, even as I write about this. But at this point, I am so in. Why? Because it has taught me many, many valuable lessons about what it means to balance the Truth of who I am, while belonging in ways that equally support that, and simultaneously, contribute to the Greater Good.

This seems like an unresolvable paradox to many of us. That we actually get to be who we are, and belong. Without negotiation of what is most central to us. We believe this because most of us have been taught and conditioned to believe you either have to choose for yourself (and be selfish and alone) or choose to belong (and give up who you are and what you need). Nary shall the two meet in most people’s world view. And so we usually hole up on one side or the other of the equation of autonomy and belonging.

But here it is, you cannot belong to anyone or anything else until you firmly and completely belong to yourself. First. This is not easy to do. Our most deep-seated, and often unconscious feelings, about belonging go all the way back to being babies and young children where in order to literally survive, we had to belong. No. Matter. What. That meant we instinctively did whatever it took to stay connected to those around us; whether it was good for us and what we needed, or not. Now, as adults, what we think belonging means, and what we believe we must do to belong, has its roots in the minds of infants and babies. In other words, preverbal, and below the reasoning of the grown-up mind.

That is why it can feel so hard to get back to. Or why it is that we do not even recognize it, or feel like we have a choice.That is why it feels so necessary and so compelling to keep belonging in the less than satisfying, and even harmful, ways that we do. How we belong now is what we felt like we had to do back then. What this means is, our very ideas around survival are tied to belonging. From that stage of mind, it would be dangerous to not fit in. The desperate need, often against our better judgment or even our own health, to compromise and negotiate ourselves away to keep from being judged, abandoned, aggressed upon, or ostracized, has its origins in the past, and its expression in the present.

Which brings us to the times of Co-vid. Yes, we are back here again. For to ignore what is being played out on the main stage, would be to deny both how things have gotten derailed, and what it actually is that can bring us back on track. Meaning, we must be willing, each of us, to look at how what it means to belong has been commandeered; centering around outward behaviors that we do or do not do. A kind of “social currency” that we garner, or not, through following a mandate.

This is dangerous to not only personal autonomy, but to your ability to bring a healthy sense of who you are to the group. For the Truth is, we do not belong to other’s expectations of us. Not to their demands, mandates or ideas. We belong to Something much, much greater than that. To begin to question what belonging means to you is to do the work of the Ages. It is to intentionally separate yourself from group think in order to find the Truth within, that you then offer back out as the very foundation of True Belonging.

If this makes any sense to you, begin to notice yourself more closely in relationship. Where do you sell out? Why? Be gentle as this is the work of retelling the little one in you a new and updated version of a story you have long held. Not unlike when a child finds out for the first time, there is no Santa Claus. In that noticing, when you come upon that place where you are locked in an old pattern around what it means to belong, either fighting for your right to be or acquiescing your life in order to fit in, say to yourself, “I belong to Life as it runs through me and from whence it came. It is safe to know this.”

P.S. If you are looking for more structured support in distinguishing between your True Self and what the culture expects of you in order to fit in, check out The Way of Integrity: Finding The Path To Your True Self by Martha Beck.

Everything We Need

I wake this morning to the call of the crows, and even though I am rising later than they would normally be around, there they are. Three of them. Arranged in a little triangle. Three is a number of balance and completion. It signifies past, present, and future. The triangle is the strongest shape in construction.

My day is off to a great start. Why? Because I am listening. Listening to more than my fears and conditioning. Listening to something other than the self-imposed limitations that plague me. Listening to the Truth of the Universe as spoken by The Natural World.

The animals always serve as a harbinger, or a reminder, or a confirmation of something for me. This morning I am thinking about expressing more of myself through the work I do as I first lay eyes on the crows. I take their presence as confirmation and reminder. I am on the right path, and I no longer need live with outdated versions about what people are going to do with me if I challenge their world view.

And then, it gets better. Out on a run, I encounter a doe and her fawn on the road right at the moment I am thinking about the progression each one of us is on in our own lives. That we are all in different stages of development, and that all stages are to be respected and honored.

