My favorite part of yoga is at the end, you typically will go into “corpse” pose – savasana. You’re just laying there in silence, feeling the ground beneath you. And if you’re mindful about it, you really do feel that ground. And you feel grounded.
In these crazy times, I find it difficult to feel grounded. In fact, I think I had forgotten that feeling. But over the past few months, I have been gathering with some mindfulness friends in socially distanced circumstances and meditating together. Sharing. Laughing. Crying. These “in person” meetings always leave me with a taste of feeling grounded because they are “normal.” And it’s so interesting how rare it is these days to feel just that – “normal.” Because “normal” isn’t that anymore, it’s rare. So I treasure it – it truly is a gift – the new joy of “normal”…
I thought I’d share this wonderful quote from Brene Brown that a friend recently posted on Facebook:
“I am here for my purpose.
I’m not here to make people comfortable or to be liked. My purpose is to know and experience love. This means excavating the unsaid. In the world and in me.
Knowing and experiencing love means calling shame, fear, dehumanization, and injustice by their birth name: Lovelessness.
It means finding love in beauty, art, music, and nature.
It means not turning away from pain or working pain out on other people.
Knowing and experiencing love requires making connections between experiences and emotions that often feel a million miles apart.
And, for me, love always requires living into courage and faith.”
I was talking with some of my mindfulness friends recently – and one of them talked about “shenpa,” those small moments in life that trigger you into a cycle downward. The true small disappointments that seem so big in the moment. A fellow driver on the road doing something careless. The awkward way a co-worker words something. What if we could minimize the impact of those? Wouldn’t life be a wee bit more grand?
Here’s an excerpt from a piece by Pema Chodron on just that topic:
Someone looks at us in a certain way, or we hear a certain song, we smell a certain smell, we walk into a certain room and boom. The feeling has nothing to do with the present, and nevertheless, there it is. When we were practicing recognizing shenpa at Gampo Abbey, we discovered that some of us could feel it even when a particular person simply sat down next to us at the dining table.
Shenpa thrives on the underlying insecurity of living in a world that is always changing. We experience this insecurity as a background of slight unease or restlessness. We all want some kind of relief from that unease, so we turn to what we enjoy—food, alcohol, drugs, sex, work or shopping. In moderation what we enjoy might be very delightful. We can appreciate its taste and its presence in our life. But when we empower it with the idea that it will bring us comfort, that it will remove our unease, we get hooked.
So we could also call shenpa “the urge”—the urge to smoke that cigarette, to overeat, to have another drink, to indulge our addiction whatever it is. Sometimes shenpa is so strong that we’re willing to die getting this short-term symptomatic relief. The momentum behind the urge is so strong that we never pull out of the habitual pattern of turning to poison for comfort. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve a substance; it can be saying mean things, or approaching everything with a critical mind. That’s a major hook. Something triggers an old pattern we’d rather not feel, and we tighten up and hook into criticizing or complaining. It gives us a puffed-up satisfaction and a feeling of control that provides short-term relief from uneasiness.
Here is an excerpt from the monthly newsletter penned by Jonathan Foust:
It’s one thing to recognize I’m stressed.
It’s another to find a way to be with it.
A poet once wrote that sometimes
“It’s helpful to take the 3,000 year view.”
That does open more space.
But it’s not just space we need.
I think it’s only when we can sense the vastness of space and infuse it with some kind of loving presence that we can step forward – informed by both wisdom and compassion.
We’ve got a free year’s worth of Apple TV streaming – so we’re watching “The Morning Show” right now. Fantastic show. Reminds me of “The West Wing,” except it’s set on the set of a network morning television show. Anyway, the episode last night involved a scene where Reese Witherspoon’s character tells Mark Duplass that she can go into Jennifer Anniston’s trailer to calm her down because she has a lot of experience with “people on the verge.”
It got me thinking how so many of us are on the verge – what with the pandemic, the election, you name it. So we’re all getting a lot of experience – including being on the verge ourselves. And in my experience, if someone is on the verge, the best thing you can do for them is what Reese did – just be there for them physically, hold them, invite them to just breathe. It’s not the time for unsolicited advice, for much talking, for doing anything that doesn’t “feel right.”
It’s the equivalent of letting them “take a moment” or “take a beat.” And they may well need that “moment” to last days, weeks or months. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do but just to be there to and provide unconditional support. You’re not there to be the person that helps “fix” them. You leave that to others, whether they be professionals or other people in their lives. At that point, your loved one just needs someone to be in their corner, no matter what the circumstances. But I’m not an expert – so I’m open to your suggestions or recommendations on this (or any) topic…