Mar 24 2009
Today is my 60th birthday! It is more like a rebirth day. My recent diagnosis of uterine cancer has grabbed me by the ankles, turned me upside down, and spanked me vividly alive! The familiar day-to-day sameness that lulled me to sleep is upended as life sings me awake with a rousing lull- goodbye song. I open my birthday Present, fully here and now, brand spanking new…and scared.
I have been waking up with fear. There’s a lot of that going around right now. The country has been turned upside down, swatted on its bottom, and startled awake as the economy quakes on shaky ground. Maybe some of you are feeling fear right now in your lives about an illness, or the loss of a relationship, loved one, job, or home?
I am experiencing that fear has a life of its own. It is primal, survival oriented and hardwired. It will not release its grip easily. Like a tightly wound rosebud that cannot be forced open, it must be allowed to gently unfold. Fear is compelling – we can use it to help us unfold fully into this Present Moment and transform scared energy into sacred energy. I’d like to share with you the practice I’ve been doing that is helping me use fear to Wake Up and smell the roses.
I awake in the grip of fear. “I feel scared.” Acknowledging and naming the feeling is the first step. I generate curiosity about the fear. Where do I feel it? It is a clenching tension that feels like a boa constrictor wrapped around my entire body, squeezing most tightly around my throat, chest, solar plexus, and stomach. I notice my breathing is barely there. This act of witnessing has invited in another level of consciousness. Now there is fear and there is awareness. I spontaneously begin to breathe more fully.
I notice that this fear is like a child who is suffering. I cradle the fear. I place my hands on my throat and my heart, and comfort the fear. “Hello fear. You are welcome here. It’s okay to feel scared. I’m sorry you are suffering. I know this is difficult. I understand.” I place my hands over my uterus. “I love you. I’m sorry you are sick. I am so sorry to be losing you.” I cry. It is a good cry, releasing stress; the tears carry out the stress hormone cortisol. This is good grief. Now there is sadness, fear, awareness, and compassion and slow gentle breaths.
Compassion for others
Tonglen is a Buddhist meditation practice in which I breathe in my fear and sadness and feel it fully – I breathe out sending love and compassion to everyone who is feeling that same pain. Breathing in, I feel sad and scared – Breathing out, I send love to others who are feeling sad and scared. I repeat this for several minutes. This creates a feeling of love and connection to others. Now, in this expanding field, there is sadness, fear, awareness, and compassion for myself and for others.
My painful feelings are subsiding. I still feel them, but I am feeling serenity as well; I rest in a nurturing loving energy that embraces the pain. “Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace within the storm.”(unknown)
Trust, Acceptance, & Gratitude (TAG).
My feelings have calmed enough that I am now open to a higher awareness. I generate the energy of trust, acceptance and gratitude by affirming:
I Trust that I am loved, guided and watched over. I trust that things happen for a reason. I trust that my life is purposeful. I trust that everything will work out.
I Accept that this is what’s happening. It is what is. I breathe and allow it to be. This moment is perfect just as it is. I surrender to it. I become one with it.
I feel Gratitude for the many blessings in my life: my loving friends and family, my fellow journeyers (you) and learning buddies, my wonderful husband Tom. I am grateful for this opportunity to cultivate more awareness, love, trust, and acceptance in my life. I am grateful that I remember that this is what is most important to me. I am grateful that I am awake. I am grateful to fear for waking me up.
What challenges are waking you up? What feelings of yours want to be acknowledged, witnessed, held, and loved? Taking time to stop and smell the roses and feel the feelings allows them to unfold into the full bloom of Present Moment Consciousness. Makes sweet sense to me. I love getting roses on my birthday!
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