Friday, 28 November 2014

A sign of support

Last week while walking Harvey through the forest an Echidna scuttled across the path, right in front of us! He stopped of course, as soon as Harvey started barking at him, curling himself into a tight ball, quills raised ready to defend and protect.

Such an unexpected sight, I knew I'd have to look up my Animal Dreaming book to see what Echidnas represent.

As we know, and saw, at the sign of threat they will dig themselves into the ground leaving only their quills visible - a great deterrent, this mechanism shuts them off from the world.

Scott Alexander King, author of Animal Dreaming, writes that while this action protects them from attack, it can also unfortunately shield them from any assistance or support offered by those who would see no harm come to them.

Hmmm...I am beginning to feel uncomfortable in my skin - the Echidna sounds a lot like me.

I read on.

"Open your heart to the needs of those around you and the nurturing they can offer. Stop shutting people out. You need to let down your guard, relax your sense of personal protection, develop tolerance and begin to trust."

It was like he was talking directly to me.

"Echidna helps us understand the fundamental distinction between denial and determination,
or...the difference between not wanting assistance and not needing support."

I am definitely someone who likes to be independent, but the warning he gives to be wary of being too independent, to the point where one may be seen as distant, ungrateful, unapproachable came across loud and clear.

I've felt the quills come up. They usually accompany the old belief that I should be able to do this... on my own. Stubborn creature aren't I? And I know this attitude gives off the energy that I don't need help, or want it, doing just what the animal psychic said - shutting me off from the rest of my world.

I really like to support others and help in any way I can. This Echidna has reminded me that I too need help at times - we all do - we're human. And it's high time I relaxed those quills of mine, let down my guard and soften to the beautiful people around me who want to see me succeed and be well.

NOTE: this post is dedicated to those people - family and friends - old and new, who have patiently supported me and shared the journey so far... With love and gratitude : ) xxxx

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The comfort in change

You know how last week I realised it's all about the journey, well the question that has plagued me during difficult times, is how to be with 'what is' - with the journey as it's unfolding - when we don't like 'what is'?

It's easy enough to enjoy and appreciate the 'good times', the happy times, even the times when we are just cruising along - no particular ups or downs, just cruising so to speak; content.

But what about the potholes, like the one I hit on Tuesday, that you're just about to crawl your way out of but lose your footing?

Yesterday I felt like there was no way out of that pothole.

It was one of those days where I couldn't wait for night to come so I could go to bed and escape the pain in my belly and my mind. I replayed those same unanswerable questions of years gone by over and over, hoping that I'd discover a new insight, a way forward, a step to take in the 'right' direction, something to ease the suffering.

But all it did was keep me stuck in the hole.

I wanted to get out but I didn't know how. There was no hope left to propel me up and onto not-so-shaky ground.

Today I am none the wiser re answers to the seemingly unanswerable questions I have about my health and the pain, but after listening to Pema Chodron, I have been able to climb out of the pothole and with hindsight, see what I was doing that was keeping me stuck.

In a talk on freeing ourselves from 'fixed-mind', from the recording called Walking the Walk, she says  that we think things are solid - our mind fixates, freezes things.

We get triggered or 'hooked' and our mind finds it difficult to let go. Our mind becomes fixed. Frozen. We think that thoughts and feelings and life itself are solid, when they're actually not - they're fluid.

Somehow this morning I was able to see that I had been doing this. That yesterday my mind became fixated on the feelings of despair and uncertainty. I was hooked and got carried away with the seven-year story of my ill-health and thoughts of no end, no hope filled me with fear. I felt paralysed - like there was no way out of the hole, and even if there was, what was the point?

I was in 'fixed-mind', and thanks to Pema Chodron, not only did I realise that, I was reminded that our thoughts and feelings are fluid and changing.

As is life - it is change. My health status changes. The pain changes. My thoughts and feelings about my health change.

But for some reason yesterday I did a really good job of solidifying and as a result, suffering.

