Then there is the inaugural of our new president with all of its attendant political issues from insurrectionists and virus alike. Riots are threatened, but mostly we wait to see if this new president can do what he’s promised. The old authoritarian structures are breaking down all around us as we try to live our lives amidst the energetic rubble. Negative stress.
In odd juxtaposition with the outer world’s struggles, I gave birth to new aspects of my spiritual self at a small women’s retreat. At the risk of sounding woo-woo, I spread my angel wings. Words hardly do the experience justice. My inner life shifted dramatically as I stepped up and expanded into my Divine Feminine Self. I was stunned by this seemingly sudden transformation. Positive stress.
As it turned out, it was right on time. I, along with two other women, co-facilitated the first two classes of, Goddess: Seven Rings of the Heart. A course all about healing through Goddess energy and connecting with the Divine Feminine within.
Despite the fact that I have a Master’s degree in Education, facilitating this course pushes my comfort envelope. I have to be willing to step into my larger Self to do this material justice, and my small self balks at the exposure. Be that as it may, I’ll breathe and meditate through it, intending grace and ease as I move into the next class. Positive stress.
And January was not yet done with me.
Several days ago, I had a Zoom meeting with the developmental editor, Fritze Roberts, who I hired for Contract with a Guardian. She gave me some wonderfully insightful ideas for how to rework parts of the story arc to deepen and expand it. I’m thrilled with the possibilities. I’m also looking at months of rewriting. Positive stress.
The thing is, my body doesn’t know the difference between positive and negative stress. She has a set number of responses to anything that registers as stressful. My heart rate speeds up, my underarms and hands feel clammy and my body would really like to jump up and run around, or run away. As the stressful conditions persist, I’m looking at bouts of racing heart. A most uncomfortable sensation.
Exercise and getting outside help, giving my body something to do with that excess adrenaline. But what really supports me is regular meditation.
This week, I was busy and tired and missed a couple of days of meditation. My thoughts veered toward worry without my conscious volition. The peaceful feeling inside that is a result of regular meditation drained slowly away. The changes were subtle and I might have gone on like that for several more days. But my body stepped up with a short episode of racing heart. It was just enough to say, “Hey! Pay attention here. You’ve forgotten something.”
The racing heart thing is rare for me, but then so is the particular combination of stressors in my life right now. I take it for the communication that it is.
The physical stress responses in my body are initiated by the thoughts I think about whatever is going on. That’s why meditation makes such a difference. It’s like a reset button, bringing me back into alignment. When I am meditating regularly, the worry thoughts become less important. I feel an underlying sense of peace. I am aware of the love in my heart. My focus shifts from fear to love.
Meditation really works for me.
Will I miss meditation days in the future? Probably. But if I do, I’ll intend to get back to it before my body has to reprimand me.
I imagine this new year has more adventure in store for all of us. Let’s intend that should it be stressful it be positive stress. That sounds good. But even if some of the other kind sneaks in there, lets intend that we support ourselves to keep shifting from fear back into love.
Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash
I've been through a number of dog training (really, owner training) classes. I know the fundamentals of dog training. But I quickly ran through my repertoire. In desperation, I finally told him to “Sit!” trying to give him something else to do. Much to my amazement, he obediently sat and looked up at me expectantly. I patted him and effusively told him what a good boy he was. That was all he needed. He stood up, Goldie’s leash forgotten, and trotted off to look for other adventure. I stared after him, bemused.
Still feeling anxious and irritable when I got back home, I went upstairs to my office, thinking that I needed to do something to fix my feelings. (Wouldn’t you think I’d know better by now?) I sat for a moment gathering myself and realized what I needed was not to fix or struggle against my feelings, but to redirect my ego fears. Just like with that young dog who couldn’t stop grabbing the leash, I needed to give my ego something else to do, to distract myself from continually grabbing onto anxiety. I needed to change my focus and place my attention on love, telling my ego to, “Sit!”
The easiest way for me to do that was by listening to Dr. Joe Dispenza’s short meditation, GoLov-20.
After that, I felt calmer and more balanced. I was able to appreciate the lesson offered me by a young golden retriever. He reminded me that struggling against anything becomes an energy loop, attracting more of the same. Redirection into positive action, positive thought, appreciation and love, is what resolves the issue. This works with anxious, irritable blog writers as well as with young dogs.
It also works with young children. The best way to handle my five-year-old grandson when he just can’t seem to stop himself from doing something he has been asked not to do, is to redirect him into something positive. Because he doesn’t really want to misbehave, he’s just stuck in a loop, he takes the cue and throws his considerable energy into the redirected positive activity. Then, both he and his harried grandmother (me) feel better, and the negative thought cycle we both participated in is redirected into a positive thought loop. That positive thought loop attracts more positive thought.
I can tell which loop I’m participating in by the way I feel inside. I’ve tried the negative thought loop on for size for a couple of days now, and I don’t like the fit. It’s uncomfortable, and just keeps getting tighter and tighter. I’m going to try on a positive thought loop for a while and see how that feels.
