“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Rumi
I’ve read lots of articles recently about being with family in such a highly charged political environment. As healing arts professionals, most of us have worked long and hard on developing our skills in listening, setting boundaries and standing in what’s true for us without bashing the “other.” Nonetheless, it can be challenging, the best thing I’ve read so far on this topic was an article in the WSJ.
I want to take a minute and look at this topic of being with our friends and family from the perspective of the AAIT principles. Leaning into these principles can open us to new possibilities and deeper understanding in the face of varied points of view.
You know how it is when we get pulled off of core values and then move through the world in a cloud of muck? Yeah. That’s not cool. And, it happens. It seems to be happening a lot these days. Principles can help us realign and meet others in the space of the heart.
The real self is not an object or the sum of a narrative. The real self is a BE-ing. Aim to align with your real self rather than the false conditioned, limited self. Aim to connect with the real self of others, beyond the layers of disagreement or agreement, beyond the layers of fear and anger. Many of you may have heard me say, “If you go deep enough in the stormiest of seas, there is a point of stillness. In the same way, if you go deep enough in the human heart, there is stillness, equipoise.” I do this by leaning into my AAIT practice coupled with meditation and lovingkindness.
Self acceptance is a means and measure of well-being. Remember, acceptance is not about liking or approval. Start where you are. Even if where you are is feeling resistant to acceptance. Accept that. Identify what you are experiencing. Focused attention on acceptance is like “spiritual judo” as Zivorad would say. You can even use the Formula for the Elimination of Self Sabotage to help. Place two fingers to your chest, silently repeat “Even though I think / feel _______” I love and accept myself, my body and personality and the fact that I think / feel _______.” Follow that up by placing your index finger underneath your left eyebrow close to the bridge of the nose and simply experience that thing you are working to accept while taking a couple of easy breaths. Lean into acceptance with the understanding that acceptance does not mean approval. If you follow me on Facebook, you know I’m quite politically vocal. Nor does acceptance mean acquiescence.
Taking responsibility for and tending to our inner state is the source of our freedom. Start where you are. Is your state where you want it to be? If you are not in a good state of being, it is unlikely that you will be able to tap into connecting with your real self or with the real self of anyone else. The most empowering decision you can make is to take responsibility for and tend to your state. How will you tend to your state? What will help you come back home, to your real self when you have gone off course? Sometimes a little time out to tend to ourselves is just what we need.
Resolving reactivity reveals higher states of consciousness. Have you noticed this? Have you noticed how when you are not triggered, it’s easy for you to land in some higher perspective? There are many ways of resolving reactivity, exercise, meditation, deep listening, deep breathing — by far, the most effective and long lasting means of stepping into higher states of consciousness through the doors of reactivity are the integration tools I’ve learned from Slavinski and his students. We do not need to stay activated to be activists. It’s likely that you can predict just who will “push your buttons” over the Thanksgiving dinner table. Bring them to mind and do a little pre-work. Zivorad calls this clearing the future.
Integration of two opposing states can alleviate suffering. For those of you who know reliable integration methods, you know this. This is a no brainer. If you don’t know how to integrate two opposing states, it may be useful to simply bring the opposing state to mind. This will likely not result in a full integration but can give you some relief. For instance, if you find yourself feeling impatient or annoyed with someone, as unlikely as that might be, focus on the impatience take a couple of easy breaths just letting yourself feel it. Then think of some situation when you felt patient or saw someone be really patient, just notice what you experience as you think about that situation. Rock your awareness back and forth between those two states a few times and notice what happens for you.
Finally, many of my clients (mostly helping professionals) in the last couple of weeks have described feeling like the pain of others is sticking to them more than it normally would. Below is a little meditation I’ve offered several of them to help re-center. Perhaps this will be useful to you.