Yesterday in our women’s heart circle gathering, seven of us gathered together to share our deep exploration of what being present means in our lives. One of the observations that came up was how we often feel present when things are going well or when we’re doing something we love or when we’re immersed in the beauty of nature. But we noticed that sometimes in situations that aren’t comfortable or are downright painful we feel we are out of the flow of being present because whatever is happening doesn’t feel good, and with it comes the thought that we are then not fully present.
Naming this is so profound because it brings to light that judgment that all those uncomfortable things shouldn’t be present. Or at the very least, we should know how to navigate them better. But as we all know and experience, that’s how life shows up. It can be ugly or painful or scary or beautiful. And there is no right way to navigate it perfectly. There is no “right way to do things” template to place over each situation. What happens when awkwardness or irritation or anger show up? Do we feel then that we have somehow once again failed?
Can we ask ourselves then, what does that feeling of failure mean? This is so rich for each of us. We all bring in our own version of not good enough, not spiritual enough, not smart enough. So many ways to stab our selves with jolts of pain. And those jolts will keep arising until we name them for ourselves, allow them to speak, and follow them to their source—was I called stupid when I was young for not understanding math, was I told I was not as good as my sibling, did someone abuse me, and on and on. So many strands of hurts that we’ve taken on ourselves by tucking them into our hearts so sadly, so innocently and now all those layers seem to have coalesced into our identity. And each time we feel that jab we say, oh that’s me. That’s who I am.
Are we willing then to ask, is this really true? Is this who I truly am?
Right here is the opportunity to open and unfold our deepest fears. What if we go to the source of feeling limited somehow, what will we find? Will we find out that we really are stupid, worthless, bad, afraid? Here is where we can either say yes, we are willing to examine this feeling, to allow it to speak for as long as it needs to be seen, or no, we’re not ready. And if we’re not ready, we can resist fully experiencing what is showing up just as it is. And our mind can once again take that word–resistance–and judge ourselves over it: oh, I’m resisting, I’m not being present, it should be different, and on and on.
But the beautiful thing about this resistance is that it doesn’t say anything about us. Whether it’s physical, hormonal, emotional, mental, spiritual, this feeling of resistance just offers itself up as often as needed as a pointer that there is something to soften into. To discover what it is that’s pinching us in this feeling of resistance. Can we allow and follow this discomfort as often as needed? Can we be truly kind to ourselves by being okay with however it shows up as often as it needs to? Over and over again? And if we can do that, can we see it, feel it, love it fully, tenderly? And what if instead of saying, go away, we open our heart and say, hello friend, you’re here again. Show me what this is.
And if our mind wants to chew on it and chew on it like it does, that’s fine. Presence hasn’t disappeared. But the mind with its brilliant functioning is simply too small to understand our immensity. Something in us can say, hello mind, even though you can be useful, right now I’m not interested in the same old stuff you keep telling me. And if we’re curious we can wonder, what is it that’s saying that to the mind? With love and humor no less! And so here, in total vulnerability, we trust that something greater than the mind holds us, and we can gently let go by feeling into our hearts, into our bodies, into the immense fullness and emptiness of the universe.
Oh how our whole being resonates when we get a taste for that fluidity; this is what feels true. It feels so natural and in flow with all life. That feels present and alive. But in an instant, the mind can pop back in with its persistent call: I want to know. I want it all the time. I’m not feeling it now so what’s wrong with me? Wily mind, it’s only doing its job, but sometimes we forget its limitation and take it as truth. It claims to tell us who we are, and if we’re honest, it can feel comforting to be presented with a finite identity. We feel it as safety, as a way to navigate and cope with a chaotic world. It feels like it gives us control over our destiny.
And this is where we find ourselves. Are we willing to let go of all control? Can we trust enough to let go of all our handholds to be the presence that allows everything? Yes, everything. Allowing everything unfiltered can feel intensely frightening. And it is total liberation. This is the beauty of our human life. Each moment, each experience offers us the most exquisite opportunity to see ourselves as we truly are.
Thank you to my dear heart circle friends for your willingness to share your truth, your wisdom and your love. Thank you to all of my beloved friends and family for sharing this grand journey with me. What a gift this life is.