I recently returned from 2 weeks of a meditation retreat in California. I attended a combination of courses that teach in-depth meditation techniques, along with a chance to put these techniques into action so they can translate not only into a deeper experience in meditation, but also to have real life consequences as part of my daily experience.
Each time I go on a meditation retreat I have unique insights that have a profound impact in my life.
One of the biggest things I saw was how when I try to do things correctly I can actually get in my own way.
When we want to do something right, or we focus on the outcome or have a perfectionist attitude it can make it really difficult to learn something new.
Our minds are so strong and think they can figure everything out that it can trap us into not being able to find a new, more adaptive way to do things that might actually feel better and be easier.
In my first week of meditation the focus was on letting go.
I’ve been studying meditation techniques for over a decade so there are a lot of things I “know” about it already. I saw that when I tried to recreate things from this old pathway that I have used for so long, that when it didn’t get me where I wanted to go or didn’t feel like it was “working”, that I felt tense and felt a certain level of grasping to make things work.
By using the approach of letting go and opening to my experience I wasn’t lost like my mind feared I would be, but instead I felt more relaxed and a sense of “trust” evolved.
Why do you think we try to control things in our lives?
It’s not always obvious until we try to let go of the control that we see that we aren’t trusting that the outcome will be ok.
We aren’t trusting that we or the people we love will be ok if we don’t control or take charge of the situation.
That’s not to say we’ll just lie around and do nothing in life, but things feel VERY different when we are coming from a place of trust than when we come from a place of controlling or making things happen.
There is a magical space in between the letting go and the controlling or grasping that can bring a great sense of ease.
For example, I’m running a mini-retreat called “Permission to Play” soon with my colleague, Jennifer Pennell. I’ve been sending you emails and posting on social media about it. (BTW there are a few spots left and the Early Bird rate is available through this Friday!)
Because Jen and I study meditation together we’ve both agreed to trust this process.
We have set an intention for the event to bring a sense of warmth and connection to the participants, and to us as we hold the space.
We want to bring a warm, safe, fun space for women to have fun and to reconnect with themselves, to remember parts of themselves they may have had to disconnect from in order to control or provide for their families or their work.
Because we trust in this process we don’t feel the need to control the outcome.
There is a deep belief that we will share and pass what is needed. We trust in our experience and in what we have to offer. We trust in the space of warmth and connection and the power it brings in sharing in that. We know the depth of value it brings to life.
What is life for, if not to share with others a warmth and care?
My experience in meditation was that the letting go and moving into a space of deep trust brought a sense of ease. In the space of trust I can feel how there is a part of me, similar to what some systems call your Higher Self, that becomes accessible.
This sense of someone’s Higher Self is what I love reflecting in my clients. I can see it clearly even though it can be difficult for them to feel or see, especially when they are in periods of doubt or stress. As I hold it and reflect it to them they begin to feel into it.
They remember the times in their lives they were connected to it, often it was when they were younger, before they were influenced by the pressures or demands of the world. Before they took on certain roles or attitudes to fit in or to be accepted. As they become reacquainted with this part of themselves, as I have experienced through my own journey with IST and meditation, they feel stronger and calmer, and feel more spontaneous joy.
In this part of me, I feel a sense of serenity, solidity and confidence, and feel that I can handle anything. I feel a sense of smooth sailing, like being a bird with wings open wide, coasting on an air current. It’s easy, feels good and I’m being lifted up.
The image of the bird was one I felt strongly after my sister Martha’s death. I felt the sense of her spirit and her joy, as if we were both flying together, soaring and laughing. It was very uplifting at a time that otherwise could have felt empty and lost.
A big realization I had about this sense of ease and soaring was that while I love this space, it feels unrealistic to expect that I will always be soaring. A part of me had unconsciously expected that. I had expected that I should only feel good, and strong, or that it meant something was wrong or something was wrong with me if I didn’t feel that way.
I see this with a lot of my clients, and friends and family. That when they feel down or things are hard, that they are hard on themselves and look inward as if they’ve done something wrong.
My recent retreat highlighted something very different for me.
I thought to myself:
“What if I see these tender parts of myself, the part that sometimes feels shy or timid, or the part that sometimes feel nervous instead of strong and leading the way, what if I allowed these parts to feel the letting go? What if I let these parts come in, let them be taken in and let them feel held, rather than reacting against them and trying to change them?”
Something felt so simple about that.
There’s no reaction, there’s just a welcoming it in. As those parts felt the more solid parts, the acceptance, the integration, it was like they were meeting my Higher Self, and they felt held. There was a sense of quiet and peace, a simplicity.
It’s funny how you can hear something so many times and yet you don’t quite get it or it doesn’t sink in… until it does.
I remember when I started my path of spiritual searching decades ago I kept hearing the expression, “It has to come from within.” I had no idea what that meant, but I kept going. I felt an inner yearning and didn’t even know what I was looking for. Now, I can really feel how this feeling of strength, holding, love, warmth and trust are actually inside of me. I don’t need to get it from someone else, or depend on someone else to have it.
That’s not to say that I don’t receive things from other people or that I haven’t had friends, mentors and teachers that have helped me tremendously. They definitely have and still do. It’s not about doing this alone. Not at all. In fact, we are stronger together. That’s why I want to share this with you and to create and feel a sense of community.
At my core, I do feel this sense of inner equanimity and peace, a sense of solidity, bigness and soaring. It is simple and quiet. And I feel so much joy there.
I want to feel this joy in community with others.
It’s totally possible.
So if you are on this journey of learning more about yourself and wanting to feel greater meaning and depth in life, as I imagine you are if you’re reading this, then I encourage you to keep going.
Keep opening your heart.
Know that this joy is your birthright.
With love and warmth,