Welcoming Anxiety and Discomfort
I shared my anxiety over my day’s agenda with Pat. Top of the list was the 9:00 AM Pathwork Counsel meeting, which I shall chair. Why am I anxious about this, why would I rather be doing something else – like recording lectures, writing my blog, etc.? There is a lot on the table for the Pathwork Council – how will the Pathwork school look next year in our various programs? Setting up a Helper Retreat, getting budgets and forecasts in for next year, developing a process for selecting faculty, assimilating a new crop of Helper apprentices, addressing some administrative issues in the existing program as we come up to the March sessions, and so on – all details that have to be addressed and worked through. And so much ambiguity as to what is “right action.” And then the challenge of helping us all to be on the same page when our styles and opinions are so varied at times.
Pat also identified areas where she was anxious, actions she felt she should have taken but hasn’t as of yet. Just as with the Pathwork Counsel, there are areas of ambiguity and confusion over “right action.” This confusion and ambiguity stalls the decision process and clogs the energy flow.
Pat: So you have to stay stable in this, Gary. You are the holder of a lot here with the Pathwork Council. You have to hold the unknown until the energies configure and show the way. And you are good at this.
Gary: I jump over the “and you are good at this,” fairly well dismissing it. Rather I say, “I may be good at this, but I am uncomfortable holding all this. I’d rather do something else that wasn’t uncomfortable. I want Joy and Pleasure Supreme, not the uncomfortableness of this ambiguity intensified by a sense of urgency.”
But then an insight came up. My ego, living in duality, wants things good, not bad, pleasurable, not painful. The old 100/0 of Bert’s and Moira’s 50/50 Pathwork Program. But my discomfort is real. It stems from lack of trust in the Cosmos, a certain amount of laziness, and other distortions. But causes aside, this is who I am just now. Can I simply accept my discomfort and all in me that gives rise to discomfort? Just hold it all? True Joy on the Non-dual plane of consciousness does not mean all bliss and no pain. It means accepting what is and being curious about what in me is blocking the bliss. Just be with it all on the bridge between duality and Unity, this place of non-dual consciousness. That is the place to see and accept the truth of me.
I am reminded of Moses who faced lots of frustration. His was not a life of all joy and no suffering. Yet he could hold it all. Eventually he accepted his call to lead the people of Israel and take on whatever that meant. Sure, he would have preferred to have stayed with his wife and be a shepherd and not get caught up in the Exodus. But his Call was otherwise.
So here I am, holding my frustration and discomfort as part of Life. My inner kid would prefer a life of perfect and permanent ease. But my mature adult can stand on the bridge of current reality and hold the truth that right now both pain and pleasure are here. Being uncomfortable does not mean I am not on the path, though often I fear that this is what pain means – the belief that if I were on the path I would have all bliss and no pain. In fact, feeling my discomfort and frustration on the path enlivens me. I am free to be me, frustrations and all. This is the space of freedom to be me, this space of Welcoming All Guests in Rumi’s The Guest House is what is invited here. I do not have to eat peanut butter crackers or run away to other activity to avoid the inevitable pains of life and to pacify my inner kid. Rather, I accept adult responsibility, feel my pain, and yet take time to comfort my inner kid with compassion as he grows and matures.
With love, Gary