I am not certain what this will become, just that I know I must write something.
A deep sigh just escaped my lips. I have been ruminating on the present state of our country too much and the weight of trying to bear what I cannot control is increasingly heavy. The logical next right step would be to limit my exposure to all of it and unplug from the internet. That may at least decrease my anxiety, but what I am sensing recently is less about what is happening and more about how it feels just pausing for a moment. There is tension in the air, the energy is off, and I believe this runs deeper than our 3D reality; unease, I suppose, is the most concise way to interpret this – people just seem uneasy. This is evidenced all around us as every major city across the country is facing serious aggression from radical groups lobbying to destroy America from within (I guess my politics is part of my worldview, sorry if mine is offensive to yours but I will speak it anyway). COVID too of course plays a major role in this as competing consensus is pitting neighbor against neighbor (but at least it’s brought the conversation of State’s rights front and center – thank GOD I don’t live in Washington now, but even Texas is swaying to the pressure).
The point is, when I step into the world (and God forbid, not wearing a mask…) I FEEL it. I know it is there because it is within me, and I believe we are all the same, so it is obviously in you (though your perception is obviously different, the underlying emotions and reaction mechanism are the same: Fear is driving for most people now, that much is clear).
We cannot keep going this way. Something HAS GOT TO GIVE. It comes down to this, for me: We all have a choice to make right now, and each moment going forward.
Are we going to STAY in FEAR?
In a constant cycle: This pattern of blame, no accountability, no personal responsibility, and anger? Or, are we all going to STOP for a moment and realize the only way out of this is if we all go within? Before I write myself off as completely witchy-woo hippy “John Lennon” flower child (thanks Dad for the compliment!) let me just intentionally share with you an experience I’ve been dealing with just this week:
As I mentioned above, I have felt the unease in the air since this entire thing began, increasingly heavy by the day, so I have made a conscious choice NOT to be in public as much as possible. This is not because I fear an illness or exposure; I am rational, and I take precautions. It is rather to avoid being exposed to the virus of social pressure and potential ridicule I face because my perspective, my lens on this whole current state of America, is “different” from, well, can I say, “most people” (God I hope it is not really most)? I’ve had to in a sense pull myself back because I understand that it will cause a problem if I try to go to HEB without a mask. I’ve had to pull myself back, socially, because even people I respect and admire whom I considered reasonable people are being outright judgmental of “people like me” because *insert any common talking point from the “majority”, claiming I am on the wrong side of history.
This self-preservation (and, if I am honest, saving the world from my thoughts because I am .72 seconds away from not holding my tongue at the exact WRONG moment, so help me God) has been emotionally EXHAUSTING. Not saying what I think is EXHAUSTING. Not honoring my emotions is EXHAUSTING. Not feeling heard when having an alternative perspective and knowing that my opinion would not even be “acceptable” by people in my own family is EXHAUSTING. Not feeling like I can walk out of my house and be truly FREE and behave as an autonomous, self-sufficient, and reasonable American without pressure to believe something I DO NOT is EXHAUSTING. When did I allow myself to make myself smaller, and why is it that it seems all the reasonable voices now are having to do that? Because, the world has changed, and I FEEL it when I step outside my home.
The thing is, what I KNOW and even struggle with though I know it: This is not on YOU. If I am reacting to you, even “you” the masses – the angry, seething mob that wants to silence me, belittle me, but have no reasonable discussion as to why you want all this change – if I react to ‘you’, that is on ME.
How I feel is my responsibility, not yours. Even if you say the most vile things, even if those things might be true. Even if you go after me, cancel me, expose every skeleton in my closet, can I really sleep at night if I went to bed feeling like this is all your fault that my feelings are hurt, that I am afraid, that I am making myself smaller to avoid your judgment? That is not on you – and I do not want to live in a world where I blame everyone for the shit I already say in my own head.
I have a secret that apparently needs to be shared: HOW YOU FEEL, REACT, BEHAVE, and INTERACT with the world is ENTIRELY on YOU. Nobody did this to you. Nobody holds you down but your own damn mind. Nobody steals your joy unless you ALLOW them. Nobody oppresses you unless YOU ALREADY think you’re oppressed. We were not taught how to see past the limitations placed on us, but we ARE SO MUCH MORE than the sum of what we are taught. You have the CAPACITY within you to be BETTER THAN THIS. We all do.
If I am secure in who I am, then what should I care what you think of me? If I own how I feel, how I react, how I behave, and how I interact with the world. If I STOP, BREATHE, FEEL, and RELEASE what I am holding onto – my resentments, my judgment, my fear, my anger, my insecurities, my history – if I stop saying ‘you people’ are “doing this” to the ME – YOU people?!