She finishes up with what I consider to be very good news - that our natural state of mind is open and that we can return to open-mind in any moment and at any time. That open-mind exists and is part of our natural state is for me, an extreme comfort. As is the knowledge and wisdom that everything is fluid and changing.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Not there yet

Five seconds into the drive home from yoga this morning I am faced with a decision - which way will I go? Straight ahead or turn right at the fountain? My mind tries to work out which route will get me home the quickest so that I can get on with my day.

I choose to turn right. The light is red so I know I will have to wait a few seconds, but I'm ok with that - a few seconds won't hurt...

I get the go-ahead and turn on the green arrow. I don't get far - the next light turns red. I sigh. Then off I go again for a couple of hundred metres, until the next set of lights also turns red. Another sigh. And on it goes, every set of lights, all the way up Mitchell Street at 7.17 in the morning.

The sky was pretty, the air fresh, there was no emergency but I felt the irritation rise with every stop.When I got to the roundabout and yes, had to once more stop for oncoming cars, I saw what I was doing and I laughed - because I still believe, no matter how many times I've read otherwise, that the destination is more important than the journey.

And this, I sadly realised, I apply to almost everything I do...
Yoga - can't wait to do it, but want it to be over.
Eating - want to, yes, hungry, but want to finish so that I can do the next thing.
Writing blog posts - keen, but can't wait to press publish!
Walking Harvey - which track cos I've also got to blah, blah, blah...

Tick, tick, tick, tick. I'm a list person and I like to tick things off it. This doesn't make the list any smaller though - I just keep adding to it! So the list will never end. And I'm so busy planning the next 'destination' that the current journey and all that it offers is lost. Wasted.

I had a chat with a counsellor up at Uni this morning, just to sort through my choice to be a full-time student. He'd only known me for about 15 minutes before he said, "It's like you're running a marathon but you want to get to the end as quick as you can!" Hmmmm. Another affirmation that the destination is more important than the journey.

Does it really matter? I muse, as I sit here right now, writing these words. As long as I'm happy, right? But am I?

Life is ALL ABOUT THE JOURNEY, isn't it? I mean, that's what life is - it's a journey. And the ultimate destination, as my yoga teacher has reminded me a number of times, is death. Why would I want to rush to there?

It's definitely time to take off the blinkers, look around and BE where I am - whether I want to be there or not, cos that's where life happens - NOW.  

Those red lights are my new wake up-call, my cue back to consciousness, to the present, where the richness of life unfolds and gives me the chance to really live.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Am I ready?

My days are now quite different than what they have been for the past four years. I'm a full-time Masters student now.
I have a thesis to write!
Each week day I come in to my Uni office and 'work'. I read. I write. I read some more.
These are things I love doing, but this week I'm not feeling the love.

This week it feels difficult and hard and overwhelming and lonely. And I can't quite get my head around the why.

I'm not telling you this so that you'll send messages of support - I'm telling you because this is where I'm at. And because I'm human.

I'm a human being struggling with something she's never done before. I've hit the hurdle of doubt. The problem - an uncertainty about what I'm doing and how I'm going to do it.

But all this reading and searching led me quite unexpectedly to these words of wisdom yesterday afternoon -

Every problem implies a question: are you ready to embody what you say you believe? 
Can you reach within yourself for enough clarity, strength, forgiveness, serenity, 
love, patience, and faith to turn this around?

Am I ready?
Can I find those things within me and turn this problem around before I let it paralyse me?
I want to.
I want to believe that clarity exists - that I can see clearly - that sometimes its just clouded over by doubt.
I want to believe I have enough strength, energy, determination, to see this thing through.
I want to believe there is enough forgiveness - for myself and my doubt, and that I may touch serenity often, despite my uncertainty. 

Love, well, it's a hope that never wavers, a hope there is enough to continue to light the way forward. And may it keep me patient enough to return to the desk, day in day out.

And what can I say about faith?
It's the very thing I have counted on every day since I embarked on this journey.

Yes I have faith in the hidden construct that enables life to be life, but faith in myself - that I'm not so sure about.

But maybe it's time to find out.