No one ever said that doing the work to create an authentic life, especially in our later years, was going to be easy. Every day we are confronted with choices and decisions about what to keep from our old life, with all of its belief systems, family, friends and experiences, and what to let go of that no longer serves who we truly are. Sometimes we make a choice, confident that it is the right one for us where we are right now, only to feel doubt about our choices, second guessing ourselves. It is at that time that we could use a tool that teaches us how to “sit with it” until we know if our decision is the right one.
I found such a tool the other day as I was going through my closet. I tend to do that more and more these days since I downsized to a cozy little studio apartment which I adore and which has the best view I’ve ever had of anywhere I’ve ever lived (which more than makes up for the limited closet space). It seems that every week as I am putting away the clean laundry and trying to fit it all back in, I find one or two items that I put through the now standard test of whether or not I will keep it:
1. Does this item bring beauty or value into my life?
2. Does this item bring me joy?
3. Am I willing to part with something else to make room for this item?
I pulled out the oversized harvest sweatshirt with the big pumpkin on the front that I wear for only a few weeks each year until Thanksgiving and then pack away again, as well as the very bulky open knit sweater that catches on everything, and started to put them to the test. It suddenly occurred to me that I could take some thoughts and decisions that had been bothering me recently and put them through exactly the same examination. Perhaps by asking the questions, and then sitting in the stillness and silence of meditation for 10 or 15 minutes, answers that were hidden in my heart might appear.
So I sat down and took out my” handy-dandy notebook” (anyone out there have kids or grandkids who watched Blues Clues on TV and knows what that notebook is?) and wrote out the first decision that I has having second doubts about. As before, I asked myself the three questions, rewritten this time to accommodate the exercise:
1. Does this decision bring beauty or value into my life?
2. Does this decision bring me joy?
3. Am I willing to give something (or someone) up to live my life authentically based on this decision?
Once I had written the questions out, I set the timer for 10 minutes, took a few deep breaths, and closed my eyes, listening in the silence for my heart to speak. After a few minutes I opened my eyes and continued to sit, taking in the beautiful hills beyond the rooftops, watching the blue jays play chase, and breathing deeply … no thinking, no doing, just sitting. When the timer went off, I went back to my notebook and wrote what came to me. I did not stop and question or try to manipulate what came out. When I got stuck, I set the timer for another 10 minutes and just sat. By the time I had done this two or three times, I was pretty sure that what I had written was an answer directly from my heart.
Most of the time, we do know what is in our best interest, what the right thing is for us to do, and why. Sometimes we let the opinions of others, especially those who are close to us, stir up feelings that make us question our decisions. When that happens, we need to take it to the mat, or chair, and learn to “sit with it” until we reconnect with the right answer. Often we find that silence can be our best and wisest friend.
This week our writing assignment on the Home Page is going to ask us to “take it to the mat.” As always, have fun with it, and keep writing!
Peace and blessings!