Maybe the day had a shitty you

I love this meme circulating on social media.

We may think we had a shitty day. Is the reverse also true, or more true? That the day had a shitty me?

Was it more about how I was and related to the day than the day itself?

Mysteries of the universe

Many of us are fascinated by the conventional mysteries of the universe.

How old is it? Was there an actual “beginning”? Does it have an end? Will it end in heat death or does it pulse? What’s behind the observations we label “black matter” and “black energy”? Is there other life in the universe? Is it intelligent? Has it visited us? What happened to Mary Celeste? Does bigfoot exist? Will we have controlled fusion within the next ten years?

These are entertaining and – for most of us – relatively unthreatening topics.

THE MYSTERY WITHIN WHAT WE THINK WE UNDERSTAND AND KNOW

And yet, the mysteries of the universe go far beyond this.

Anything we collectively think we know are stories with limited and temporary validity.

And anything I personally think I know are stories with limited and temporary validity.

These are stories with a practical function only. They help us orient and navigate in the world. They cannot reflect any complete, final, or absolute truth. Reality is always more than and different from our stories about it.

There is a fundamental mystery even in what’s most familiar to us and what we think we know and understand.

And taking that in is, in some cases, difficult. We may struggle quite a bit before we open to the ultimate mystery within what we think we know and understand.

What are our most cherished stories about ourselves, others, and the world? They may include basic assumptions about the world and ourselves. For instance, the world is knowable. I am a being and object in the world. They may also include politics and ethics. People should be decent and fair. People shouldn’t destroy nature. Greed is bad. And they may include our ideas about our own life and other people. I am a victim. Something terrible happened to me. I am good. She is a bad person. He shouldn’t lie. Or even metaphysics. God is love. God is a being. God is all of existence.

THE MYSTERY OF WHAT WE ARE

There is also the mystery of our own nature, and the nature of reality.

What am I more fundamentally, in my own first-person experience? How is it to allow this human self to reorganize within that noticing? How is it to live from it, here and now?

Is what I find also the nature of existence in general?

ENTERTAINING VS CHALLENGING MYSTERIES

Lisa may enjoy the entertaining and relatively unchallenging mysteries of the universe.

But does she enjoy the ones that challenge her most cherished assumptions about herself, others, life, and the world?

How do we relate to those more fundamental mysteries?

I’ve done so much growth and healing

In my experience, it’s difficult for me to know where I am in the healing, maturing, and even awakening and embodiment process. I have thoughts about it, but do I know for certain? Also, is it important?

HEALING AND AWAKENING

There are several sides to this.

I may work on a particular emotional issue. It subsides, I cannot easily retrigger it, and I may even feel and act saner in situations that previously triggered it. But do I know it’s healed?

The reality is that I cannot know for certain.

There may be aspects of the issue I haven’t addressed. Or related and similar issues that are part of a network. Or underlying issues that fueled this and other issues. Also, my conscious attitude or a state may temporarily override the issue, not allowing it to surface even in situations that previously did trigger it.

All of these are real possibilities, and it’s not a problem. If it comes up again, it just means there is more for me to explore and get to know.

I may grow and mature in one or more areas of life, and not in other areas. I may not even notice until life puts me in a situation where the lack of growth and maturing in some areas becomes very obvious.

The apparent awakening that’s here may seem timeless and obvious, and yet it may turn out to be a temporary state. Unawake parts of me may at any point be triggered and hook attention so I perceive and act from these unawake parts. Unawake parts of me, whether they are triggered or not, inevitably color my perception and actions.

In general, it seems there are always new layers of healing, growing, awakening, and embodiment. There is always more to explore and get to know. And if we are honest with ourselves, all of it is – in one way or another – surprising to us.

COMFORTING STORIES

I assume just about anyone on a healing or awakening path sometimes has had these thoughts.

This issue is healed. This class was profoundly transformative. Something in me shifted for good. I am so much more mature now than I was.

If we tell ourselves these stories and hold onto them as if they are important, what may be behind it?

One answer is that we may lack experience. I have the impression that I see these statements more often from people relatively early in their healing or awakening process (5-10 years?). They may have enough experience to have found effective tools, and they don’t yet have enough experience to question the validity of the “this is healed” or “this awakening is stable” statements.

Another is that it helps us maintain a desired image of ourselves and our process. Perhaps an emotional issue has troubled us greatly in the past, it’s now milder, and it feels comforting to tell ourselves it’s mostly (or completely) healed.

That’s natural, ordinary, and ultimately innocent.

It’s one of many crutches we use at different phases in our life and in our healing, maturing, and awakening process.

It’s necessary until it isn’t.

DRAWBACKS OF HOLDING ONTO THIS TYPE OF STORIES

If we hold onto these stories, we are out of alignment with reality. We tell ourselves something we cannot know for certain. We use it to cover up painful identities and emotional issues.

This will inevitably rub up against life and reality, and we create discomfort for ourselves to the extent we keep holding onto the stories. And in that discomfort is an invitation to look more closely at what’s happening.

EXPLORING WHAT’S BEHIND THESE STORIES

If we are curious about this, how can we explore it for ourselves?

The most effective approaches I have found are different forms of inquiry. We can identify and examine our stories using The Work of Byron Katie. And we can examine identities, fears, and compulsions through the Living Inquiries.

We can identify and invite in healing for any emotional issues behind this using whatever works best for us.

We can invite in a shift in our relationship to the scared (fearful, hopeful) parts of us of this through tonglen, ho’oponopono, and similar approaches.

We can explore any contractions in us through this. We can get to know them, befriend them, give them what they need, notice their nature, invite them to notice their own nature, and allow them to transform within that noticing.

A MORE PEACEFUL RELATIONSHIP WITH IT ALL

Of course, some don’t have this particular issue. They already hold all these stories lightly or they don’t seem relevant.

If we have this issue, it tends to shift over time. With experience, and perhaps through a more intentional investigation, we find more ease and peace around this. We hold our stories about all of it more lightly and with more receptivity and curiosity and expectations to be surprised. We see it’s all just part of the adventure.

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Meme & cartoon reflections I

I thought I would start a series of notes on memes and cartoons relating to healing and awakening. I’ll include the memes themselves and links to the cartoons.

BEFRIENDING OUR DEMONS

Yeah, I’m just alone with my demons, but it turns out they’re actually good company.

– a pandemic-isolation cartoon by Brooke Bourgeois in the New Yorker, May 4, 2020

I have found that too. Because of the chronic fatigue syndrome, I have been put in a retreat-like situation and I have had to face my demons. It’s not always easy and I have often wished it wasn’t that way, but it turns out that the demons are not bad company when I get to know them better.

In reality, they are just scared little parts of me. Parts created when I was little and didn’t know how to deal with situations apart from creating these parts to protect me. The demons are protectors. They are here to protect me. And by getting to know them, they are revealed as something else than demons. They are innocent and come from innocence. They are like scared children who needs love, safety, to be held, to be understood.

Running away from them, they become demons. Meeting them and getting to know them, they are revealed as something else.

In what sense are they good company? They are good company in that they are already me and closer than close to me. They are fascinating to get to know. And they are ultimately revealed as consciousness, love, and even – if that’s a word in our vocabulary – the divine.

This cartoon shows a woman talking on the phone at home, with demons around a table enjoying a game of Jenga.

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