When i reflect on the nature of all this ‘practice’ with its constant metaphor and call to dwell within a space of unconditional love……… it sometimes sounds so abstract or a romantic ideal of sorts. And I know people say it isn’t possible to love yourself every moment with such compassion and infinite heart. And yet it is a practical and lived experience for me. One that doesn’t exclude my being cranky and falling short……I do not float on a cloud all day. I live my human experience with all my personality and opinions but am not attached to them ultimately. I seek to find balance with my more expansive and innate wisdom which helps me to get out of my own way of cutting myself off from this vast source of unconditional love. And I do it with practice and commitment.
Along the way I have so many people ask if I can tell them how they can find these connections and states of being for themselves. Of course there are tools that can help…….. and I know the ones that have helped me. And then there are so many books, programs and models that may speak to finding a path for yourself.
……what i seem to arrive at again and again is that it takes personal curiosity and awareness to come to know your unique method. What works for me or a thousand other people might not work for you or the person next door. And at the same time there seem to be some consistencies ……and many gems that can offer us a leaping point towards insight and inspiration on this personal journey of development.
If I was going to offer a possibility for a general practice (which again, I think these are tricky and need personal attention and improvisation)…….I would say this:
~NOTICE ~INTERRUPT ~CHOOSE~
Notice-Everything seems to begin with awareness. This can mean many things …for me it is partly slowing the process of ‘thinking and doing’ so i can actually notice the array of thoughts, emotions, dynamics, energy, physical body and the threads that might be influencing all of these……I simply follow threads and notice what I notice. I don’t try to ‘figure it out’ per se….unless it has created a larger challenge that needs addressing.
How does this help? It is such a resource for day to day ‘being’. By simply noticing and connecting dots I am not swept up in my conditioned thinking, feeling, ego imbalance or status quo of social dynamics. The less energy I exert to tread these waters the more energy i have for being present. I am able to respond as opposed to react and I am able to connect to the source of unconditioned love within myself. This helps to reveal more clearly the whole system of ‘greater than/lesser than’ dynamics that seem to underlie so many of our thoughts and interactions.
Interrupt- Not only do i notice the thought, behavior or energy…..I then interrupt it. It’s almost like tapping it on the shoulder and saying ‘excuse me……I see you’. It is a moment of bearing witness (without judgement) to this process inside you stimulated by an intricate web of internal and external stimulus. At first my interruptions (or pauses) were just a second or two and with time I have widened this space/gap…..widen it enough so that the actual dynamic, feeling or behavior could dissolve in force and not be running the show. Now the spaces between happen more often without effort which allows me more resource for letting go of attachments (to judgement) and being able to be more compassionate (unconditioned) toward myself and everyone. Along with this my nervous system on the whole can chill out and I feel myself more open to spirit and the mystery (without desire to control).
Choose- Ahhhhhhh! I feel like opening up my awareness and interrupting habitual thoughts, feelings, attempts to control and behavior has gifted me more space and an ability to choose. I can actually be empowered moment to moment as opposed to on an auto pilot that might not be serving me and using up much of my ‘fuel’. Sometimes I choose the same things (and they aren’t always what might serve me! :))…….but even then, something has changed in my brain and my energy because I have engaged with it. There is a feeling of wholeness and empowerment to notice the threads and thoughts unfolding inside me, pause long enough so they don’t just sweep me up and then choose what direction I want to go. And it applies to every aspect of myself and life. I find I am always interacting with these tools…….moment to moment. And that is why I ask <‘why not fall in love with yourself every moment of the day?’>. If you are actively noticing moment to moment what might be inhibiting your ability to dwell in unconditioned love…..then you sorta create space for unconditioned love to be present moment to moment.
And then all of this is just a spring board to explore within yourself……where did you find yourself curious in anything you read? What sparked the strongest response? What resonates for you?
We are complex and infinite beyond any of these words or ideas. This being human is a laboratory…why not explore?
“Wonder is a state of mind in which we do not look at reality through the latticework of our memorized knowledge; in which nothing is taken for granted.”
~Abraham Joshua Heschel
So……not because I explore these ‘truths’ in me…..and not because Heschel speaks to it (along with many others we find in quotes and life)……but why not because you feel it resonate within you.