This blog is about the temptation to give up and how turning inwards brings up the insights we need to hear in order to persevere (with peace). I didn’t want to write the last part of the blog as it was a zap of insight that I’m sure came from my spiritual side. Writing about spirituality is still discomforting for me, but the reality is we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and if we only write about the latter and not the former, then it’s only half the story, isn’t it? And what good does that do? So here goes.
Two short weeks ago, I had a lot of clarity on what I wanted for 2023 and my goals. But it wasn’t just about the “what.” It was also about the “why”:
I wanted a sense of peace, not hustle.
I didn’t want fear energy as I worked towards my goal. I wanted faith energy.
And I didn’t want to feel doubt, but just trust that whatever happens, it happens as it should.
To summarize, I didn’t want to feel trapped or shackled to my goals, but rather a sense of ease and freedom. In fact, these specific instructions came to me during meditation just before the New Year started:
Instead of fear, choose faith. Instead of doubt, choose trust. Instead of hustle, choose peace.
So two weeks later, what happened?
I’ve had my faith, trust, and peace disrupted by unexpected things.
Yesterday, I wholly believed I should drop everything “extra,” hide under a blanket and take the easy road. Why follow my heart when it feels so hard? I recognized I had a “give up” mindset going on.
But then I became curious.
How could I flip from inspired to dejected like this? It was like I was reaching for an insight into this situation – grasping for it but couldn’t quite make it out.
So I did what I knew to do when I was confused, upset, or unsure. I meditated with self-compassion. After years of compassion meditation practice, I’m learning to respond with kindness when feeling lost, overwhelmed, and pulled to defensive actions like hiding away.
I love the line in the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once when Waymond says, “The only thing I do know is that we have to be kind. Please, be kind — especially when we don’t know what’s going on.”
The ability to respond with kindness is hard because we’re wired to respond with certainty. Kindness and certainty are opposites sometimes.
Because I wanted certainty, I felt like walking away from my goals when the going got uncertain. I also felt like I would be a failure if I gave up, and that did not feel like kindness in my thinking.
Returning to a compassionate practice in these moments of difficulty was a game-changer.
In mindfulness, I had the space to remember to do a compassion friend meditation. I asked myself, what would a friend say to me? What would my kind and unconditionally loving grandmother say?
Out of the silence came the instinct to allow myself to have all the negative feelings and hold them with tenderness without trying to pep talk or berate myself in any way.
Just hold all those messy feelings with tenderness.
Following that directive, I let go and let myself be a human being. It was then I felt the feeling of inner peace I had lost.
It was a powerful insight: when we strive for something or feel we cannot achieve it, it really doesn’t matter. The original feeling we wanted – peace, kindness or freedom – is accessible anytime, anywhere.
I realized I had been given a few “off-ramps” to my goals in the first two weeks of 2023. As I finished the meditation, it felt like I had been challenged by the universe to see if I really wanted to be a bigger, bolder version of myself or if a few challenges would have me scuttling back into my shell. I’m starting to see these challenges were a gift and part of the process because they helped deepen my commitment and my intent.
As a dear friend told me, her mom always says,
You are where you are because it’s where you are supposed to be.
Yet, finding peace is not a one-and-done effort.
It seems each day has its turmoil, and having a mindfulness practice is a key ingredient to navigating this life. In a meditation just this morning, my inner voice, the one I wrote about in my recent book Breakthrough, had another message for me.
During morning meditation, I had quite a vision as I breathed with the mantra, “Breathing in, I am aware of my body. Breathing out, I relax my body.”
Out of nowhere came a vision of Goddess Kali, a deity in my religion of birth, Hinduism. I’m not very religious, but my family tends to pray to Mother Laksmi, Saraswati, and Durga – who have a more benevolent nature. Goddess Kali has more of a destructive nature. So I was surprised to see her in meditation – I had never seen her before. It was a bit scary as she seemed to be on the attack and full of this potent energy. Her face was fearsome as I looked at her. She reached right into my mouth, and it seemed she wanted to pull something out and burn it up. I could feel the heat, though perhaps that was the fireplace behind my meditation cushion. My imagination or subconscious was in vivid play in front of my closed eyes, and I watched, fascinated at what was unfolding.
In the vision, I saw what Goddess Kali wanted to destroy.
It was my attachment to certainty and control.
I watched her reach into my body, pull them out of me, and set them on fire. It was impressive how imaginative and realistic this vision was.
And then I burped! This very humble human activity had me returning from the vision, and a few insights started popping into my mind. It felt like the burp literally ‘brought up’ the insights I was looking for. They bubbled up into my mind as:
–> I’m in transition to my fifties. It’s time to let go of control and certainty for the next phase.
–> Control and certainty are barriers to creation and growth.
–> My thinking has to change for me to change.
Wow. Just as burping gives the body a sense of relief and peace, so did these insights give my soul a sense of relief and peace.
Clearly, this letting go of control and certainty is a lifelong quest, and there is always more and more to learn and unlearn. I may never be done with this, but my lesson learned is to show up and keep learning/unlearning. I must remember to foster a “not-knowing mindset” and be curious and open to allow my inner wisdom to surface the insights I need.
Would it be peaceful to give up and take the easy path? I don’t think so because I’d feel depressed about not following my heart.
Is it hard to take the climbing path of personal growth rather than the cruising path of staying the same and comfortable? Hell yes.
But the universe does send help and guiding messages when you’re on the hard path. I had the vision of Goddess Kali, and I also had some real-world people show up and cheer me on – old friends and new friends.
Ultimately the universe is a friendly one that gives you both challenges and support to move you on a path of growth.
What I’ve learned is to stay kind, stay compassionate and stay open.