How very curious. In my last note, I wrote about Not Knowing. I wrote about what Not Knowing feels like in my body. I wrote about what Not Knowing feels like in my thoughts.
I know that right now we are in wide company in our Not Knowing.
And I know how terrifying that can feel.
Frozen in heart. Shivering in arms. Tightening in chest.
“It is unsafe here and now,” say the body and mind.
As it has for so many, a fear wave came over me late last week. Fear of what Is happening in other places. Fear of what could happen here. Fear of my own suffering. Fear of those whom I love suffering. Fear of the vulnerable suffering. Fear. Fear. So much fear wrapped into and around this zip and zoom of the unseen migration of covid-19. I walked around in this cloud of fear for most of two days.
“It’s coming… it’s coming… it’s coming,” pulsed the thoughts.
And then, a break of grace within.
On Friday, we returned from a couple of days at the lake and a few days prior to that in the Virginia Beach area. The van reflected said week of travel with its toy bags, overnight bags, sleeping bags and more packed and overflowing. We emptied the car and somewhere along the way, I tucked a magnet in my pocket. It was from my kiddos’ Curious George travel set. A big hit that has been around for the better part of eight years.
Later, in the midst of my functional fear fog, I put my hand into my pocket and felt something. I took it out and turned it over. A small sign stared back at me,
“South” in black block letters on a grey background about the size of my fingernail.
I paused. I felt. Clouds parted and clarity descended.
My mind was turned southward on the wheel of awareness.
It was turned toward a single point that was all consuming.
Fear in every direction in which it looked.
Yet, it was missing more.
It was missing the other 99% of the wheel of awareness.
It was missing True North.
The birds flying to and from the feeder, the sun shining bright and warm in the sky, the moon and the stars steady and quiet, the azaleas blooming, the wind dancing, my kid screeching in protest to her older sister, the swish swash of the dishwasher, the coolness of the air on my hands, the sound of a skillsaw at the neighbor’s house, the in and out of my breath.
The great, big, humongous flood of the millions of pieces that make up any given right Now.
The loudest thought is not the only one.
True North is a choice. It is a deliberate navigation of the mind to turn toward what soothes, nurtures and quiets. I was reminded of this when I saw the magnet and realized I was turned around on my path.
No matter. Pause, reorient to the compass, and start again.
Over and over and over. A million times we lose our way from True North. And a million times we turn toward True North.
This is yoga therapy. This is the art of slowing down. This is feeling what is arising and pausing to respond with skill and compassion. This is choosing to live what we value.
Fear is sharp and loud and hard.
In the same moment exists smooth and quiet and soft.
Ever here. Ever there. Now and always.
This is Is. This immeasurable hard in our world right now is very real. And in fact, it is always here. There is death and suffering then. There is death and suffering now. There will be death and suffering again.
It is hard. It is hard hard hard.
And yet as Frank Ostaseski says in his book The Five Invitations and regularly in his teachings, there is infinite suffering. And to meet it, there is infinite compassion.
Where do you stand right now on the wheel of awareness?
And for just one moment, just one breath, navigate to More.
Choose your True North.
I stand with you.
We stand together.
Wishing you peace,