I never intended so much time to pass before my next blog post. Yet, as John Lennon said, “Life is what’s happening while we make other plans.” Life has taken me on an unsuspectingly journey during this pandemic. Since my last post, I spent the summer in Mendocino living on a permaculture farm and then moved to Mount Shasta this fall.
There’s a story in all of that (future post about surrender, healing, wonder and so much more) but for now, I want to share about the profound ways that being here, in this magical place has supported me going within. I don’t think I truly realized how much the hustle-and-bustle of Bay Area life had become ingrained in my body. Even being in Mendocino, a very busy place with tourism coupled with notoriously bad internet service along the ridges (where most people live) that forces everyone into town to use wi-fi, true pauses were non-existent. It wasn’t until I landed in the rural part of Mount Shasta, where I found an incredible opportunity to hunker-down just as we headed back into the second wave of Covid, that I realized how much solitude I needed.
My favorite place to sip tea + reflect
Since deciding to move here in early fall, I’ve meditated well over 5,000 minutes (150 consecutive days). I’ve read 4,866 pages in 18 books. I’ve completed a distance-learning Gestalt Coaching program, learned to play a musical instrument, began writing a book — and so much more. (including creating this new website;) This is not shared in the spirit of competition, like “what have you done” with your shelter-in-place, time? It is shared in the spirit of awakening us all to ask ourselves What are we doing with our time and energy? This grand pause has been the silver living for me, in this incredibly challenging time, providing just such a space to answer that question.
In watching the Social Dilemma just before my move, it was a question for which I was well-primed. Several years ago, In trying to separate myself from a life I never intended to create, I found myself hooked into using technology more than I ever planned. Using it both to schedule every moment — and using it to unplug whenever possible. Instagram became a guilty pleasure, as I began fantasizing about my “exit,” from the life that not only, was no longer nourishing me, but I became painfully aware that it was going to kill me. What began as a search for inspiration and connection — okay, maybe a distraction too — ultimately took me to a place that felt “off,” and empty. (You know, like you feel yourself just looking for a better hit of “I want to feel anything but what I’m currently feeling?”) Like any worth-while addiction, this is a painfully familiar and predicable cycle. And, for any of us who have done healing work in this realm, we get better and better at recognizing the signs whether your “drug of choice is,” a behavior, a substance, a person…it’s all the same. I know my own dabbling in Insta-addiction keeps me in good company. And, it wasn’t all bad. I found AcroVinyasa on Instagram, who I trained with in Bali. I kept in touch with so many international travelers…And, I also started feeling myself need to check it incessantly, at the bank, gulp…while driving, which is ultimately what made me pause and reconsider my own usage. (seeing what social media is doing to our brains helped this decision).
I’ve heard many people share that the isolation of shelter-in-place has been difficult for them. I’ve felt some shame in the fact that I’ve had the opposite reaction. Turning the perspective to see the gem in this situation — it will not always be this way. How many times did you just want the time for this or that…and many of us just happen to have such time. Yes, there have been myriad challenges for us all within this wildly stressful past year that has included loss of loved ones, loss of business, money, relationships, opportunities, and more. Yet, I choose to stay focused on what I’ve gained: time to do the healing work the hamster wheel of life kept me from, time to learn new skills, time to reappropriate my time, my habits, my thoughts, beliefs, relationships…all of it. This IS an incredible opportunity to reset so much. It is reprogramming, which we simply cannot do if we are constantly filling ourselves up with noise from the intake of the outside world. I know not everyone is living in an isolated space, but choosing what to engage in or not engage in can be a small decision with a big effect. In this way we can direct this time of disconnection, to serve as a re-connection.
Finding myself under the dark expansive sky, without the oppressive lights and pulse of city life that I craved long ago, I felt the invitation to just be. With Mama Shasta, looking over my shoulder in her impressive, love-filled presence, I found so much solace in this place where I could hear myself think + feel. It was a long-over due reunion. In that space, with the Divine support and guidance that arrived through my enrollment in the Gestalt Coaching program, which emphasizes personal inquiry, I ventured more deeply inward for myself.I’ve personally remembered parts of myself that fell away not because I wanted them to, but because life was moving so fast I just couldn’t maintain everything. (anyone feel me on that?) That’s certainly one way. Another is to give ourselves the space to asses and evaluate these choices consciously; to inquire more deeply into if these choices align with our higher self. This all takes time, which just has to be created, carved out and prioritized.
I don’t know that I’ll always crave this much solitude, but the lessons its given me have been profound. Connection to nature daily has been a huge part of supporting me in my remembering ~ nature holds the keys to so much for us if we take the time to listen. For me, one of the keys in metabolizing my experiences, was adequate space to just be. And, being in nature to allow the natural unfolding of an internal process required for shifts in consciousness is essential. I’ve gained greater control over my mind, my capacity to focus my energy, ultimately feeling greater autonomy in my life.
In our world where everyone is up in everyone else’s business, and everything feels like it has impending urgency, a “pause,” felt virtually impossible (aha..and virtually it might be) But, turning away from the devices, (or learning boundaries with them) and stepping bare feet into the dirt, turning toward the plants, trees, the rising + setting sun it is not. It is very much alive, accessible, and crying out for attention…for a listening heart to be with, I believe. With all the ways the world seems to be whirling out-of-control, maybe the solutions aren’t in more talking. Maybe they are in better listening.
We think that stillness and meditation is about the mind only, but in settling the mind, we can drop into the heart. And, this we need more than anything. Because, no matter what we are faced with, the heart can hold it all.