I cried this week when my back hurt and my eyes wouldn’t work. I smiled, cuddled and laughed with some of my best friends. This week I put up a facade – a wall – when I felt I was being judged. This week I tore the wall down and opened to moments of radical vulnerability and authenticity.
I was so confused this week and then so free and clear minded. This week I was on fire at work and then soooo not. I made mistakes and had moments of pure kindness and love. I was sexy, spiritual, sick, silly and sad. Oh how wonderfully normal, messy and glorious was this week. A week of being human.
But then, this week, I heard an old familiar voice in my head whispering to me things like “You’re so full of contradictions”. “If only your readers knew that you dance on tables and cry and get confused – who do you think you are talking about mindfulness”, “You should be more spiritual, more ‘together’ more mindful….more!”
But as the shame came rolling into my body in response to these thoughts I noticed them and I woke up.
And I breathed.
One breath in…..one breath out.
One mindful breath and I was home – unhooked from thoughts and in the embrace of awareness.
I smiled at the voice in my head and said warmly to myself (mentally) “thanks mind” (I know that everything my mind says is simply an attempt to protect me and keep me alive) and I named the mental story playing in my head “Ahhh, the you’re not good enough story again.”
And I let it go.
I let go of my thoughts and connected to my senses – to my life in the moment. The birdsong and rustle of the wind in the shimmering trees. The light touch of fabric caressing my skin. The play of light and shadow on the grass. I felt so alive to it all again.
In that moment, I remembered that mindfulness is not a perfection project but rather a wholehearted embrace of the full spectrum of human emotion and experience. It’s a wholehearted embrace of this moment – a daring to be fully alive to it all and a continuous invitation to an unconditional love of ourselves, each other and life in all its messiness and wonder.
Sacredness and wildness, joy and sadness, confusion and clarity, mistakes and silliness, sickness and wellness- They are all a part of the rich tapestry of my humanity. The paradox is that living a full human life is not about getting it all together but embracing that not-together-ness in a loving awareness that is larger than it all.
Although the voice in our heads may constantly tell us we’re not there yet, not enough yet, that we need to be more, better, sexier, fitter, stronger, and get it all together…the awareness that watches these thoughts is already whole and in love. We always have the choice to remember to hold ourselves in that larger awareness and love ourselves -unconditionally – as we are – gorgeous creatures of paradox and glory.
And although the voice may also rant on about the imperfections, shortcomings failures and flaws of others (especially loved ones and especially over the holiday season) and tell us of their not-enough-ness and not-together-ness, we always have the choice to hold them in that larger awareness and love them -unconditionally – as they are – gorgeous creatures of paradox and glory.
If the voice in your head starts up with its judgements, criticisms, complaints and critiques you can always stop and notice….and breathe.
Name the story and let it go. Reconnect with the moment.
Return to the loving awareness that you are….and love.
Love, love, love.
I’ll leave you with a little ‘prayer’ for the holiday season and beyond by Aussie artist and poet Leunig
God bless our contradictions,
those parts of us which seem out of character.
Let us be boldly and gladly out of character.
Let us be creatures of paradox and variety:
creatures of contrast; of light and shade; creatures of faith.
God be our constant. Let us step out of character into the unknown,
to struggle and love and do what we will.
Happy Holidays friends and thank you for being part of this community and part of my life.
PS. Here is Leunig’s caveat on the use of the word ‘God.’
“I use the word ‘God’ conscious of the fact that there are many who may find it objectionable – and others who may find my casual use of the word too irreverent or shallow. For all sorts of reasons people can be very touchy about this word; in my view they seem either too earnest, too proprietorial, too fanatical, too averse, too phobic… There is however no ultimate authority or definition. The word is yours or mine to make of it and hold or discard it as we will…”God” as a sort of shorthand password, an inconclusive folk word, a signpost, a catalyst, a spark, a stepping stone, a simple makeshift handle … A simple robust word used lightly and loosely or as devoutly and deeply as we might feel – a bridge, and a way to break free from this material world for a moment or two, a day or two… or for what’s left of a lifetime.”