Do not ruin today with mourning tomorrow-
Struggling to eliminate our flaws, tossing abrasive feelings to the side … Fighting ourselves into a place we deem more pleasant and less disruptive. Our instinctual fight or flight response operates in perpetual “autopilot” mode, navigating us toward safety. Although, what happens when we switch our autopilot system off?
I quite literally stumbled, and flicked my autopilot switch from “on” to “mindfulness” about five years ago. Mindfulness offered me a very specific and helpful way to accept, and value myself, by gently inviting me to pause … To look within my thoughts, and notice what I am experiencing moment to moment – The polar opposite of killing the gym and running myself into the ground. Rather than conclude something was “wrong” with me for experiencing troubling thoughts and feelings, I simply acknowledged and attended to whatever I happened to notice at the time. Acceptance of who I am is enormously freeing, as long as I pause long enough to recognize that the path forward is awakening to myself, and not who I want or wish I could be.
As the many experiences in life arise and float away, we dip our toes into a pool of stillness that has long sat stagnant.
Every afternoon that autumn
walking across campus
past the conservatory
I heard the soprano
her voice rising
making its way up the scale
straining to claim each note
weeks of work
storms slamming the campus
the semester staggering
to an end
heading out and going home
the campus nearly deserted
but the soprano
still working the scales
when I passed under the trees
the liquidambars on fire
the clouds like great cities
sailing out to sea
and didn’t I ascend
my own weariness
didn’t we rise together
her voice straining
at the top of its range
If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath-
This morning, I’m anxious about any number of things and more specifically the Big Ring Ranch MTB Enduro this coming Saturday. I have not been able to find peace and tranquility very well, or as much as I would like the past few days. This race was supposed to happen in June, however Mother Nature won in the end. I feel tense and unsettled no fewer than a couple of times throughout the day: Worrying about pedantic things like gearing, my level of fitness and health, and I worry about “why” I was talked into this in the first place … I worry a lot, because I find comfort in worrying.
The first thing I try to do when my worrying mind takes over, is to figure out what is not working right now in this beautiful moment. Sounds easy enough right? For me personally its harder than it sounds. Some mornings there’s a clear answer to be found during a sun salutation, but often it’s jumbled and convoluted – for my mind is not entirely present. I feel like I’m “hanging out” and going through the “motions.” I feel like I’m going to disappoint a bunch of family and friends – You – My Dear Readers. The once solid relationship I had with myself is spiraling out of control.
Other mornings, though, I really don’t know what the problem is. On the surface it appears that everything’s going fairly well, my breath is in tune with my flow and my mind is centered in the moment. Although, buried under the surface: I’m still struggling with worry.
The more I struggle with worry, the more anxious I become. I desperately need to find peace and tranquility, but how? Where do I start?!?
Does what I shared above sound familiar? Some folks go for a walk, others head to the gym and surrender to a warm bath afterwards to find peace and tranquility. However, through being bold and trying, surrendering to the moment … This is when we find peace and tranquility.
Time to head out for a morning walk.
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself-
What are we seeking when we engage in self-reflection along our path to discovering our true authentic self? I asked myself this question during a recent cycling event, one where I had quite a bit of time to think about “things” in life.
Stumbling upon my path to discovering my authentic self has been riddled by a myriad of close calls, disappointments, pain and yes: Suffering. Years of engaging in destructive behavior seemingly crushed me as a person and still haunt me, even as I proof read this post.
Everywhere I sought help and refuge, I was continually told the way to discover “who we really are” is to simply scrape away all the dreck that has been heaped upon ourselves over the years. Sounds easy enough right?!? If life were only as easy as reading a $5.99 self-help e-book or a top 10 list to discover your true self blog post. The more self-help advice and guidance I marinated in, the more I began to notice how self involved I was becoming. I gradually became concerned only with what affected me or only with that which is useful to, or focused primarily on myself. I started to make every day life “things” that were not about me, about me, and I became blind to world unfolding around me … The more I looked inward, the more I tuned out. I stopped living life.
Each one of us has a self that is beautiful, flawed and unique. Each one of us are blessed with a complicated set of life experiences that no one else has. Our lives are an accumulation of experiences – both good, bad and the ugly. We are amazing – dynamic creatures, and we are continually a work in progress!
These experiences, however, are the very “things” that the searching to reveal our true authentic in a book or whatever, toss to the side as unimportant or distracting. My path to an authentic self, starts with acknowledging my woeful self-deception, that I am my own worst enemy and bringing my Son along to a few cyclocross races last season helped to shed light on what matters the most to me in life (more on this next week).
I hope each of you reading today have an amazing weekend, take care and be well!
That long-ago morning at Ruth’s farm
when I hid in the wisteria
and watched hummingbirds. I thought
the ruby or gold that gleamed on their throats
was the honeyed blood of flowers.
They would stick their piercing beaks
into a crown of petals until their heads
disappeared. The blossoms blurred into wings,
and the breathing I heard
was the thin, moving stems of wisteria.
That night, my face pressed against the window,
I looked out into the dark
where the moon drowned in the willows
by the pond. My heart, bloodstone,
turned. That long night, the farm,
those jeweled birds, all these gone years.
The horses standing quiet and huge
in the moon-crossing blackness.