This idea has bigger implications as well. Our nation has been in a collective, negative thought cycle since the inception of the pandemic, perhaps even longer. This negative cycle has rapidly escalated with recent events. Each of us has the choice now, whether to continue to participate in this collective negativity by struggling against it and worrying about it, feeling more and more anxious, or we can redirect our thinking into more positive thought loops. As each of us redirects our focus into positive channels we attract additional positivity. In time that will ripple outward, and the collective will be able to respond with more positive thought, creating more and more positive action.
My inside is smiling now.
Photo by Julieta Simone on Unsplash
Where do we look for the exit from this spinning hamster wheel of survival fear? There must be a way we can we make 2021 different, more positive than 2020.
As individuals we may not be able to do much about the world events swirling about our lives, but we can look to our inner environment. That’s where we can create a 2021 that feels and lives on a different, more positive level than we may have in 2020. We can hop off this hamster wheel, open the door to the cage and step out into the fresh air, one appreciative moment at a time.
The other day I was enjoying our backyard. It is bordered by trees, standing like sentinels at the edge of a grassy field. The tallest are the black locust, their bare black-brown branches reaching high into the sky. In front of them stand the junipers, dusty green and full. As I gazed at the treetops high above, branches outlined against the sky, I saw two squirrels chase each other up the trunk of a black locust, all the way out onto the twiggy ends of the uppermost branches that just barely supported their weight. Then they leapt into the air, one after another. The grey forms seemed to hang suspended in midair, their agile bodies curved like commas in a sentence, heads, tails, and paws reaching for the juniper branches below. Then the juniper caught them like a loving parent, in branches that bent and swayed beneath the aerialists, breaking their fall. The squirrel chase continued on down into the thick foliage of the juniper and I saw no more of them.
The image of that leap stayed with me. Later that day, this quote from Abraham-Hicks showed up in my email inbox. I had to laugh. The message was clear.
“By thinking and speaking more of how you really want your life to be, you allow what you are currently living to be the jumping-off place for so much more. But if you speak predominantly of what-is, then you still jump off —but you jump off into more of the same.”
2020 was our jumping off place, the twiggy ends just barely supporting us as we leapt off into 2021. The question is what are we jumping off into? Will it be more of the same?
As I type, a fire crackles in the woodstove beside where I sit, embraced by our once white, leather barrel chair. The chair is marked and speckled with years of laughing, spinning grandchildren and territorial felines. Golden flames dance above the dark shadow of wood in the hearth and the fire warms me as I turn to look out the wood-framed bay window of our living room. A wintry mix of rain, snow and sleet is decorating the branches of the crabapple which shelters the front of our home. Frozen droplets of rain hang like twinkle lights strung along every branch. Tiny, burgundy red crabapples dangle below, each one encased in ice. A slate sky hangs above, contributing an increasing supply of much-needed moisture to branch, berry and ground. The usual community of birds who frequent the crabapple are nowhere to be seen. No doubt they are hunkered down within the sheltering branches of the junipers.
It feels good to hunker down myself, safe, warm and dry, and consider this transition time in which we now find ourselves.
The biggest lesson for me from this passing year is that of letting go of how I think things should be and appreciating what is. Throughout the year, unexpected and unwelcome events kept piling up and it became clear that I couldn’t anticipate what the next month or even the next week would look like. I had to let go of my ideas of what was, and allow what is and what could be. Most of all, I had to learn to take pleasure in the positive parts of my life that I might have taken for granted, but do no longer.
I learned at a whole new level, how to enjoy the little things, spread over the branches of my life, like berries from a tree, waiting for me to savor and appreciate. A warm fire, a good roof over my head, the beauty of nature just outside the window, the antics of my grandchildren as posted on Facebook with riotous subtitles by their Dad, the love and health of family and friends, my own health, learning how to use Zoom, my small yellow-lab, dancing and twirling on the end of her leash, hip-checking the neighbor’s huge, young golden, plenty of toilet paper, paper towels, and food to eat. And did I mention toilet paper? I have a whole new appreciation for that humble roll of white. Everyday life, so easy to take for granted just because it is always there.
Until it’s not.
We are lucky here in the Midwest. The shortages of supplies have been short-lived. The pandemic has been survivable for most. The political situation hasn’t affected our everyday lives too, too much. Yet, as each thing threatened from the outer world, the little everyday things we depend on became that much more precious.
I look out the window once again and a single robin, harbinger of hope, alights in the crabapple and helps herself to the frozen crabapple banquet spread before her. 2021 stands before us, a banquet of tiny, delicious moments awaiting us. May we be as the robin, hope-filled, braving the storm, and appreciative of each moment of happiness and enjoyment spread before us in 2021. May we be as the squirrels, leaping off into a new year that supports and holds us in loving embrace.
Happy New Year to you, dear friends.
Photo by Silje Roseneng on Unsplash
Life is full of spiritual lessons. Some feel good, some not so good. All support us to grow. This blog is about my life lessons. Perhaps you'll find yourself within these stories.