And then, it get even better. As I am running back towards my house, there is a cyclist broken down on the side of the road. For those of you who know my road, you know he is miles in either direction of help. I ask him if he needs anything, to which he responds, “I have everything I need. It’s just that right now, it’s catastrophic.” To which I respond, “Just like being in the world we are living in.”

And there it is, we have everything we need to be healthy. We have everything we need to solve things with other people and nations. We have everything we need to live in harmony with the Earth. And we have everything we need for everyone’s needs to be met and for their greatest potential to be expressed. The question is, will we do it? Will we each and every one of us make the shifts we need to make? Or will we continue to create catastrophes to wake us up out of our own self-imposed fogs?

This is not easy to do, and it takes time. But if we are committed, little by little, and in great leaps and bounds, we can find ourselves there. If you are willing, try my new 10% practice for anything you are ready to shift in your life. It looks like this: When you are full, leave that last bite on the plate. When you are moving your body, go a little stronger, a little more, or a little more unusual to challenge yourself. When you get a sense inside that you can’t prove, but you know to be legitimate, see if you can act on it, or at least keep it in mind. If you are always talking, be more quiet, and if you are always holding back in conversation, step forward. Go to bed a little earlier, turn your phone off at the dinner table, do whatever needs changing in your life in increments of 10%, and watch what happens.

The Great Divide

 

Years ago, I was deeply struggling around how to live a life that made sense to me when it came to taking care of my health, and the health of my family. It was often very challenging to be making different choices around the food we were eating, and the medicine we were using, and not using, in a world that values the cheap, the quick, and the maintenance of the medical and pharmaceutical status quo. I was trying to find my footing around how to see what I was seeing and know what I was knowing, in order to stand for what felt like health to me, in the face of dissenting, and sometimes very vocal, critical opinions.

Without fighting. Without judging. Without acquiescing to what felt harmful and lacking in foresight to me.

So I went to Source. In meditation, I asked for help. The immediate, clear, and resounding message that came through was, “Nothing that separates.” It broke me. And it broke the internal ping-pong match of a struggle that I often found myself in when it came to standing for what I believed while being in the presence of another’s derision, frustration, and even anger. For you see, I never had any doubt about the choices I was making. It was only coming in contact with others who were unfamiliar or suspicious of what I was doing that rattled me.

Which is why the message, “nothing that separates” landed so thoroughly with me. And why it is that I continue to try and live up to its Truth. For there is nothing more that I want between us than to be able to live the Truth of who I am while respecting the choices that each of us feels called to make. Nothing that I want more than to be able to tap into the undercurrent of Connection that exists between all of us, and that far outweighs the individual choices we make.

Which brings me to us. I know we all see and feel the polarization of our world around how to be healthy in the time of co-vid. Whatever your feelings are on how to proceed, I would like to propose that there is an essential element missing in most conversations. That being, the shaming and coercive energy behind where you place someone on the scale of humanity based on whether or not they choose to receive a shot. And that being, the way that this issue is nefariously and dangerously dividing parent against parent, child against parent, teachers against students, friends against friends, family members against family members, and co-workers and members of a community, against each other.

We have forgotten that Real Medicine does not harm, and it does not separate. It never pits people against one another. It does not divide families. Nor does it legislate its use. Or create caste systems. That is not medicine. Real Medicine is that which heals and makes whole. It transcends agendas and attitudes of the times. And always, and in all ways, it connects, and considers all of us.

Nothing that separates. Such a tall, tall order for a human being. We all have our preferences, our beliefs, and the hills we would die on. But now, in a time of Great Divide, any and all of these personally cherished attitudes must be held, somehow, with Great Unity. Lest we perish. Lest we get our way, but lose each other. Lest we forget that there are many, many ways to live a life that brings health, care, and contribution to the Greater Whole.

If you want to know who the real enemy in the time of co-vid is, it is separation.

Can you stand for what you stand for, without standing apart? Without forcing or coercing or shaming and blaming the other side? And could we all be so visionary as to recognize that to “get our own way” in this may be the very thing that divides us all in the end? Ask yourself what you most want in the world at this time. And then, watch yourself very, very closely, being particularly attuned to when getting what you want creates a divide.