AI art, "Painting of a Buddha body free falling in a cosmic sky"
My mornings have consisted of yoga, deep diaphragmatic breathing techniques, coffee, and mango smoothies. This past week, I recovered from sickness and am grateful for the psycho-spiritual lessons. The fatigue and brain fog was real, but the invitation to slow down, feel, and contain my energy was freeing. Not trying to do everything. Not trying to plan or think ahead despite the massive shifts emerging in my life. Just being. I got a taste of what it's like to contain my energy and honor my energetic boundaries. This has been a healing contrast to my tendency to freely give my energy away to people, things, and ideas.
Being sick invited me deeper into my inner life. Often times my realizations come from reflecting on my past, or projecting into the future. Yet recently, most of my revelations and insights these days have arisen from being in the present moment in the daily life of my existence. Becoming aware of when my chest unconsciously tightens throughout the day and remembering to breathe slowly and intentionally. Noticing when my energy shifts, especially when a thought or event that comes up that creates tension or dissonance. Yet by making these inner experiences conscious, I become more in touch with what's alive in me, summoning the courage to face my fears and worries.
I know I'm ready to start a new chapter. It doesn't feel right to conform to an identity and life that has outgrown its purpose. New energy and love is flooding into my life, shaking up the old. I'll be moving across the country soon. I'll be leaving memories, people, and an identity of self that I deeply value, which is painful to me. Despite the fact that I value change and I love what my future holds, I didn't realize how attached I am to what I'm leaving until recently. Significant fear and worry keeps showing up, both real and irrational. I feel deep grief (and even shame) that I'm moving towards these massive shifts and changes emerging. The uncertainty of how it will all shake out is bothering me.
The Tibetan Buddhist word for attachment is shenpa, a visceral quality associated with the feeling of being hooked. It’s that stuck feeling, that tightening or closing down or withdrawing we experience when we’re uncomfortable with what’s going on. I feel like my asthmatic health struggles symbolize my attachments. I'm holding a lot of tension in my body and I don't know how to release it.
When I'm deep in an asthma attack, the only thing that helps is taking deep, slow breaths and imagining that I'm slowly floating in the sky. I'm letting go of what's unnecessary and re-learning how to relax in my body. Opening the mind and heart that wants to close out of fear. Leaning and relaxing into groundlessness.
When things start to fall apart in your life, you feel as if your whole world is crumbling. But actually it’s your fixed identity that’s crumbling. And that’s cause for celebration. – Pema Chodron
Buddhist nun Pema Chodron defines groundlessness as the freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human. She asks: What is it like to realize we can never completely and finally get it all together? Is it possible to increase our tolerance for instability and change? How can we make friends with unpredictability and uncertainty— and embrace them as vehicles to transform our lives? How can we relax and have a genuine, passionate relationship with the fundamental uncertainty, the groundlessness of being human?
I can spend this time of transition suffering because I can’t relax with how things really are. Or, I can relax and embrace the open-endedness of the human condition, which is fresh, unfixated, unbiased. As Dainin Katagiri writes, "the important point is that we can neither escape everyday life nor ignore it. We have to live by means of realizing the original nature of self right in the middle of daily routine."
Although my life situation is complex, I'm learning that my responses and choices can be simple. Facing what scares me with calm observation and curiosity. Focusing on the practical to balance out the emotional. Refraining from comparing my present moment to seemingly similar past experiences. Noticing the next baby step as opposed to trying to figure out the road map just yet. Asking for help, which I don't do enough of.
Groundlessness, uncertainty, insecurity, vulnerability — these are words that ordinarily carry a negative connotation. We’re generally wary of these feelings and try to elude them in any way possible. But groundlessness isn’t something we need to avoid. The same feeling we find so troubling when we open to it can be experienced as a huge relief, as freedom from all restraints. It can be experienced as a mind so unbiased and relaxed that we feel expansive and joyful. — Pema Chodron
When my energy came creeping back while recovering from sickness, I got outside the past few days to move my body. I always find joy and release in dance. Plus it's so fun to shuffle to non-EDM songs :) Here are some highlights of songs from past decades!
- Lost in Love - Air Supply
- Dreamlover - Mariah Carey
- S.O.S. - Abba
- Only You - Tiestö, Kaskade
- Drowning (Avicii Radio Edit) - Armin Van Buuren, Laura V