Yesterday my husband, Brad, and I were on a hike that crossed many streams and rivers. At one of the many pauses at a bridge overlooking the river, I noticed the shadows of waterbugs on the bottom of the water at the edge of the river.
Their skinny bodies were so interestingly exaggerated by the reflection! Watching them, it was like I had an inside view of what inspires Hayao Miyazaki’s animated creatures.
I have this sense of wonder after time spent in nature. I feel more childlike. Able to see beyond the mundane.
Have you felt the mundane? Have you noticed the rhythm of life feeling like a single path that has been walked over and over and over creating a groove you can't seem to get out of?
Boy, I have.
And I’ve been walking that path for a while partially from the effects of how COVID has shifted life. I have simply been doing life. Not sensing the richness, the fullness, just the daily routine creating a groove of a path like a poor dog chained in the backyard circling the extent of her world.
But something hit me when I was listening to Wayne Dyer speak not too long ago and he quoted Lao Tzu as saying,
"You are not doing anything. You are being done."
That’s a powerful statement.
And I wished it were true, but I haven’t allowed myself to be done. I took over the reins fully and created this path. Again. :)
What I've learned from this is that it's up to me to let go of the reins, conditioning (samskara, for you yogis) and step off the worn, circular path. If I were in a boat, I'd have no control over the direction the water takes me, but I do have the rudder and the ability to guide.
Luckily, I’m taking an already scheduled sabbatical (big thanks to my 2020 self for scheduling this!) to pause the doing. To step out of the narrowly worn path, the groove I’ve created by routine and following the voice that is telling me to let go.
I may not be strong enough to honor such a request. To simply let go and "be done." I may not recognize that I've turned the boat around and am struggling upriver.
I know I am being led to listen to that inner voice that has always been there, a voice I’ve simply chosen to listen to when I'm not challenged by my circumstances and it's simply easier to step into the path and "do" life. You know the grind. We all have the daily "to do" list that we check off, stepping into the linear life and forgetting to wonder.
Bronnie Ware's powerful book, The Top FIve Regrets of the Dying, exposes the number one regret in life: not listening to the inner voice. Inner voice comes in many different expressions, definitions, but it boils down to living a life that is true to the self, which is honoring that inner voice beyond all.
To hear our inner voice takes practice. One really needs solitude. Quiet contemplation. And the ability to let go of the reins.
For me, it's making time to be inspired by the reflections of skimming water bugs on the bottom of a stream. Allowing that inner voice to guide me to pause and witness a different perspective.
Getting to that inner voice means I have to quiet physically, emotionally, and mentally so that the essence of me is present and the sage inner voice can be heard and expressed.
1. Physically, I quiet through the nurturing, slow movements of taiji and qigong.
2. Emotionally, I find it through softening simply asking the question: "Where is the love here?" In every situation, from deeply connected to frustratingly chaotic, asking this question keeps me from fight, flight, freeze or feign. It tethers me to my essence.
3. Mentally, I find it through all kinds of meditation. When I close my big mouth and simply listen to whatever is there to be heard.
It isn't easy. And I find myself learning these lessons over and over again. Perhaps going a little deeper each time. Sometimes going back to square one. But it's wholly worth the trip. And I'm so grateful to have carved some time to be in that boat and let myself be done.
When do you know you've taken the reins and aren't listening to your sage inner voice? How do you connect back in?
Sometimes it helps to be reminded that you're not alone on this path to being fully present in your life. Stay connected with simple practices, reminders and humor that come in my monthly newsletter.
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