Gentle effort amidst uncertainty
This isn’t the first time I have written in regard to these latest global changes. I have actually written pages and pages, and unravelled with tears streaming down my face a few times. Also, with searing anger and confusion as to where my place is and what path I need to take from day to day.
However, this time I write with a fresh start. Because everytime I write, it seems that what I have previously written is so yesterday, which is incredibly different from today. Nothing makes much sense right now, but at the same time absolutely everything makes sense.
I’m not sure where to start.
I guess I’ll start with the fact that my heart aches for those who are deeply suffering and in immense pain. I’ve always been one to feel another’s pain, and it has taken effort and practice to not take on other people’s stuff. To be able to stand in my strength and hold the space for such pain and suffering has taken practice. To trust the process and have unwavering faith – that has also taken practice. Lots and lots of consistent practice. A daily practice is still required for me to hold steady.
I think it’s fair to say we have all had our fair share of anxiety as a result of fear and feeling the human collective energy. I’m sure we have also all felt the incredible strength that an entire global family can experience when in such a crisis – a crisis every single person is experiencing simultaneously. What a time to be alive.
Certain things have struck me. I have felt many pivotal points. I have been drawn into the circulating conspiracy theories that seem to make perfect sense. I have questioned our government numerous times and wondered on a daily basis if what we are being fed is true. I have had the strongest urge to move to NZ because their country is run by someone who cares more about their people than the economy, which will enable their economy to come out stronger anyway.
By the way, I am not into politics at all. To be completely honest with you, I probably didn’t even know who ran our country until I was in my 30’s, and I’m 39 now. I refused to enrol to vote until after that, simply because I didn’t want a single thing to do with it. I feel very differently now. Parts of me are embarrassed to be Australian, and parts of me are grateful too. Most of me is grateful actually, regardless of the nonsensical behaviours of those who think they rule….
Anyway, last week was a big one, huh? I had already gone into lockdown and was in that state of being quietly judgmental of those who were still out and about, acting as though this thing wasn’t bigger than all of us. Even if parts of me felt like it was bullshit, the risk of my own ego and uncertainty wasn’t enough not to jump onboard to help flatten the curve.
What struck me first is that not a whole lot in my life changed when we started to self isolate. Except that Brendan had set his office up in our bedroom at home – and we had a few minor run-ins regarding finding our place under each other’s feet for more time than we were used to. That was inevitable, considering we are both fiercely independent with a son who seems to be exactly the same.
I started to feel sad about Nahlo not being able to see his friends. He would ask after them a lot and I would do my best to explain to a 2.5 year old that we had to stay home, because people were getting sick and we needed to protect Grandma and other people who were at risk. He actually seemed to understand that, and fully understands that he can no longer go to the shop on the occasion that I have had to go. I have watched my internal monologue as I explain to this little guru who seems to understand and accept everything when I talk about the law of impermanence. ‘Seriously, am I talking to my 2 year old son about impermanence already?’ It seems so.
When I thought I wasn’t going to be able to see my mum, that was a rock bottom moment for me. I ceased to give a shit about anything in those moments when my mind ran to places of full-bodied fear. The mental story of my mother’s decline taking her to a place of not remembering me and her grandson almost too much to bear. I crumbled and bawled my eyes out as Nahlo stood aside and whimpered, ‘Mumma – tissue?’ in the sweetest tiny voice. He wiped my face like I do his and his little hopeful voice asked, ‘Better now?’ Time is unforgiving when it comes to dementia.
My steepest learning curve has been to alter our yoga teacher training swiftly, from an in-house, face to face experience, to one that is now in a virtual classroom. I battled with this. I was disappointed and felt truly in between a rock and a hard place. The uncertainty of how long this is all going – the fact that one moment, we had excitedly kick-started the online component, then two weeks later, had our opening ceremony on ground shaky enough that three of the students had to be live streamed into the event. Then we went to a sudden lockdown, giving us under a week to sort something out with zero knowledge of how to do so. It’s interesting that you can resist something for so many years and then learn it in a matter of days if you need to.
When I started my business, I was all about the hustle. Many years later, I’m less hustle and more flow. I still thrive under pressure and actually, during the very first stages of this pandemic, I was strangely excited. I love change and I love a challenge. The anxiety that followed was fairly severe, which I feel most people would have experienced, even without awareness of where it was coming from. Energy travels like that. Globally, we were and are going through a crisis – this is nothing less than uncertain and uneasy times, which is going to send a ripple effect of angst through anyone who has a heartbeat, at some point. From what I can gather, the week starting Sunday 29 March and moving into April was a fucking big one. It still is.
I hit a full tilt hustle and surprised myself with the memory of how well I worked under pressure. In more recent years, I have experienced uncomfortable self-judgments as I seem to run late more, cancel more, and just generally be more flakey than I had ever been before – hello motherhood! Put me in a crisis and I seem to be able to hold it together ok, especially if I have no time to feel into it because I’m in hustle mode. Oh. That’s right. All those years of hustle was actually me running away from the present moment. Yep! And we have arrived back to that old pattern.
