The next time you find yourself in a situation of challenging emotions, conflict or conditioned reaction…….try to imagine everything you are thinking and feeling as this river. By this I mean let go……. try to consciously allow it to flow over (or through) you without getting stuck on one thought or feeling. Let all possible thoughts, ideas, perspectives flow without limitation as you choose to look around and see what else there is. Remind yourself you can always choose when you want to narrow your vision and grab that familiar branch or rock….. but see if you can surrender. For just a few moments see if you can sense that there are other possibilities for how you might choose to see, feel and think.
Notice how it feels to let go of ‘right and wrong’, certainty or the attachment to feeling or thinking a specific way. Let the river take you and see if you can notice something new for however long you are in it. Just notice what you see and feel and perhaps allow the waters to soften you. (I have found when I feel myself soften…..I am able to be with my past conditioning/responses but can also open to a new landscape in the present.)
**Perhaps think of it in metaphors you would enjoy…… maybe a fabulous crossword puzzle, a challenging piece of music, a math problem or an incredibly satisfying organization project. A place where you bring your attention and slowly reveal that which was not seen or known before.**
I want to share a personal story that is an example of what I am trying to describe.
This story is probably one of the greater defining stories in my life and had such impact on so many aspects of who I am.
My grandmother died when I was 12 and there was a consequent chain of significant events which contributed to her death being emotionally and psychologically complex.
I have spent quite a bit of time in the past few decades unfolding the layers of this grief, the loss and the story.
This time of year it is ever more present as a certain tangible melancholy seems to invade my cells starting around my birthday in early March. And so it has become like a pilgrimage of sorts each year at this time……honoring my birth, the coming of Spring and my grandmother’s passing.
Perhaps that all sounds so clear and tidy……but it can be pretty messy along the way wrestling with so many ghosts of thought and emotion.
So…….now that you have some back ground let me share how this particular story of me connects to what I am writing about.
The other day as I was talking to a friend about how things unfolded with her dying (overflowing with all my years of personal reflection and insight). I realized again almost for the first time, as memory is sometimes conveniently attached to certain perspectives, that I was still choosing to perceive her dying as ‘tragic’ and negative. There was only ‘black or white’ and I chose ‘black’.
As I softened and allowed myself to be curious I discovered (and remembered) so many other truths.
The truth that life unfolds with unknowable blessing and challenges. That it is up to me as far as how I carry those memories, how I tell those stories and how I let it permeate my sense of being in the world.
As a child I couldn’t do that….the only choice I knew was grief and deep loss and that was what I carried with me unquestioned into adulthood. This seemed like a fair assessment…….so why would I question it?
I choose to question it because I realized that only feeling the ‘grief and loss’ perpetuated the perception of ‘negative’ or ‘tragedy’ in some way. And when I allow myself to be in the river of thoughts and emotions and let all perspectives wash over me…..that is when I see there are so many other elements to the landscape other than the rocks of grief and loss.
The other day I wasn’t clinging to a branch where all I could see was the story of this as a ‘sad tragedy’. When I allowed myself to keep moving through the waters of possibility and not remain stuck in one perspective, I could recognize I am amazingly who I am because of her passing and all that followed.
That it is absolutely possible to be with the grief, honor her life (and death) and also recognize that there was so much beauty that also grew from it. That her dying was not just an ‘end’ …..it planted seeds of beginning within me. From here I am able to both feel appreciation for her life and her death….as well as the other things that followed.
Arriving in this perspective has taken curiosity and permission (and still there are times I ‘forget’). I could easily stay attached to the familiar perspective of ‘sad tragedy’ but through practice I have found other ‘truths’ and through this I have found greater love, appreciation and freedom.
I believe this is true with most aspects of our stories, memories and lives.
Why not be curious? Why not gently unfold layers and discover new possibilities of how you feel and think in your skin and in the world?
We have this possibility every day…..every moment……..perhaps just pick one and see what you find……
Thanks for reading……..