To be willing to inquire and do your due diligence with all elements of your life makes for a better life. Especially your inner/spiritual/religious/mindful life. To be clear, thoughtful and engaged inquiry is essential in these times. So many traditions, belief systems, and psycho-spiritual methods have infiltrated our modern culture that to discern what any one offers or has the ability to deliver becomes instrumental in you consciously choosing to participate in the direction of your life, ultimately impacting the lives around you.
What if we don't need to learn how to navigate transitions. Instead, why not discover how to be in right relationship with our inner landscape and how to adjust our attitude towards change? The term navigate implies that we can exercise some sort of control or influence over the road ahead; we lead ourselves to believe that we might be able to avoid what we don’t want or to imagine we can intentionally manifest our preferences. Though there are many self-help and new age formulas claiming to teach the secrets of how to, in ten steps or less, manifest our desires and dreams, I prefer to orient my practice and my teaching towards the dynamic relationship between our inner and outer life, cultivating a healthy response to what is, while being receptive to what might be. This is a lifestyle adjustment.
When I settle in, the first sense of what I might later decide to call gratitude is an experience of awareness. This awareness is directly focused on the breath that is breathing me. I realize that my breath is the first gift bestowed upon me. My breath was given to me by some mystery whose existence is before and beyond my capacity to even court its generosity. This unearned kindness tells me that, contrary to popular belief, I’m inherently worthy and loved. I’m not breathing because of something I did or did not do, some request I petitioned for or a promise I made. I’m breathing because the source of breath deemed that I should breathe. Period.
It was at Esalen this summer when Bernie was forging a channel of change into the collective zeitgeist as a rising liberal anti establishment truth teller sage and savior. I was in the lodge watching one of the primary debates clandestinely, as Esalen doesn’t have a particularly robust wifi stream and prefers that technology remain in the background, if it is present at all. But I couldn’t resist. It felt like too important a time and too important a moment for me to not at least take a peek. While nonchalantly watching my iPhone on my lap with my earbuds in, I noticed the young attractive man at the table next to mine. He was probably in his late twenties with dark hair, brown eyes, three-day-old facial hair, and a mischievous though cautious smile. I caught him watching me and made a casual invitation for him to join which he politely refused.
I take a long deep breath, shake my head, and call forth my hard earned superpower: my ability to pause. I enter this hiatus to step back and witness what’s arising. My capacity to detach kicks in strongly. Instead of reacting, I become curious. Years of meditation serve me well at times like this. The witness is now wired into my circuitry right alongside the relentless critical bitch.