One of my friends commented the other week that it’s been some time since I last wrote a blog. It’s good to have a dedicated readership. Of one. ; ) Truth be told dear Readers it’s been a funny few months for me and I’ve not really known how I feel, never mind what to write in the hope of making you smile. The dirt and the dust of change was abruptly kicked into my face on many fronts back in October and it set me off on another anxious path of inner inquiry and rocked the little stability I had built for myself since December 2015. Along with the changing of the seasons from Autumn to Winter, I too had to slow down (despite my bitter protests), learn how to hibernate, sit with myself, and reflect yet again on my motivations and whether I was, in fact, expecting too much of myself again.
Over those cold slow months I met a couple of people who challenged and developed my own ongoing spiritual journey. One was a lovely lady who practices astrology – the science/psychology stuff and she kindly, over a massive vegetarian platter of sweet potatoes, sourdough bread and houmous, talked me through my astrology birth plan. It turns out that this Type A overachieving ex-lawyer actually has nothing to achieve in this life! All I need to do is “perfect my vehicle” (and she isn’t talking about my beat up Ford KA)! I choked over a large lump of sweet potato when that revelation was declared and the irony has taunted me in each and every frustratingly quiet moment of the last few months. Interestingly, she could ascertain from the placement of planets that my calling in life is to work in health and healing and that I will be drawn to vulnerable sections of society with my work. That was particularly fascinating as I am shortly beginning a job teaching yoga for homeless people across Sefton. The old legal eagle interest is apparently associated with the Gemini sign in my planets and that aspect also accounts for the twin two-sided mind I have that argues incessantly inside my head – think Tweedledum and Tweedledee!
I have been to see clairvoyants before. I have had some surprisingly accurate readings but in recent years I shied away from this because I was going through a massive period of insecurity and change and I didn’t want to cling to the hope of a tall dark handsome stranger coming to save me on a particular day. I realised, and still do now, that due to the massive life changes I have made I am vulnerable and I yearn for the security of someone else telling me that it’s all going to be ok. Because right now I still cannot really see the wood for the trees.
Slowing down helped me realise that I was keeping busy so I would feel a sense of achievement and progression – that I was pushing myself to feel a sense of completeness from a new life that I only began a year ago. Only I could expect that from my Type A self! Patience is not something that I have cultivated in my 33 years. Nor do I think many of us like to wait. We’re programmed to absorb, achieve, consume and progress. To top this off, I have never not worked hard, played hard and had time to kill indefinitely. And this is why I believe I have found the last few months so challenging and frustrating. I have felt lazy and a little lost. However, I have now begun to accept that this is a vital part of my journey (cue dramatic X Factor style music) – that I have embarked down a long and sometimes dark tunnel of transformation and that sometimes the batteries in my inner torch light will fail me.
January brought with it the New Year and a new start. It also brought back an old face, an old love and with it an opportunity for a re-start I hadn’t been expecting. 2017 isn’t about a new diet or exercise regime for me, it’s about re-setting my mind set and stepping forward into a new life consciously. Last year was exploration and experimenting, this year sh!t has got real. There is no turning back. Nor do I honestly want to but that doesn’t make it any less scary moving forward into the unknown.
In order to adjust to this, I am beginning to view this year as another year of growth, of transition, and to try and just let my stubborn, security craving Taurean arse enjoy the ride. The downs and the ups are as equally necessary.
As part of seeking to find some peace in the unknown I have been cultivating gratitude for each day and that has been working to lessen the anxiety as the bigger path continues to unfold slowly before me. I have been keeping a gratitude diary each evening – sometimes it lists small things that I am thankful for like the “veggie feast for lunch” and “veggie sushi” (yes, mostly food) but on other days it’s more heartfelt thanks for the important people in my life and the shared special moments. It’s so easy to overlook how lucky most of us already are.
I still have pangs, or periods of anxiety about what to do for the best. About what life looks and feels like now and how I have absolutely no idea what it will look like this time next year! In the Yoga world people talk about the glory of transformation – of the butterfly that bursts free in colour and wonder and flies away into freedom. What they don’t tell you much about is the messy icky cocoon stage which I believe I am in. Think ‘The Fly’ or ‘Cocoon’. Yep – picture that stringy gooey membrane clinging to the bug as it wrestles internally breaking through the gloop. That’s what I believe my anxiety is. It’s the past holding on, it’s fear seeking to prevent me from moving forward away from the safety of the known. And I never really liked getting my hands dirty but now I am well and truly stuck in the mess of the membrane.
And it’s not just me that is suffering with anxiety. Plenty of people around me are fighting the fog and digging deep to step forward through fear and worry in the hope of a little more peace and happiness. And I believe, if we are all truly honest with ourselves, we all have worries, anxiety and doubts about daily decisions we make as well as the more fundamental ones like love, health, money and work. It takes a brave person to step out of their comfort zone. It takes a strong person to acknowledge their anxieties and seek not to be bound by them. That myself and others around me should really applaud themselves for bending into challenge and stepping forward (albeit sometimes with gritted teeth) into change. I, in particular, need to appreciate how far I have come because not only am I learning to identify my moments of anxiety as just that – that it’s the gloop of panic and it’s not real, I can even, on occasion, step back from reacting to that immediate emotion. I can let it go and that has been a true wonder. That ability I now have to change the emotion in a moment, or in a day, and that each time I become aware of this it is progress even though I may spiral back into the same anxious ridden funk from time to time.
(X factor-esque music now reaching crescendo). The last few months have taught me that the best way to move forward is just to focus on the next step, just one at a time. That I need to begin to trust myself and my own instincts and to stop seeking security and support from other people. I need to begin to truly accept that there are no right or wrong decisions. There is only experience. Only endless possibility and accept that everything will be ok.
It seems to me right now that the key to developing inner peace and happiness is to become aware of your mind set in each moment and to be your own cheerleader. Don’t bury the anxiety or doubt, don’t be ashamed of it, acknowledge it but don’t over identify with it. It’s so important to cultivate forgiveness for yourself and compassion for where you are at right now and accept that the dark moments and the dark sides of your personality and of your life are as valid as the light. It’s about then learning how to extend those moments of happiness and peace just breath by breath and despite the knocks, the let downs, the fear and the hurt, it’s about finding the strength to believe in the good things in life and have faith from within that all will be ok. That one day, without knowing when, we will find our wings.