On this, the first day of the second half of this year of Retreat, I have been reflecting on what I’ve experienced so far, and contemplating what’s to come. My word for the year was Retreat, with the clarifying words being rest, practice, balance, and transformation. Retreat, a time to remove myself from the usual expectations and obligations, to study and practice.
My life, my experience, my path in the last six months has been 1000 shades of love, 1000 shades of weird, 1000 shades of magic. Sometimes, I feel like a starfish caught on the beach, moving as fast as I can but my progress barely perceptible to others, or like a butterfly just out of the chrysalis, slightly confused about my new state of being, sitting on a branch waiting for my wings to dry. I am utterly transformed, but exactly the same. I am as I always was, but suddenly awake, and in that way so completely different.
Through all the classes, blogging and regular features, writing and meditation retreats, workshops, books, challenges, practices, the genuine and constant effort of the past six months, I feel a little like I’ve been in graduate school, earning a Master’s of Arts in Wholehearted Living, a Master’s of Science in Applied Practice, a Master’s of Fine Arts in Loving. My teachers and guides have been Susan Piver, Andrea Scher, Susannah Conway, Brene’ Brown, Laurie Wagner, Jen Lemen, Jennifer Louden, Rachel Cole, Patti Digh, Geneen Roth, Anne Lamott, Julia Cameron, Jamie Ridler, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Pema Chodron, my dogs, and so many others, along with an amazing group of fellow students on the same path–many of whom I’ll be meeting and connecting with at the World Domination Summit later this week.
I still struggle with perfectionism, with lack of self-care and self-love, with being gentle with myself and present with my experience, and yet so much has changed. I don’t suffer from the crushing depression I did for so long. I’m not riddled with anxiety and stress. My path is no longer muddled by confusion or lack of clarity. Surprisingly, much of the transformation has been remembering who I am rather than becoming something else, about getting clear about the purpose and superpowers born into the world with me, a repeated mantra of “This is me. I am enough and I have enough. This is who I am, wise and compassionate and powerful.”
I still struggle to rest. I know intellectually how important it is, that I can’t give what I hope to from a place of overwhelm or exhaustion, that self-care is really just another way of ensuring the quality of my offering–but I long to know this in my gut, in my blood and bones, deep in my heart, to embody it fully. To practice it in the same way I do so many other things that are essential, that I do regularly without having to apply any special effort, like making 1/2 a cup of coffee in the morning, feeding and walking my dogs, or writing morning pages, these things that happen each and every day, no question and no matter what.
Since rest is still an issue for me, balance has not been achieved–I find it for brief moments, but it’s not yet sustainable. I still work too much, which means I don’t eat or sleep or exercise or play like I should. Practice, which is deeper and richer (yoga, meditation, writing, reading, dog, walking/hiking, and love) is helping me to contemplate, consider, creep my way towards a middle path, a middle way. I have confidence, curiosity, and more clarity than ever, so there’s no despair or smashing myself to bits about it, (most of the time, anyway).
I’ve experienced so many things I wished for, longed for, imagined and dreamed about–my sense of what is possible has been expanded and reinforced to such a degree that I can start to relax a bit, sink into being, into the present moment, into “this minute of eternity.”
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ~Rumi