Gratitude, Joy, Oneness, Service, Purpose and Meaning (Day 1178 – Day 1209)
Every year when December hits, there seems to follow a wave of nostalgia. I’m guessing this is because as children, the season was so heightened in our imaginations. We look back and remember times past. But do we remember things as they really were? I doubt it. And just so, come December, we look back on the year.
As John Lennon sang: “So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, and a new one just begun.”
I hear a lot of people talking and writing about how awful 2017 was and how they are ready to be done with this garbage year. Whether it was, or it wasn’t a good year (on balance) in our lives, I’m not sure that that putting our lives in review like this is a helpful practice.
You may have noticed that I’ve been absent a lot more this year from the website. I’ve been working through some challenging times in my life and writing publicly about it whilst knee deep in having to take action would not be helpful. And so, I’ve been much more private in my gratitude practice lately. That does not mean I have not been practicing.
In fact, I wanted to make sure that if I wasn’t reflecting at least weekly, on this site, that I picked up again a daily practice in my private writing. I write every day (or at least that is the intention although it does not always happen) and at the end of around 1000 words, I stop and do my gratitude practice. And, I have found that what neuroscience is showing to be true really does happen. Daily gratitude practice provides a pathway to resilience for those of us that are facing difficult times in our lives.
Returning to a daily practice has been wonderful. Within a few weeks, I can see an older version of myself returning – she’s not completely formed. She is more like a scent that lingers like a memory. She is the positive, happy, beautiful, confident and a spiritually lit soul. In the midst of abuse, she took refuge and fled. I get glimpses of her at times and when I do, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for her presence. Life brings all kinds of horrible events into our lives and sometimes we get beaten into the ground by them. And, I believe that part of us can split off and dissociate and if it is traumatic enough, we can experience what the Shaman would call soul loss. Even more severe might cause something that only a psychiatrist could name.
For me, I am so grateful to say that she has remained close to me and I attribute this to the support of a lot of spiritually powerful friends, as well as a lifetime of work on my own spiritual and mental health. Still, as a result of a pretty hard run of it, I had lost the ability to truly feel joy for most of 2017 and some of 2016. This is not so much of a surprise as it might at first seem. When a heart closes down and numbs out the pain of life, it also numbs the joy.
I was frustrated with this and did not want my future to be one of a numb nothingness.
I’ve taken refuge from everything that wasn’t working. Although a source of comfort and community, I’ve even been away from my spiritual group for a couple of months. I found it very difficult to meditate because my meditation practice is that of meditating on the heart and with love in the heart. I had closed my heart and so meditation was difficult and frustrating. Rather than perpetuate an idea that I could not meditate, I decided to go to the root of the problem. I never felt disconnected from what I would call the Beloved (or you might call God, or the Divine Quantum) but I could not FEEL the Beloved in my heart.
Something else happened for me, instead, in these meditations. The direction I received was specific and practical. I had some work to do.
And so, I’ve taken it to heart. Part of acting on that direction has required me to be offline for awhile and I’m getting to the point where I feel I have nearly achieved what was asked of me, and for that I am grateful.
I’ve mentioned this year that joy has been difficult for me this year because joy requires an open heart. Trying to open the heart by approaching it directly, can cause the defenses to heighten and make the matter worse. And so, unable to meditate, I followed the sound of my soul. And so, I’ve been singing.
I’ve spent the last month taking a peculiar kind of singing class. It has been a joy to be able to feel Oneness through the intimacy of improvisation and music making with another person, without the risks of other kinds of emotional intimacy. And, as expected, my heart has begun to open.
With opening of the heart comes the opportunity to meditate again and I can’t be more grateful. I’ve tentatively returned to social media and to this website. I’ve still got work to do and it is my service to all those with whom I interact to be able to be emotionally present. I still have work to do to clear out the debris of this difficult time and so I may be somewhat quieter for awhile. Hey, we have 10,000 days together, folks, and that is going to ebb and flow.
This has been an incredibly profound and fertile time for me and there will come a day when it is right to say more. But until that time, please understand that the deepest meaning cannot be made without time, solitude and reflection. My purpose here is to write something to which we can all relate and that is often best done from a vantage point of distance. Putting ourselves under the magnifying glass in the midst of processing change will only focus on the blemishes, rather than the beauty. There are enough places and people who focus on the blemishes. I choose to focus on the beauty – in all of life. And so, I am grateful for your continued patience as we walk these days together.
I hope you’re well and I’m so grateful that we can reconnect in this sentimental season. I hope we’ll have more frequent visits together here, over the next few months. I’d love to hear from you…
For what are you most grateful?