In all seriousness though, that was a tough week. The steep learning curve was dealing with my own personal disappointments while learning how to grasp teaching in a virtual classroom. That was hard for me. As I moved through and spoke to each unique and beautiful individual, I was immensely inspired by the willingness that was dished out to keep on moving. The openness that was cultivated through such a diverse shift in paradigms of delivery made me really feel this ‘in this together’ kinda love. I fully trust that the tools of this practice will help anyone through these tough times. In all this uncertainty, that, I know.
I had no idea where we were going, but an unwavering daily sitting practice gave me a steady, consistent and concise clarity that would only shine upon the next few hours in time and space – because looking any further than that was completely impossible. Everything was changing so much as this new Earth was shaking off the shit and unravelling completely to breathe in amongst the chaos that we as humans have rained down on it.
Now, as far as where we are going, I know it’s to a dimension through a time in space (AKA now) where we get the opportunity to utilise this newly stumbled across interval to rewrite where we are headed. To ask those bigger questions and to elevate our ability to tap into clarity, peace and balance – qualities that perhaps we lost through a clouded illusion that we came to believe was a reality we wanted.
In amongst all the uncertainty, I know many of us deeply know. Know that this is an important part of the global rising. An expansion of awareness where we have the opportunity to ascend out of the depths of ignorance, into the open and loving arms of consciousness. Even if the shake up feels fierce, deep down we know it’s an opportunity to get out of the way of ourselves and straighten a few things out. Perhaps ditch some old belief systems, bring in more of what makes us happy and let go of all the shit that weighs us down. There ain’t no better time to do that than now, during a time where we are forced to stop and reflect, ‘Was I truly deeply happy before the rug got completely and violently swept out from under me?’ This is the question you want to be gently asking yourself.
Because this is a beautiful time to be creating some gentle change, but unless you have an unshakable calling from a place beyond the confines of your mind, this is not the time to start huge and new projects. It is not a time to pressure yourself to be productive or beat yourself up about not doing a whole lot.
Saying that, because the initial shock and business that was suddenly injected into my life in such a way that could only be handled in the fight or flight response, I have found that small and nourishing projects have been amazing for my spirit. Things and activities that I have always wanted to do, but never seemed to have the time. With Nahlo, drying out seeds from our tomatoes, passionfruit and papaya. Watching the ants eat the pulp. Planting them in pots of dirt. Watering them every morning and then getting excited when they sprout has been so much more rewarding than hurrying through it.
Making oat milk to a perfection that has seen the boys looking forward to it being the go-to for enjoying with their morning cereal – and then getting creative with the pulp and making oat pulp muffins, and the fun part – rubbing it all over our faces and using it as a face mask.
Baking, baking, baking – the smell of baking permeates the air. Brendan making bread and me making cakes, slices and muffins. Nothing has changed here – all of these rituals I have listed are not new in our household, but the way that they are delivered has altered. There is more presence, more gratitude – and I guess Nahlo is at an age now where he can be involved in a really meaningful way.
I have a few other projects on the agenda with no real attachment to the end result. Making soap, helping build a new raised garden bed out of old wood that’s been sitting around forever. And lots and lots of cooking things from scratch. We have constantly got something soaking: beans, legumes, cashews. All waiting to be made slowly into something creative and nourishing.
There is a whole lot going on right now, and the collective nervous system, which is inclusive of our own individual ones, is rattled. This is a time for slowing down and allowing the internal processing machine to find its centre. Steadiness is our best contribution. To find that, we need to be still. We need to allow all of our feelings to bubble to the surface, pop and disperse. We need to be present and connect to the anchoring qualities of the mundane. Because when we do this we are able to meet our feelings, and only when we meet our feelings can we feel if we are happy. If we were happy. Only then can we grieve our lives that we knew before the shit hit the fan, and feel the discomfort of letting go of everything we thought we had control over, but didn’t.
All this stuff about being grateful – that is wonderful. It’s a vital key to happiness. However, we do not use it to sweep shit under the rug. We can be grateful and feel torn apart. We can be grateful and feel helpless and frustrated. We can feel grateful and fucking scared, all wrapped in the same bubble of splendid chaos. This is the law of duality. The polarizing truth that there is no good versus bad. No right versus wrong. They coexist within each other. There is not one without the other. Sinking into gratitude is a natural way for me after years of practice. To deeply feel a full-bodied thank you for having access to clean water, food and a roof over my head is a practice I have woken up to daily for well over 10 years. This simple and profound practice has set my mood to one that very rarely wakes up on the wrong side of bed. I have realised that happiness is a choice. A choice that took consistent effort and practice.
I also allow myself to get angry, to get sad, to cry, and to talk about things that grate me up the wrong way. To execute these things gracefully has also taken practice, and to this day it continues to be a practice with those who are closest to me. It’s not always pretty, but my pledge to growth and evolution and to follow my aspirations – my vow – is of utmost importance to me. I actually cannot think of anything that trumps that. My vow.
So, I practice. In all of my fire and the relentless air that fans those flames (Its a very Vata time and I am a very Vata person), I practice in a way that cultivates earth and grounding to maintain steadiness. Just to maintain steadiness. And because of this very practice, I touch peace and clarity. Every. Single. Day.
I hope you do too. And if you don’t, know that you can too.
It just takes practice. Consistent and gentle effort.