Today is the summer solstice, least it is here in the northern hemisphere; the longest day of the year. The sun rose this morning at 4.43 and will stay with us until 21.20 ~ that’s over sixteen hours of sunlight all in ONE day. For some reason that astounds me, the small reminder that we are on this planet spinning in space, our days and nights determined by the tilt of the globe on its axis.
Turning to face the sun the shadows fall behind me, could I even forget that they are there? Unfinished conversations, undesirable thoughts, feelings, things I’ve done then later regretted; those are the parts of me I’d rather forget. But it doesn’t work; ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. So I’ve decided to turn to face them, and something really interesting has happened. The light, and by that I mean not only the physical light of this long day, but the light of understanding seems to turn with me. I am able to see things in a different way. These shadows are not so ugly, not so scary; they are just parts that for some reason or other have not had a chance to express themselves and to be heard. It’s time. Tool bag at the ready, it’s time to look and see what’s there. I’m going to do this step by step, I invite you to walk with me down this path. There’s no agenda other than to be ready to meet whatever comes along, this is my story today but it could be yours. Maybe some of these words will speak to you, which is why I’m choosing to share this journey. We all have a tool bag at our disposal, things we’ve learned along the way that can help us reach greater understanding and compassion.
First step : Being with what is
Are you willing to explore the experience that is presenting itself in this moment and how it may affect you?
Sitting with feet on the floor I begin to breathe, just noticing what that feels like. The air is coming in and going out. With eyes closed I become more aware of the internal landscape that is my body. My heart beats and blood moves around an intricate network of vessels. I don’t have to think about it, my heart just keeps on going minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day. Sensations arise in my body, there is tightness, and also there is relaxation happening even without intention. I am aware of a gentle easing into this body as my attention is becoming inward. There are also uncomfortable feelings, ‘this is stupid’, and ‘how can I even think about sharing this,’ self-judgement and shame. I acknowledge this, just as it is. ‘Yes, hello shame,’ like an old friend I meet these feelings, not trying to push them away as undesirables. They are just there, they have their reasons, but I don’t need to understand everything right now. It’s just what it is. Holding these feelings like the sky holds clouds or a mother holds a new-born baby, tenderly and gently, ‘Here you are.’ There’s nothing wrong, nothing is broken, there’s no need to fix, mend or change this moment, this experience is just how it is. How does that feel? Part of me wants to jump in and rescue myself, make it feel better. I meet that too, ‘hello.’
Can I go further, can I continue to meet and accept this, can I continue to share the deeper this goes? Questions fill my mind; it begins to whirr like an old computer trying to adjust to a new download. I meet the questioning, the mind, and say ‘hello.’
My heart is touching something else now, aware that behind these sensations, these feelings, this greeting of parts that have before been pushed away, there is great gentleness. I feel like a crocodile carrying newly hatched croclits, tenderness under all the scaly hard armour. There is a sense of gentleness, of holding something precious and delicate, despite all the self-judgements that these things are ‘bad.’ There is no bad, no good, there just are these things here now, happening, being sensed, felt and seen as they are. Being with what is in this moment without trying to change any of it. There comes a feeling of lightness, of acceptance. This is just what is and by saying yes I let life touch me, feel the light of the sun reaching and warming cold parts. Something feels even too painful to look at, so I say, ‘yes, this feels too painful,’ and that is enough for it to be seen.
This exercise brings me closer to awareness of myself, and is the first step towards being able to speak the truth and speak from my heart. If I don’t do this exercise first then what I say may come from the shadow, may come from my wounding and pain. I may speak with the intention to hurt, as I am hurting. I may speak with the intention to arouse jealousy, as I am jealous. I may speak not as I truly wish with clarity, but in order for the shadow to be seen, to be acknowledged by another if I am unable to do that. But how much cleaner will my interaction be, how much clearer will my communication be, if I can first know myself, feel myself and accept it just as it is, in this moment.
Communication from the heart begins with dropping into presence with ourselves, touching the moment and how that feels in the body. Noticing and acknowledging the sensations, feelings & emotions clears the pathway for clearer communication.
Does anyone else feel this way of touching self before reaching out to another is useful? Do you do this a different way? I’d love to hear and share ideas of how we can meet and be with what is in the moment.