When I journeyed with my first Vision Quest in November 2009, my intention was to leave my Ego behind on the mountain and to start living every moment of my life from my Highest Self. Intuitively, I knew I was coming to a completion of sorts and knew that I would be tested in my learnings. And with perfect timing, it arrived 3 days after I came down from the mountain, in the form of a man. How perfect is the universe!
Until now, my greatest challenge in life was in intimate relationship. As soon as a man I liked started complimenting me and stroking my ego, with promises of sweeping me off my feet, taking care of me, protecting me, and riding off with me into the sunset of Happily Ever After, I lost myself completely or rather, I gave myself away. My pattern was that I started out in my driver’s seat of confidence, curiosity, authenticity and detachment. But soon – ridiculously soon – I would rush in and lean so far forward that I would lose my centre and my balance. I would fall off the wagon, the Soul Train. Almost imperceptibly, I would go from a place of relaxed enthusiasm and detachment to a place of insecurity and neediness and I would find myself anxiously waiting for the calls, the emails, the texts and not only waiting for them, but needing them, checking my phone or my email every 2 minutes and then, when one did arrive, I would then find myself voraciously scanning the message for undertones or overtones of approval or disapproval. I would search and find meaning when there was no meaning. And in the insecurity, I would start to doubt my worth, my love-ability. I would start worrying that it wouldn’t last, that he would fall out of like with me, that he would leave. And because our external reality is a reflection of our internal landscape, I would then start looking for evidence to validate my fears. And I would find it, even if that meant I had to engage the Saboteur, as arsonist, to burn down the house and force the man to flee.
And so it was that I did not pass that last test. I met the man and I rushed in too deep too fast and ignored the warning bells that were going off left, right and centre. I overrode my own intuition that said “SLOW DOWN. YOU ARE GOING TOO FAST” and as soon as I began ignoring my own heart wisdom and guidance, I lost my bearings. I was like a straggling puppy in a storm tossed sea, visibility zero, looking for a lifeline to rescue me and bring me to safety. The lesson here was threefold
1) That it is my job to keep me safe. I am self reliant, self-accountable and self responsible. When I start looking for, and needing, external validation and reassurance what am I really looking for? I am looking for unconditional acceptance and love. And what does that give me? Safety. Because if I am unconditionally love and accepted, I will not be abandoned. And if I know I will not be left, I am safe to relax and be myself. Wow. Now I can see how I put myself on a sinking ship time and time again. When we rely on external factors to meet our most primal and fundamental need – safety – we are almost constantly in a state of anxious fright or flight because the external is constantly changing, even as the sands shift beneath ocean. As Robert Frost so beautifully wrote in his poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay”:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
2) The way that I fulfil my need for safety is by staying anchored in the present moment, grounded to the earth and centred in my heart – the seat of my Highest Self. And how do I do that? By meditating, spending time in nature, exercising, taking long hot baths, journalling, connecting with other friends and loved ones and staying alert in the now – even if that means speaking out loud what I am doing … “I am sitting in front of the computer and typing my blog”. Whatever it takes to keep the focus and the attention on the present moment. And the underlying key to all of this is gratitude. When I take the time to think and say aloud all the things I have to be grateful for, and I keep going until I experience the shift from saying the words to actually embodying the emotions, then I am aligned with my heart and not the story in my head. Gratitude is the ultimate antidote to fear.
3) Trade expectation for appreciation. In my previous relationships I spent so much time and energy in futuristic projections that I sacrificed the simple pleasure of appreciating what was right in front of me. As soon as I had established a firm liking for someone, my mind was already racing ahead to long-term commitments, marriage, kids and ultimately, the end of my life! The lesson here is that there is no destination because every time we get to where we had wanted to be, we start looking for the next goalpost. We are spiritual beings having a human experience and as humans, we are always looking for ways to grow so we will never be content to rest in one place for very long. The difference however, between expectation and appreciation, the difference between seeking a particular outcome and adopting a mind that is open to anything and attached not nothing is in surrender. As the Beatles sang, “Let it Be”. But this is not about passive surrender. We still can – and we must – get clear about what we really want, set forth our intentions, align our thoughts, words and deeds to those intentions, and then let go of the outcome. The only thing that is real is that which never changes, and it is the Witness within us – the consciousness that is behind the ego – that stays the same. So the key (and perhaps the challenge!) is to stay in alert and curious detachment, and ‘adopt an attitude of gratitude’.
So that was my old story, my old blueprint – the girl that would rush into love, swoon, fall over and perish in the flames of unfulfilled desires. But now its time for a new story and another opportunity to apply the lessons I have learned. As one of my teachers once said to me, “the challenge is not to meditate in a monastery. Anyone can meditate in a monastery – that’s easy. The challenge is to meditate in the middle of Times Square”. How true that is!! The true test of this learning integration is in relationship, not outside of it.
And so recently, I have begun a dialog with someone who has captured my imagination and ignited my inspiration. And this morning I realised that I was once again falling back into old patterns. I recognised that somewhere in the past week, I had shifted from relaxed appreciation and enjoyment into a slightly anxious state of anticipation and projection. I started getting caught up with the story in my head and out of alignment with the here and now. Hence the reason for today’s blog. In writing this, I have been able to process what was happening and invite Witness back in. What was interesting is that when I first started writing this blog, my language was all present tense so instead of saying my challenge used to be in relationship I said “my challenge is always in relationship”. Look at that wording. When I set it up like that it is only natural and inevitable that my experience will continue to validate the claim. So now the wording is different and I’ve got a new story. I used to be the girl that got carried away in the storm tossed seas of unmet expectation and unfulfilled dreams. No longer. Now I am the Sage, the Lover, the Goddess and the Warrior who manifests the vision by staying present, grateful, enthusiastic, curious and detached and allowing life to simply flow. And this is a story with a happy ending.