Outgrowing something, as opposed to solving it, feels very different, more doable.
Especially when I reflect on how much I already have outgrown: teenage giggles, looking for Romeo, entire wardrobes, thinking I could change others’ ideas, and the belief that I have control over my life.
We are able to see things differently only when we expand into a greater vista, and not a moment before.
We can’t make ourselves see what we are not ready to see, any more than we can force ourselves to go to sleep. We can only be willing by creating the conditions that nurture a new, more beautiful way of seeing, and wait.
Two essential aspects of spiritual growth we can nurture are: time and patience.
Tolstoy names time and patience as his two most powerful generals in the defeat of Napoleon in War and Peace.
My experience is that patience, practiced over time, has transformed my seeing, revealing easier and more harmonious ways to meet the troublesome issues that confused and upset my world.
Time and patience are our spiritual warriors.
“Everything comes in time for one who knows how to wait.”
Learning to wait. Yes, there is the rub.
It’s very difficult to wait if we do not trust.
So, discovering what was trustable in my life came first. Where could I always find the support that I so needed? It wasn’t from my family of birth. It wasn’t something I could count on from my friends.
I discovered nothing from the outside would ever give me the constant support that was trustable under all conditions.
It dwelled within, and it wasn’t something I could command.
Spiritual support only came as I waited in the silence, with as much patience as possible.
As I waited, I became more aware of what my mind was doing, for out of it came the issues of my life.
This is not easy work. It demands persistence. But the rewards are lavish— tranquility, a life of meaning, hope, and the strength to meet life as it arrives moment by moment.
I attended to my attitudes. When I worried, I called it out and didn’t let it hide in the unconscious. “There you are, worry. I see you.” I simply breathed and watched as it moved within my psyche, my body, and let it dissolve on its own. Force only binds things closer.
I watched the mind trying to figure things out. “Just give it a rest,” I said. For I knew needed information will arrive as I remained patient and watchful.
Trying to figure things out is probably our most damaging myth. Perhaps we outgrow this each time we admit that our “best thinking” got us here.
Mark Twain jested that his life had been filled with terrible tragedies, most of which never happened.
Yes, worry has been one of my major challenges.
Whatever crosses my mind is something that might be worthy of worry. Thus it has become a habit, a way of energizing and structuring any condition or situation.
Worry shouts out: “You won’t get it right.” “You don’t know enough.” “You’ll do it wrong.” “Something bad is going to happen.”
Even if what I worried about last week or last year didn’t actually materialize, the thought, “It probably will now.” sneaks in.
When we understand that the root word of worry is “to strangle” we may doubt its ability to help. We may be quicker to abandon it as an anxiety managing technique since strangling simply doesn’t help a situation.
Habits dissolve as they are closely observed, watched. We gradually outgrow them.
Drop the story right smack dab in the middle of it. The thinking mind—the story teller/interpreter— doesn’t really understand the meaning of what took place, nor does it know the outcome or the best solution.
Thoughts are just thoughts. Watch them come and watch them go. Breathe deeply and consciously. Return to the direct experience within the body. Pay attention to what my hands and feet are doing. How am I breathing? Slow, relaxed, or short and hurried?
Notice resistance. Simply watch is happening within my body. Stay aware, feel these tight, heavy places and breathe with them. They loosen up allowing more flow in the body and mind.
Investigate emotions as they arise and move through me. I patiently allow myself to feel whatever I feel. Let it be. This is the way it is for me, for now. I observe their impermanence. Emotions can’t kill, but when indulged in or acted upon they can surely do great damage, including killing.
Above all, I remember that mind is the beginning of everything—those tiny, moment by moment choices change and structure what is to come.
We can choose our thoughts and actions, but we can’t choose their consequences.
Each moment is a branch moment, a place of making a new choice. This is where the power resides.
Patiently doing this day after day new ideas come forward creating a different picture of life. I have a larger view of the situation and feel a greater freedom.
I trust this moment to give me what I need, maybe not what I want, but what I need.
And I can smile at the old way of being, when I believed I actually could figure everything out if I tried hard enough!
I find myself lovingly saying, “Easy there, lizard brain. Give it a rest.”
“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself.”
A Buddhist Proverb