I AM ONCE AGAIN in the midst of what I refer to as my triple-Scorpio tendency to topple everything at once, and from scratch, rebuild my life. I’ll give you an idea of the scope. There have been major tremors simultaneously affecting my career, important friendships, spiritual community and health…and these are just a few from a longer list. I am writing in early October, so I include the drama in Washington, D.C., regarding the funding of our government and the debt ceiling. A friend alerted me that we are currently affected by Pluto in Capricorn, which invokes the destruction of old systems and paradigms –personally and collectively. Perhaps I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed by change.
I have spent extended time in meditative retreat and have a cellular memory of what it feels like to be in profound silence, centered in the present moment. Returning to that sublime state in the midst of a maelstrom is not something I achieve easily. Over the past month, I’ve been striving to encounter that exquisite balance once more, struggling with a part of myself that is ever ready to produce a series of imagined disasters inspired by the changes in my life.
Gazing towards Washington, D.C., in amazement, I wonder if the external is not actually a projection of our inner life. Are there aspects of my personality blindly resisting compromise? Do I allow a component within my psyche to split off and stridently oppose all view points except its own, ignoring the risk of massive loss in the process? As we are collectively carried towards the political precipice, I long for a voice of compassionate wisdom to propose a solution.
Knowing that transformation always occurs in the present, I continue to gently bring myself back to the here and now to take a slow, conscious breath and open to where I am located at the moment: teaching a course in Brazil. Birds sing outside. The rhythm of the ocean’s waves washes over me day and night. I am well fed and housed in spartan, but clean, safe quarters. The honest assessment is that in this sacred instant all is…superb!
In the midst of so much change, my overwhelmed mind is prone to anticipate numerous horrific possibilities. The truth is that very little is under my control. The level of my power varies, dependent on the direction of my attention. Do I cast it forward towards the imagined future? Or, perhaps back to the past, searching for blame or regret? No. The present is the honest place of power. If I can muster the courage to be here now, I may well encounter pain, fear and sadness, especially if I am navigating change in numerous areas of my life. However, the difference is that the emotions are real.
If I can bring spaciousness to my emotions and allow myself to feel, they will pass, as that is their nature; they arise — then disappear. If I cast my attention forward or backward in avoidance, I am living a fantasy that only serves to anesthetize and avoid any movement. The spirit of compassion can meet the sadness and embrace the fear without judgment. Creating a spaciousness of Self allows both fear and trust, sadness and hope, anger and love to co-exist in harmony. It is this very paradox that fosters compassion and acceptance, both internally and in the world.
A teacher of mine once shared a story regarding a Native tradition that responds to theft in the community by gathering all members in a circle around the perpetrator, to inquire what inside of him is in sufficient pain to allow him to inflict injury on a fellow tribe member. It is loving attention that fosters healing and a return to the wholeness.