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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

FINDING THE "I" IN THE STORM (Part II)

When I woke in the morning, I took my daily walk to the gate with the dog. There were branches, twigs and leaves strewn all over the driveway and lawn as testament to the overnight storm.  A couple of days later I went cycling on one of my favourite trails, to find the route occasionally blocked with fallen trees.  The storm had passed, but it had left some fall-out.  And so it is with all storms: eventually they pass, but often they leave behind some damage, if not devastation.  

Last week I wrote about finding calm in the midst of the storms which pass through our lives from time too time.  The storms are all too often self-inflicted by our minds' and bodies' response to outside stimuli. In fact, the storms largely comprise of our inner angst, our anger, fear and disconnection.  Everything else is just circumstance.

We learn that, at the centre of a cyclone lies the eye, a place of calm and relative peace.  I want to suggest that that same place exists at the centre of our own storms.  We call it the "I". 

A teacher of ours in the '80's and '90's, the late Dr Jean Klein, said that we are not our bodies, we are not our thoughts, nor our feelings and emotions. If that is so, then we are not the storm, nor part of it, even if our minds create it.  The still place within us lies beneath the havoc of the storm, and the fall-out only happens if we permit it to do so.  The fall-out occurs when we link the outside circumstance to our own state of self-image, self-esteem and so on.

Our "I am" state is rather a state of consciousness, a state of connection with all things.  So long as we remain connected with ourselves, others and Life, we can manage the fall-out from the storm.

Finding the "I" in the storm requires a letting go of all demands that things should be different (that is, that the outside circumstances shouldn't be happening).  It requires us not to judge or blame others (including Life or God) for setting these circumstances on us: it is simply a letting go of the blame, letting go of the resentment and forgiving whoever or whatever may be the object of that resentment.  In order to find the "I", we are invoked to explore the possibilities being offered by the circumstances of the storm: the possibility of a clean start, of clearing out dead wood, of accessing the higher and most noble parts of ourselves, of maintaining our personal integrity and so on.

Letting go of ideas, judgements, expectations, demands and resentments that we insist on hanging onto can be more than challenging, especially when we insist we are right.  In hanging on like that, however, all we are doing is pandering to the ego's demands and that keeps us from accessing the conscious place of the "I".  

There are many tools and techniques for coming to stillness: meditation each day, positive affirmations and so on, but for me the greatest gift we have is that of our gratitude.  So long as we can express gratitude each dayunconditionally, for ALL that is in our lives, how is it possible then simultaneously to feel and express anger and resentment about what is in our lives?  Gratitude seems to me also to be a way of accessing our courage and transcending fear, which after all is the piece that makes us scared when the outside circumstances enter our lives.

So try saying thank you to Life each day for whatever it has delivered to you.  You may not immediately recognise its gifts, but you will.  

And when you do, you will find yourself in the tranquil "I" of the storm.

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