I have been through some storms in my time: financial, health, relationship, career... I like to think I have weathered them all fairly well, my evidence being that I am still here to tell the tale. What has been so each time, however, has been how overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, angry or generally disconnected I have often felt at the time. The disconnection has always been multi-faceted: with others, Self and Life (or God, if you prefer).
The other night we had a massive wind storm at our house. As I lay in bed at 3am listening to windows and doors banging, trees groaning, branches falling from trees and the howl of the wind through the gorge, it suddenly seemed so obvious how one weathers, or at least copes with storms.
Whether we choose it or not - a point of debate in itself - we are all visited at some time or times in our lives by stormy weather, both in the physical and metaphorical senses. My health storms have included my own back trouble over the years, a passing heart issue two years ago and some serious health issues experienced by family members, with the attendant knock-on effects for the rest of the family. Each time the storms struck, I found myself gripped for periods by anxiety, fear of what might happen, apparent helplessness and so on. I only truly weathered each storm when I took responsibility for my own state in the storm.
As I lay in bed that night listening to the noise, it came to me that that was all it was - noise. Despite the noise and minor destruction taking place outside, I remained comfortable and unharmed in my bed whilst the wind raged around me. Whatever my anxiety for the integrity of the house, within myself I was fine.
If I transpose that concept to the health storms I described earlier, whilst there were times when I was sore, or weak or breathless, inherently there was a part of me that was separate from the pain and physical aspects, that remained separate from what my mind did with all the stimuli from my body and the ailments of my family members. The stimuli simply trigger our thought patterns and inform the meaning we place on those stimuli. The meanings we place on them are what make us scared, or angry or disconnected. That is the true storm: the sensations, feelings and thoughts that go with the events.
However, in our essence we are not those sensations, feelings or thoughts. We are inherently separate from those, and in that place of separateness lies our salvation and the peace that is available despite the storm.
I am told that there is calm in the eye of a hurricane. Thankfully I haven't had the opportunity to test that physically for myself, but accepting that that is so, it is no different with us as human beings. There is a place within and sometimes sitting beneath all the mental and physical turmoil which is still and peaceful. It is that place which we have the opportunity to access.
YBH (Yes, but how?) I will discuss that next week. For the meantime, it is enough to know that the place exists.