Are you familiar with Michael A. Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul? In rereading books for their calming reminders during unsettling times in our lives, books can act like mentors. Mentors who are wise, non-judgmental and remind us of truths or practices we may need again, or may have forgotten. This passage struck a helpful chord.
At the end of Chapter 1 Singer writes:
True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection. This is done by constantly remembering that you are the one inside that notices the voice talking. That is the way out. The one inside who is aware that you are always talking to yourself about yourself is always silent. It is a doorway to the depths of your being. To be aware that you are watching the voice talk is to stand on the threshold of a fantastic inner journey. If used properly, the same mental voice that has been a source of worry distraction, and general neurosis can become the launching ground for true spiritual awakening. Come to know the one who watches the voice, and you will come to know one of the great mysteries of creation.
I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe. —- Dalai Lama
There is no way around it. We find ourselves in crazy times. Yet also these times can be opportunities to whittle down to the nuggets of what most matters to us individually and those in our own wee orbits. We have the time to reflect, take stock, learn more, unlearn other things, and maybe come out of this forced “cocoon” stripped down to the essentials of what we know matters most to us. We might come through these crazy times with a clearer compass reading of where we want to spend our time, energy and resources and make that happen. In that way what we do and how we do it reflects our values and what we say matters to us. That can lead to being and feeling congruent, inside and out. Making such shifts, whittling down to the nuggets, could have impact on ourselves, others and the world we want to be a part.
In these strange times, finding ways to settle ourselves down, or take stock in a crazy moment is a helpful approach.
Recently we came across these 4 questions a young politician asks herself. We thought to share them because these questions seem helpful to ask oneself in any sticky situation.
We share them here:
What is this really about?
Is this truly important in the larger scheme of things?
Do I have the power to change this?
Will doing more make it worse or do I just ride it out?
This quote just came to our attention and caught it. We wanted to share as we muse on it some more.
“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
author Virgina Woolf ( b.1882-1941)
With this time we all have now, there also is an opportunity to learn new things and maybe create. Have we said I don’t have time for that in our past? Well, with this ‘found’ time, we can surprise ourselves, and dive into something new. Take those paints out, dust off the instrument in a forgotten corner, build that backyard sculpture, spin wool or spin a yarn, grow a garden, listen and laugh out loud, try new recipes, and maybe paint rocks and leave them around the neighborhood.
Someone may need to see, hear or find exactly what you are learning, creating or exploring right now.
Do we notice what we say, do and think in a day? Where we spend our time, energy and resources tells us what we value. Do our actions, words and thoughts impact our world, our family, our experiences? Often we hear we want the world to change, yet somehow that can seem beyond our control or influence. Yet lately it feels the world has stopped business as usual, maybe in order for us to take the time to look and see what is and is not working for our human world.
Whether we choose to be intentional or unintentional with our time, thoughts, energy and resources it is doubtful our world can be as it was before. What is the world we want to be part? Many of us had the illusion the world we lived in matched more closely what Disney movies showed us. Yet we are starting to better see that Disney movies hardly resembled anyone’s truth. Yet in seeing there has been a bigger underbelly than we fully realized, we also acknowledge it is now seeing the light of day. And it can feel like chaos. And with the light and chaos comes opportunity.
We can choose to be part of moving this “ship” around to better reflect what we want more of in this world. And we need be honest too in noticing how we could choose words, thoughts and actions to better support the world we say we want. We do have an impact.
“A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will. ” -Proverb
In these uncertain times, changing our minds might be the way to change the world to be one that works for everyone. As we are physical distancing and sheltering in place, we have a different kind of time on our hands. Maybe we are noticing more of who and what is around us. We might be more and more aware every day how the world has not been working for our families, ourselves and those marginalized including the hungry, homeless and sick among us. Maybe we saw it but weren’t sure what to do or how to help. We were overwhelmed. Systems were in place and clearly not working. And now everything has stopped. S T O P P E D.
Yet every system, procedure, even belief we have was imagined or told to us by a person. We can re-examine everything. Man-made systems, rules, laws, institutions, policies etc. And when they don’t work or no longer work, we can change them. With new thinking and the will to follow through we can change our minds and change our lives. At the micro and macro levels. We often try hard to change a person or a system rather than ourselves but far easier to change ourselves for long range change. Now we have the time to contemplate what we need, can do and can think differently about in order to have the relationships, communities and kinder world we say we want.
“Recognizing the power of our minds means that even as unfortunate or terrible things happen to us, we can receive them in a more spacious and ultimately more enlightened way. The Budda taught his students to develop a power of love so strong that the mind becomes like space that cannot be tainted. If someone throws paint, it is not the air that will change color. Space will not hold the paint; it will not grasp it in any way. Only the walls, the barriers to space, can be affected by the paint.”
quoted from Lovingkindness (page 122) by Sharon Salzberg
Sharing a quote from Sharon Salzberg’s book, “Lovingkindness”, reflecting on the gift of equanimity.
To have the radiant calm and unswayed balance of mind that we call equanimity is to be like the earth. All kinds of things are cast upon the earth: beautiful and ugly things, frightful and lovable things, common and extraordinary things. The earth receives it all and quietly sustains its own integrity.
It is a state of peace to be able to accept things as they are. This is to be at home in our own lives. We see that this universe is much too big to hold on to, but it is the perfect size for letting go. Our hearts and minds can become that big, and we can actually let go. This is the gift of equanimity.