I heard the wind come up from behind and whirled about to see if anyone was there, although logically I knew there was no one. This annoyed me. I didn’t want to feel fearful on my favorite woods walk. In the past, I might have dealt with this by redirecting my thoughts, or I might have cut short my walk and gone home. This time, I was inspired to try a different approach. I breathed into the fear. I allowed myself to feel it inside and breathe into it. After a few deep breaths, I was surprised to discover that underneath the fear was a feeling of excitement. The more I breathed into it, the more I felt the excitement.
The fear melted away. The dark, snow-lined branches surrounding me looked beautiful now. The drifting snowflakes like magic. I closed my eyes and breathed into that feeling, feeling myself expanding out of the constricted state of fear right into a feeling of connection and alignment. I pulled energy up from Mother Earth and into my heart. I pulled energy down from the Great Central Sun and into my heart. I felt the connection and sent love out and in, up and down. I pushed my hood down and turned to feel the exhilaration of the wind on my face. An amazing experience begun in fear!
What a concept, fear is excitement without the breath. But what is the excitement? Perhaps it is the realization that I don’t have to be afraid of fear. I don’t have to struggle against it. There’s a thought.
Before I started on the path of spiritual development, I spent most of my life feeling afraid. Then I learned that I could take charge of my thoughts and change my experience. It was amazing. The flip side of that, however, was that I struggled against feeling fear, anxiety, stress. Telling myself that if I could just keep my thoughts positive, I wouldn’t be dragged into those negative emotions. My thoughts took another tack then and turned into a litany of criticism for not staying positive. Sigh. What we resist, persists.
We don’t always manage to stay positive and maybe that's OK. After all, we chose to incorporate in this dual Universe of plus-minus, positive-negative, for the experience of both sides of the coin.
What if we greeted fear simply as an one expression of life? What if we choose to allow the feeling, breathe into it and BE with it. As we release the struggle, it will rumble through, rather like that freight train of wind blowing past, clearing the air so that we can experience the connection and love which lie just behind.
Given this experience, next time fear comes up, I might greet it with a deep breath and a feeling of positive anticipation. Hey, it could happen.
OK, I thought, nevermind the bugs, thirty minutes. That’s all I have to do. Focus Holly.
I narrowed my visual field and chose one set of shelves, telling myself that was all I needed to tackle today. I could organize one set of shelves in that time, right?
Thirty minutes later my phone played a happy, if somewhat muffled jingle from the back pocket of my jeans and I looked up to realize I had accomplished more than I set out to do. One whole wall of the pantry was neatly organized. I had a pile of recycling outside the door and a bag of trash. The children’s chairs sat in the next room awaiting their new home. Paper goods sat primly in their own corner of the space. Plastic containers, out of season kitchen equipment, disinfectants and cleaners occupied another set of shelves. Serving dishes and items for entertaining took up still another, ready for the next party. The time had whisked by and I was pleased with how much more open the pantry felt. I almost didn’t want to stop there, but I knew that if I left the job feeling that way, it would be much easier for me to pick it up again the next day.
Within a few days, the pantry was reorganized and I'd enjoyed the whole process, celebrating the product of my efforts. And that’s the secret, enjoying the process as well as the product.
But what could possibly have been enjoyable about organizing the basement pantry? I mean really, it’s the basement. The concrete floor and walls are cold. There might be spiders, or worse, those thousand-legged crawly things that jump out at you when you move stuff off the basement floor. Shiver. How is that a good time?
Well, let’s take another look at what actually happened.
First, I set a timer. I limited the amount of time I would have to spend on that particular job, on that particular day. This allowed me to quiet the voice in my head that whined about what a big job this was and kept asking me if I wouldn’t rather be reading that good book I started last night.
Limiting the time also encouraged me to focus my attention. I had to narrow my field of vision. No falling down the rabbit hole of figuring out where those children’s chairs or anything else that didn't belong were going to end up. Just pick them up and move them out of the pantry so I could reach the set of shelves I was working on.
As I focused my attention, I got fully present with what I was doing, and that is the key to enjoyment. I had all my attention centered in the process. I knew I wouldn’t finish the pantry that day. I wasn’t rushing or thinking about the future product of my efforts. I was attending to what I was doing in each present moment, flowing from one into the next, and that was really enjoyable. In fact, I’m looking forward to my next reorganization project.
Also, not a spider in sight, and the crawlees kept to themselves. 😉
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.