Around 10 o’clock on a recent morning, I looked down and noticed that my toes were hanging just over the edge of my own inner spiral. The day had not gone as planned so far and the scheduled events that were to follow were already beginning to unravel, taking the last threads of my patience with them. The challenges of those past few hours grabbed ahold of the drudgeries of the previous days, which reached out for the struggles of the preceding weeks and months and the grabbing, holding, and pulling continued until I was in a silent tug of war with my own emotions; little of which really had to do with what was happening that morning. So, there I stood, balancing at the edge, staring at the emotional storm into which I was about to dive, taking my children with me, and I stopped. I recognized the moment for what it was, one moment in time. I took a breath to untie that instant from any other and stepped away from the danger. In a single breath, I was able to quickly shift my energy and it shifted the momentum of the entire day.
Struggles and celebrations come in all shapes and sizes. Each one is simultaneously deeply personal and wholly universal. We all experience sadness and joy. We all have moments of fright and excitement that can catch our breath. Grief that we want to end. Celebrations that we want to last a lifetime. We often make the mistake of viewing our moments of discomfort as unjust punishment and those of enjoyment as good fortune. We hold onto both equally; reliving each with rejection or longing, stringing them together into a whirlwind strong enough to steal our footing when the slightest breeze is added; strong enough to take apart our day or week or more with the smallest misstep. Neither pleasure nor pain are subjective or sustained, but rather circumstantial. Perpetual suffering is not. It’s an individual and purposeful act, although not at all a conscious one. When we become aware of it though, we can more easily rewrite our story no matter our circumstances.
This is exactly what we are going to be talking about in the upcoming remote RAW Energy class on Saturday morning. We’ll discuss how we hold onto the experiences that we have and internalize them. How in seeking greater control over our circumstances we end up allowing ourselves to be controlled and directed by otherwise neutral events.
For now, let’s apply the idea to something simple and universal: traffic. To my knowledge, no one pulls up on an unexpected and impenetrable line of cars with a triumphant and celebratory smile. More power to you if you do, but I’m willing to wager that’s not the majority. Typically, we roll up to such delays with a scoff, hands thrown in the air, and some form of audible distain. And if it stops there, great! Fair response. Traffic is neutral but can irritate us. It happens to everyone, at least most. But we don’t usually let it go at slight annoyance. We don’t typically accept it as a random set of events that we happened upon. The slight breeze of discomfort created by the traffic whips up into the whirlwind and sweeps us into our spiral.
“Great! Now I’m going to be late again. This kind of stuff is always happening to me!”
Something so simple, so universal, turns personal and we latch onto the familiar blame, the anger, the resentment, the self-pity or self-loathing. And if someone tries to cut us off or drives past us on the shoulder… hoo doggy… a pox upon his home! But here’s the thing; traffic is traffic, nothing more. And the shoulder guy, who has now become the unwitting victim of venomous hostility, has no idea who you are or what you’re doing in your car. He’s not upset, not with you anyway. Certainly, traffic itself isn’t upset. You are. Just you. Your energy has changed and, if allowed, that shift can determine the events of the rest of your day. Once you enter the rabbit hole of your personal spiral, you give it control; you hand it permission to whip you into the storm. You hand the storm your power.
In our culture, we often get confused between power and control. Control is a lie that we tell ourselves that comforts but confuses us. We can’t control our circumstances. We can’t change the experiences that we’ve had or dictate those that are to come. Our real power lies in the recognition and acceptance of that knowledge. It lies in our ability to recognize and accept our own energy, which is the only thing over which we really do have any control. I truly hope that you will join us for the RAW Energy class on September 10th. If you can’t though, I invite you to start paying closer attention to yourself. Take a moment now and then, especially when you’re feeling deep into discomfort, to close your eyes and take a breath. Look inside to see if your toes are hanging over the edge of your spiral and, if they are, take a step back away from the storm.
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