We are all “you people”. You are, and so am I. So why is my perspective any less or more valid than yours if we are the same? Well, ask yourself this: What value is victimhood adding to your life – (when you blame others for how you feel, you play the victim…) is that adding to society? Do you actively work on the understanding, do you really accept, that how you feel, react, behave, and interact with the world is REALLY a reflection of how you feel ABOUT YOURSELF? Do you KNOW that to be true? Good, then that is where positive change begins – keep going.
However, though we are “the same” in the fact that we all experience the same emotions, if you are still blaming others for how you feel, react, behave, and interact with the world then I cannot concede that this will bring about positive change. Dig further: Does it FEEL good, when you lay down to sleep at night, to know you did not self-examine your motives and contradictions? Can you really sit in that space of no self-reflection, meanwhile pointing your fingers outward, and feel peaceful? Let alone think that, if we are ALL doing that (which I think most of us are, I do not claim to be perfect even when I say I am trying) then what hope is there, really?
The thing that has been helping me through my “unease” as the world has changed so rapidly, is that I know I can go within and really search for the heart of this unrest. When I step into the world and I am feeling judged, what am I really judging myself for? Am I afraid of other’s perceptions of me when I do not wear a mask, for instance, because perhaps I am not completely convinced, I am “right” and they might say that? Am I concerned that I might get in a confrontation and know that is not productive? (These are just potential “reasons”, it varies from day to day for me what it is I am uneasy about, it is probably the same for you). I am thankful that I am learning how to investigate what I am feeling rather than merely reacting from it: How can I sit in this space and really use it to teach me how to be better?
Right now, stop. For 15 seconds. 30 if you can do it. After that, read on and try and take this to heart.
Right now, breath. Deeply. Take it all the way into your mouth, your throat (oh geez stop with the dirty mind) your chest, your belly. Feel it move in – out. Just. Breath. Close your eyes, you can come back to this…
Right now, FEEL. Where do you notice any tension? Your toes, wiggle them, your legs, contract and release the muscles, any tension there? Move up your body putting focus on each part, as you breath, in – out. When I get to my chest I feel the tension, so I stop, pause, breath, do not react (this is not BAD to feel uncomfortable) SIT IN IT. Examine it. Shed light on it. Say hello, ask it to unveil what it needs to give you for even our pain is a teacher. For me, I’ve learned to witness it – close my eyes and bring my awareness to where the energy is most obvious – sometimes I even see it has a face and a presence, other times the energy is merely a physiological response with no discernable pattern – whatever comes, just allow it to be there). Sit in the space for as long as you need to, you might even observe the tension, the energy, move around your body, rise and fall in intensity, come in waves. Sometimes it hits all at once, sometimes it is just a persistent ache in your chest. Allow it, it is okay to be uncomfortable.
Right now, RELEASE IT, when you feel ready to step back into the moment and bring your awareness outside your body. This may take a lot of practice, but as you observe the tension you can learn to allow it to release from you – some hold it in their back, some their neck, some their throat (sometimes I feel like my tongue is even swelling up, but I have learned to observe it as energy that needs to move through me, even when I can be trapped in the fear that I cannot breathe). It can be intense to allow yourself to be THAT uncomfortable, and I know for myself because I endured PTSD for so many years, that even “allowing” myself to feel it could trigger a full blown panic attack – you have to train yourself to be okay with it hurting, and yes, emotional pain counts (that is all any of this anyway, emotional trigger points we store in our bodies – that is why learning to intentionally contract and release muscles in your body as you scan for tension is good practice, because releasing emotional energy can happen much the same way, you just have to be okay acknowledging it is there!)
… I did not always “meditate”; I’ve never sat a course or even watched much about it, unless you count the hours I’ve observed my husband meditate. He does Vipassana – I think what I just described might be a good synopsis of what John has always taught me about meditating in that tradition but I could have some parts wrong or missing (I am merely a student, after all). I honestly carried a lot of judgment about it for a long time because I was raised Christian and that kind of practice just was never part of my practice or teachings – we often judge what we do not understand. After engaging with plant medicine and especially the MDMA therapy, I learned the value in truly wanting to be PRESENT, and meditation naturally falls in line with those philosophies and practices. I am glad that I am learning how to just observe, because especially right now in the world, we need to quiet our minds and examine how we can TRULY affect positive change, and the more I practice it, the more I realize it HAS to start from within ME.
As I said, I did not know how this would flow, I just knew I had to write something today. To be honest, right now I feel a big of unease rise inside me at the idea that I would share this so openly with the world, but I think being brave reinforces that I am on the right path. God help me if I regress and continually live in a state of fear; it still comes in waves, and right now we are all being tested, but each wave I am ready to dive in and see what I can learn about myself, in the hopes that I will use these lessons to help “you people” that might need it.
Hang in there, brothers and sisters. Self-reflect, stop for a moment, and just feel this out. We cannot lose hope, we must keep striving to be better. If I can do this, so can you.