I start every morning by checking the weather – I look through my window at what’s going on outside, and then through my bodymind at what’s going on inside.
I try to treat the conditions of outer and inner “weather” in the same way, with mild curiosity and acceptance.
“Oh, hey, it’s rainy and chilly out today….better dig out my snazzy rainboots. And what’s up inside? I notice a little stress, like a “low-pressure system” around my deadline, but overall energy is good. Maybe I should try to carve out 2 hours first thing this morning to wrap up changes to the new project….”
I’ve found this daily “weather check” to be a remarkably relaxed and efficient way to work with the essentially chaotic nature of my inner and outer environments.
But I haven’t always been able to do it.
I actually spent most of my early life being led around like a puppy on a leash by whatever random internal weather state (mood!) I was in. My feelings were my reality, and they were constantly changing. If I felt sad, I WAS sadness. The world was dark and grey and I knew the sun had gone out – even if it was shining right in my eyes. I would moan and scramble, trying one thing after another to escape “this awful feeling”.
If I was happy, I was sure everything would work out fine. No matter how impulsive or impractical my idea, I just knew it was a good one. And if I got really mad, I might smite whatever was in my path with a toxic stink-eye.
It felt like half my life was driven by my feelings and the other half spent cleaning up the messes I’d made. After a couple decades of this, I was bone-tired. Also sick. It literally made me sick to live like this, so reactive to every changeable feeling that came through. My auto-immune system finally took over and went a little haywire.
My body turned on itself and started attacking – growing these small inflammatory tumors on my lungs. It was a physical manifestation of what I’d been doing to myself for years: a “normal” feeling or mood would arise naturally in my bodymind – and I would respond by attacking it and my immediate environment as if it were an intruder.
I was the auto-immune disease.
On looking back I’m grateful for all of it, even the awful weeks before my surgery when everyone thought I had lymphoma. Like pretty much all the painful situations in my life, it was a pointer to something I really needed to change.
Changing was a long, slow process. I’m not even going to tell you how many years I worked at this. But eventually I found the tools and techniques to get some purchase, and finally I started gaining real ground. Then, more recently, I hit a tipping point.
It’s a hard thing to describe, but for about 6 weeks everything turned inside out. I’d had the “spiritual” concepts and the consciousness practices for years, but suddenly, spontaneously,they were my direct experience.
I’d been working with my primary practice of opening more and more deeply to the Flow of life – allowing it to move through my bodymind system in the form of different thoughts and sensations, just letting them be present and watching.
On a regular Tuesday morning I went into this meditation like always. My mind wandered and I started thinking I wasn’t going to have much time to sit before I had to get to work.
The cat jumped on my lap.
I almost pushed her off, but then I had the thought “she is Flow”, and just relaxed. She started kneading and purring, and all at once time seemed to just – stop. It was like my sense of presence, of “right now” – which had been like a cramped, tight doorway – broke open so wide it blew the door off its hinges.
The “now” opened up into this massive, enormous, bottomless, endless place. It was a cavern of open space – and it was me!
From this place, everything looked and felt different. Instead of “me” thinking or feeling, thought and sensation were just happening, like live things with their own currents.
Everything was glorious.
I was glorious.
I was in that space continuously for many weeks, and then gradually shifted into my more typical frame of reference. While I transitioned, it felt like I was in a rolling inversion – moving back and forth between the feelings, thoughts and sensations on the “outside” and their source on the “inside”.
Now I think of the inside-out state as a kind of “openness”, though that’s not really accurate. Paradoxically, in that open, empty space there is a profoundly satisfying “fullness”.
It feels a little like unfurling and furling, like the bud of a tulip. These days I “bloom” when I meditate, speak or teach, and sometimes just spontaneously. I tend to “furl” back in when I prepare my taxes or work on my website or plan something complex.
It’s tricky to talk about exactly what it’s like in the “blooming” space because I can’t remember it in the way I remember specific events or a recipe.
But the axis of my life is altered. I’m living even more in trust of what is. Instead of battling or reacting to it all the time, I’m able to honor the Flow of life through my experience in its waves of feelings, sensations, thoughts, weather, people, situations….
It is SO much more restful this way. The relief is palpable, like a cold spring on a hot dry day. Instead of walking around feeling mildly “on guard”, I’m gilded by gratitude for all that is, including my “scratchy” feelings and “awfulizing” thoughts. I still don’t particularly enjoy them, but I’m no longer pushed around by them.
I believe with all my heart that this is a much more natural state than my old, neurotic “default”.
I’m pretty sure that if someone as reactive as me can even touch it, then it’s available to anyone – including you, if you want it.
My working role has changed as a result of all this. I no longer think of myself as a food coach, but as more of a Flow coach, supporting people in the practices, including the eating ones, that best help them to bloom.
I used to spend all my energy battling what was actually natural, organic, of the Tao, and trying to control and cling to the stuff that wasn’t any of my business – results, outcomes, the future…
By flipping things around – by allowing what comes to come, and letting go of what isn’t actually mine – pretty much everything about my life changed for the better. For me it’s been the taproot of healing, and I think it can be that way for many, many, many of us who are struggling.
May I continue to be of service to the movement of Flow, and all others like myself who wish to find more ease, peace and happiness living our lives in its current.