Monday, October 13, 2008

Work It!!

I'm always thankful for my morning meditation and pranayama (yogic breathing) practice. Wherever I'm at, it provides an opportunity to sit still and witness, perhaps even transform...

A little background: I'm living in a distinct time of uncertainty. Design jobs are thin, I'm on the brink of a couple big projects/decisions with music, and finances are mighty slim... This morning, as sometimes happens, a veery veeery subtle sensation came over me, with accompanying emotional involvement. The emotion and sensation feel somewhat scary, with a sense of lack of control (like I said, this is very subtle). This morning, I discerned an underlying thought: "I shouldn't feel scared," and I decided to apply Byron Katie's "The Work" to this thought...

[For those of you not familiar, The Work is a series of questions designed to unravel the compulsive patterns our thoughts take, perhaps offering new possibilities - or maybe even a blank slate!]

Here goes...

"I shouldn't feel scared," can you know that's true?... No, I can't

How does it feel when you think the thought, "I shouldn't feel scared?" I feel judgmental on myself, as if I should be stronger, less vulnerable.

Can you think of one reason to drop the thought (and don't try to drop it! {to quote Katie, "we can't drop our thoughts, but they can drop us...") Yes, I would feel kinder to myself, and I would allow myself that sense of vulnerability, of humbleness in the face of the unknown.

Can you think of one stress-free reason to keep the thought? No :-)

Who would you be without the thought, I shouldn't be afraid? I would accept the sweetness of feeling vulnerable, humble, perhaps even in awe of the mystery, the unknown. I would accept that I don't (and can't!) know everything, remembering that it's this unknowing that opens us up to growth.

Turn the phrase around, and see if you can find a reason the turnaround could be as much or more true: "I should feel afraid." Yes, I can see that this is very true. In my experience, fear often comes as a prelude to embracing something vaster, more freeing and amazing, than I could have imagined with my limited awareness. And to open to that unknown, vaster realm, I've had to pass through the gateway of fear - rather than skirt around it or pretend I don't feel it. Fear, even terror, has been a powerful waterfall veiling an unlimited treasure trove of creative inspiration - a purifying fire that we pass through on the way to divine grace.

As you can see - The Work doesn't aim so much to fix our "problems" as it does to untangle the obsessive thoughts that attach themselves to us. By thinking "I shouldn't feel afraid," I was a) placing a judgment on myself (not very nice!), and b) not allowing the gift of that exciting sensation we often call "fear" to fill my heart with its vibrant blessings.

So here, I dive, fearlessly into the unknown...!!!


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