How do you take care of yourself when foot baths, tea, and self-care are not enough? What spiritual nourishment do you need for a hungry soul? How can you comprehend that you don’t feel safe and comfortable for a while?
When you are at a tipping point in your life, for example after a big loss, when it is all or nothing, it can feel like the ground is sinking under your feet. In search of something to hold on to, clichés are no longer worth anything, and ‘everything will be fine’ is something you may say to reassure people, but no longer something you believe.
It’s moments when you’re standing on a border: it’s like everyone’s at a big party and dancing late into the night, and you’re standing on the edge looking out at the dark forest. In such border situations, stability does not lie with stability, but with what changes. That is why looking at the sea or a stream is beneficial but also staring out the window of a moving train.
Go in the direction of the least resistance
“Everything we experience is a spectrum of vibrations – light, sound, smell, tactile feelings, emotions, everything. We live in the midst of a woven tapestry in which all these different spectra of various kinds of vibrations are the rift. If you don’t have one, you wouldn’t have the other, because the two are needed to reveal the pattern. We are patterns in a weaving system. We wouldn’t be here without the interlocking of all these different spectra of dimensions. And when a vibration reaches one point, we think it’s too much, and when it falls back to another, we think it’s not enough.
On the one end, the vibration is so subtle that we could fall asleep, but at the other end we may feel that things could burst, where during that experience of tension someone could panic, and we recommend relaxing and taking it easy
. But often that doesn’t work. So I tell someone who can’t relax to go into that tension. Go in the direction of least resistance – scream, get violent inside, anything like that. Anyway, it doesn’t matter which way you go when the boat of life starts to rock, but I think it’s better to rock with it than against it.’ (From: Away from Thought, Alan Watts)
Alan Watts does not call any of these states ‘good’ or ‘bad’. By not judging whether something is just, fair or right, he shows that there are really only two options. Are you looking for resistance or do you go with the flow? And yes, even Alan Watts will scream. Because one thing is clear when your world is turned upside down: your certainty is gone and if you cling to a sinking ship, you won’t stay above water for long.
The possibilities without certainty
“Without what I call the ‘wisdom of not knowing, it is difficult to leave the safe haven of the known behind and venture into the vast, unpredictable sea of growth and change. Certainty may calm our anxious souls, but it closes the door to possibilities.
Moreover, when the known overshadows the unknown, we renounce our infinite life for a false finite existence.’ (From The Wisdom of Not-Knowing, Estelle Frankel) We love what we know, about acquaintances, coming home, hearing a song from the past, and tasting favorite foods. But Estelle Frankel shows that there are opportunities where certainty is lacking. But how can you trust that turmoil?
Anxiety, fear, and not running away from it
“Fear of the unknown affects all of us. Meditation has two benefits: while it helps us overcome our immediate fear, it also increases our awareness of the thought patterns that cause fear. During meditation, you become aware of how fear affects you. Notice how fear lives in your body and how it plays tricks on your mind, making you foresee disasters that may or may not ever happen.
As you become aware of your fearful thought patterns and the way fear lives in your body, you can begin to let go of those patterns. Notice how your body becomes tense when you have anxious thoughts. By noticing the presence of fear in your body, you can begin to let go of it and return your body to a place of calm and well-being.
Become aware of your fears
When fear sets in, observe how your mind tries to bend all unknown factors into possible disaster. Instead of believing your anxious thoughts, simply label them as “anxious thoughts.” As you notice and observe them, you become aware of your thoughts. Your awareness gives you a certain amount of freedom. Instead of believing all your thoughts, you can choose to let them go and instead relax into all that is unknown.
By being aware of our fears, we have the opportunity to overcome them and be more patient with the unknown. Mindfulness makes us better equipped to wait and see how life actually unfolds, rather than trying to predict a future that may or may never come.” (Out: The Wisdom of Not-Knowing, Estelle Frankel)
Estelle Frankel asks us to let the anxiety be what it is, and let the fear be what it is. Sometimes a troubled soul feels like a magnet for other misfortunes, but dare you let it be what it is? Do you dare to wait in the tipping moment until the tipping comes? Are you brave enough to accept that you can handle what’s to come?
The world is a mirror of our soul
“If you sit quietly for a while, completely relaxed, and let your thoughts run wild, let your mind think what it wants, without interfering with it, without your input, and without hindering the free flow of thought, you soon discover that spiritual processes take on a life of their own.
They bring each other into your consciousness by association, and if you don’t hinder them, you soon find yourself thinking the most wonderful and terrible things that normally keep you out of your consciousness. Over time, this exercise shows you that you have potentially countless different beings within you – the animal, the demon, the lecher, the thief, the murderer – that after a while you can feel that no aspect of human life you are strange: I think nothing of the human race is alien to me.
Under normal circumstances, consciousness constantly mixes with the waters of the mind, which are dark and turbulent, hiding the depths. But if you give them free rein for a while, the mire settles and as the clarity increases, you see the foundations of life and what dwells in the depths. You may also see other things. ‘Two men looked into a pond.
One man said, “I see an amount of mud, a shoe, and an old can.” The other man said, ‘I see them all, but I also see the brilliant reflection of the sky.’” The unconscious is not a spiritual dump as some people think. It is simply unfettered nature, demonic and divine, painful and pleasurable, repulsive and full of beauty, cruel and compassionate, destructive and creative.
It is the source of heroism, love, and inspiration, as well as fear, hatred, and crime. It truly seems that we carry within us an exact copy of the world around us, for the world is a mirror of our soul, and the soul is a mirror of the world. So when you learn to feel the unconscious, you begin to understand not only yourself but also others, and when you look at human crimes and stupidities, you can say with an authentic sense that you might as well have committed them.’ (From Happier Than You Think, Alan Watts)
Rest in troubled times is looking for words that do not judge, but create possibilities so that you can take the next step after the intense period full of new life lessons. In this way, you will continue to mirror the world and the world you,
but nothing is strange to you.