I don’t need to remind you that there is a lot going on in our world. I keep hearing people say, “it’s too much.” I may sound like a broken record but I’m not sure it can be overstated. . . our collective nervous system is activated, our individual nervous systems are activated, and when it feels like too much for too long without the appropriate resources available to process all that is happening, it becomes a trauma. Humans are struggling. We are experiencing collective trauma and it is not over yet.
How we tend to ourselves and steward our individual energy impacts the whole and how the whole is doing impacts the part. The practices and ways of tending to yourself that may have worked pre-Covid may no longer be working. Its okay, the baseline of intensity has risen and we need to adjust. This just means building more resilience and stamina, something many BIPOC have had to be well versed in in order to survive. Even while some people have cultivated resilience and stamina, there is still an overarching fatigue in the air.
The last two weeks I encouraged you to focus on plugging up some energy leaks in regard to unnecessary tension in the body and unnecessary emotion individually and collectively. These practices don’t heal the trauma you or we are experiencing but they do help build our resilience. Working with these tasks is much more about giving yourself a break from that which does not need or deserve your attention so that you have the energy to engage what you need to engage.
Tending to ourselves, each other and the collective is a way that we can build our collective nervous system. Gurdjieff says that humans have an atmosphere, like the earth. Others call it an aura, energy field, bubble, sphere, etc. How I am present in my own atmosphere impacts the greater atmosphere. We have a responsibility to the greater atmosphere, the interconnected web of life. This is not a duty to be done out of guilt or shame or fear but accountability to the whole.
Here is another practice to work with this week. Observing Unnecessary Thought: One of the most prevalent energy leaks is through unnecessary thought. This week observe within yourself any ‘unnecessary thinking’ which is basically any thinking that is not needed to solve an actual problem or to communicate with someone else in the moment. When you are engaged in something, just do whatever you are engaged in - work, advocate, write, read, walk, talk, eat, plan, play, rest, etc. Just be there.
Eckart Tolle says something like 94% of all thinking is useless. I encourage you to test that out. In order to observe in this way, stop frequently and ask yourself—with ruthless self-honesty—is what I am thinking necessary? Is it really necessary? Is my thinking in the service of solving a technical problem or communicating to others? Is there really a problem or something that needs to be communicated? Are the thoughts of others that I am ingesting really necessary? Is the group think really necessary? If not, can I either make a plan to take action or let it go and return to the moment?
What do you notice about the state of your mind when you are engaged in unnecessary thoughts? What emotions emerge? And what sensations, gestures, or actions are you aware of? What happens when you get wide enough within yourself to notice but not be caught up in unnecessary thinking?
See if you can do this in the midst of watching the news, keeping up with the presidential campaign, creating space for our BIPOC siblings to be heard, honored, and healed. There are many things to be thinking about right now but we can bring more conscious awareness to the unnecessary thinking in order to support the whole mind in letting go of unnecessary thought. Again, this does not mean inaction but when we have a relaxed body, clarity of emotion, and clarity of mind, right action will more naturally flow from inside.
We can engage this for ourselves and one another on behalf of the whole.
Let’s keep honoring the pain, leaning into the grief, making space for joy, finding time for play, building our resiliency, and taking time to just be.
You will continue to see other faces facilitating the daily pauses. Here are a few readings from this week: "I know the truth! All other truths are through! People on earth don’t have to fight one another. Come, look at the evening. Come look! Soon it will be night. What is the problem – poets, lovers, Generals? Already the wind is quiet, already the earth is dressed in dew, The storm of stars in the sky will soon be still, And we’ll all sleep together under the earth, We who never let each other sleep above it." — Marina Tsvetaeva October 3, 1915 Translation by Sonja Franeta and Kim Rosen "For Courage" When the light around you lessens And your thoughts darken until Your body feels fear turn Cold as a stone inside, When you find yourself bereft Of any belief in yourself And all you unknowingly Leaned on has fallen, When one voice commands Your whole heart, And it is raven dark, Steady yourself and see That it is your own thinking That darkens your world. Search and you will find A diamond-thought of light, Know that you are not alone, And that this darkness has purpose; Gradually it will school your eyes, To find the one gift your life requires Hidden within this night-corner. Invoke the learning Of every suffering You have suffered. Close your eyes. Gather all the kindling About your heart To create one spark That is all you need To nourish the flame That will cleanse the dark Of its weight of festered fear. A new confidence will come alive To urge you towards higher ground Where your imagination will learn to engage difficulty As its most rewarding threshold! — John O'Donohue “The word lost comes from the Indo-European root ‘leu’, which means to ‘loosen, divide or cut apart.’ Understanding this root meaning can bring us to the center of our inner work, for it tells us that being lost has a quality of being divided or cut apart. So while ‘the outer sense of being lost’ is not knowing where you are or where you’re headed, and while the unknown secrets of tomorrow require us to withstand the discomfort of that, ‘the inner sense of being lost’ is being inwardly divided or cut apart, and being whole necessitates healing these divisions. This is a profound insight, for understanding were and how we are inwardly divided often leads to the center of our tensions. And inner divisions, unattended, widen into schisms that are difficult to cross. In significant ways, realizing and accepting where and how we are lost, or inwardly divided, can lead us right to the place where we must heal. Facing our inner divisions is the first step to knowing where we need to rejoin ourselves. You cannot set bone until you know where it is broken, and you cannot set upon the journey of individuation - of becoming a whole person - until you know where and how you are divided.” — Mark Nepo “If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence, we could rise up rooted, like trees. Instead we entangle ourselves in knots of our own making and struggle, lonely and confused. So like children, we begin again To learn from the things, because they are in God’s heart; they have never left her." This is what the things can teach us: to fall, patiently to trust our heaviness. Even a bird has to do that before she can fly." — Rilke
With Love, Heather