Life as Teacher, We as Avid Students
My reflection in meditation this morning was on the question, “What is my malaise and general mood of dis-ease about?” The thing that floated up first was my not accepting my human foibles, my faults and mistakes. The first foible I could not accept was my loss of control in pigging out on tortilla chips as a snack yesterday. I had been “good” most of the day, but there came a time around four o’clock that I woofed down a few handfuls of tortilla chips. Certainly not a big deal, and this morning I weighed in 2 pounds lighter than yesterday, but the self-loathing that came up about lack of discipline and control in my eating was out of all proportion to the reality of my “violation” of my self-made eating standards. This self-loathing for this unacceptable trait of not controlling what I eat dropped into my unconscious as a background of uneasiness, anxiety, and malaise that became a negative cloud overarching all else going on in my life, a profound negative mood in my background thinking.
Secondly what arose are the many details to think about regarding Sevenoaks in my roles of Treasurer, Board Member, and Chair of the Pathwork Council. How will we choose faculty for our school next year – always a tumultuous process that I seem not to be able to effectively lead. How shall we launch a new and stimulating graduate program? How shall we create a stimulating set of Pathwork workshops around the region and at Sevenoaks – workshops have been a struggle all year? All the accounting, forecasting and budgeting for all aspects of Sevenoaks takes lots of effort on lots of peoples’ parts – how will this all come together and will folks hang in to make it happen? These details swoop in and fill my mind with a myriad of distractions – driving my ADHD tendencies and certainly adding to my dis-ease and becoming disturbances to any sense of equanimity I might otherwise have.
Thirdly, in my work as helper and teacher I see a need to be competent with no human foibles or imperfections. This drives me away from simple presence, away from allowing myself to be a simple and clear channel for Spirit to engage the Spirit in the other. My striving to be competent keeps me from being competent. Can I accept even this aspect of my human condition?
To round out my dis-ease I noticed concerns with my relationship with Pat, no response to a few emails I sent out yesterday (needing everyone to respond instantly or I’ll think I’ve done something wrong, inappropriate, or incompetent in my emails), fear that my Pathwork lecture recordings are of poor quality, my voice not holding out (even though people keep asking for them), being behind on the blog entries I want to make, etc. All of this is what came up in response to my reflection inquiry about my malaise and general mood of dis-ease. So there you have it!
I shared my process with Pat during coffee time. I was asking further, “Why do I do what I do? Why do I diet, go to the gym three times a week, record the Pathwork lectures, serve in several offices of Sevenoaks, write my blog, etc., etc.?” Are these activities that fill my life coming from conditioning and patterns based on fear, a need to please others, to be accepted by others and myself? Or are these self-chosen activities coming as a natural spontaneous manifestation of my being, characterized by joy, freedom, and self-confidence as I joyfully engage with Life?
In sharing with Pat I could see my activities are some of both options, some from patterned compulsion, some as manifestations from deep within my being. Pat inquired about my state of consciousness in all of this. As I felt into her question I found that I was experiencing joy simply in coming to awareness of what goes on in me. This joy is in contrast to being caught up by and in the dis-ease and malaise. There is great joy arising in me as I come to awareness of what is going on to give me dis-ease and moods of melancholy. I can feel the joy of awareness and acceptance! I could see the process: I was finding joy in dis-ease by using the dis-ease to wake up!
Pat came back with an immediate “Yes! – That is what our process in AIP is all about!” I responded with, “Yes! These are life’s ‘beautiful problems.’ These problems help us wake up from our sleep in illusion about life.” Pat, “Awareness can hold it all. Life is our teacher!” Gary, “Yes, and I am an oh-so-avid student!” Pat, “That stands you in good stead.” And of course Pat is a fellow student. Being students in the School of Life is something we truly share.
Pat went on, “I appreciate hearing you speak of the energy and feel of things. At times my perception is that you sometimes use more concrete words. In this broader space – the energy and feeling space – things are held in a broader and deeper context – beyond words. Presence joins the looking. Things begin as mental constructs. As you stay with it and allow the energy to come in, the situation moves from dis-ease to teacher. This is a good view of our coffee time. Our time begins in our minds, but we’ve come to have a capacity to stay with it, to open and look.” So true, so true.
Over the weekend Pat and I attended a ballroom dancing contest. We enjoyed their poise, presence and movement a lot. These folks are so into this and get so much out of it. It is not about the contest and winning but rather about the joy and commitment these people have for ballroom dancing. We noted that there are many things that people get into and that become central for their lives, or at least very important in their lives. For some it is sports, for others being in a singing group, for still others being part of a church or other organization. For some it is a hobby like photography, or travel, and so on.
So we asked, “What is it that we are so into? What brings us Life?” Then it dawned on us: our self-development from personal, psychological, and spiritual perspectives IS our life, our hobby, our avocation. We truly enjoy these processes we are in with AIP and Pathwork. We enjoy our morning engagement over coffee. We are not making our passion better than or worse than all the other passions we could have or that others have chosen, but we are clear that spiritual, psychological, and personal development – this self-facing – is where our lives are most energized and our juices flow. Hence our topic here, Life as Teacher, We as Avid Students.
Pat ran across a saying by Teilhard de Chardin that fits our following AIP and Pathwork and our togetherness as a couple. I titled it “Whom Do We Follow.” (click here)
With love, Gary