I have something to admit.
All those feelings Sharon Salzberg mentions in that quote featured above—I’ve been feeling them. Big. Time. I’ve been seeing (and experiencing) lessons in impermanence left and right. And it’s got my metaphorical panties in a wad. Sure, from a philosophical standpoint, I “get” that it’s the nature of things. Change is the only constant. Yada, yada…
But I’m still struggling with accepting this fact. I constantly find myself trying to dig my heels into some semblance of firmer ground, stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that it’s all just sand slipping through the hour glass. And I’ve been avoiding sharing any of this with you because there’s this little voice inside me that keeps saying,
“You’re a mindfulness facilitator. You should have a handle on managing your angst by now. The people who read your blog don’t want to hear about all the uneasiness you’re facing. Chill out, buck up—and get your act together!”…
But then there’s this other voice that eventually kicks in… This kinder, gentler one that recognizes the aforementioned voice as an old pattern of being—my “Shit” bubbling up and running its old familiar script from decades of living with little to no self compassion. This kinder, gentler, other voice is the personification of my mindfulness practice kicking into high gear. Helping me let go of the stream of self judgments. Gently guiding my attention away from all the “shoulding” I do on myself.
And reminding me that I’m a mindfulness facilitator—not a saint.
So, I’m doing the best I can to take care of myself right now. For me, this entails meditating daily, spending a good deal of time in nature, exercising my body, eating healthy foods, and exposing my mind to things I find spiritually soothing (like reading one of the myriad books on mindfulness at the public library). Of course, doing any of these things when I’m feeling off-center is usually the last thing I want to be doing…. But I do them anyway because they, inevitably, prove helpful in shifting whatever negative pattern might be messing with my mojo.
Case in point—the other day my Shit was particularly loud when I woke up. Confusion? Check!…Fear? Check!…Self-doubt? Double-check!… And getting out of the house to go for a jog seemed like an insurmountable chore.
But I did it anyway.
While I was jogging, I decided to stream a random episode of one of my favorite spiritually-minded podcasts, “On Being.” As I was cooling down (and still feeling somewhat angsty), I hear Sharon Salzberg say the quote up at the top of this post. And it literally stopped me in my tracks.
In that moment, I saw how tightly I’d been holding onto my struggles in an effort to protect myself from being judged for having them. But, in my effort to protect myself, I inadvertently cut myself off from what could potentially help me feel less alone in the process: other people.
And I was also reminded that the truly compassionate thing to do when I’m having a hard time is to be open and truthful about it… Because allowing myself to be vulnerable not only helps me manage my struggles—it just might help someone else feel less alone in theirs….