My head ached, a migraine from the day before hadn’t dissolved like I had hoped, and my eyes burned from a restless night’s sleep.
My body and mind were full of discomfort that I struggled tolerating.
My partner, hearing my tired groan, placed his arm over my back in a gesture of comfort. Tired tears built up behind my eyes, but I pushed them down and gently maneuvered my way out of his embrace. I stumbled my way out of bed and found my way over to my meditation pillow.
He fell back to sleep.
I set the timer on my phone for 10 minutes and closed my eyes. I threw myself into my daily spiritual practice. Despite the appearance of a peaceful posture, I felt more tension build in my body and mind. The tension wanted a release, but with each breath, I pushed it back down. I couldn’t name or control it and just wanted it to go away.
I continued to sit until the timer went off.
I brewed myself my routine cup of coffee. I displaced the tension I was feeling onto the coffee making process. I jammed my hand against the drawer as I reached for a spoon and recklessly poured some milk into a mug, spilling it onto the countertop.
These simple yet careless mistakes almost pushed me over the edge. Again the tears rushed up behind my eyes, but I swallowed them with a sip of coffee and moved to the second part of my practice: reading something inspirational.
I mumbled “Good morning,” as my partner peered out of the bedroom, my eyes glued to a passage about feeling your feelings in The Untethered Soul. Again, I swallowed the anxiety that gripped my throat, tightening the small muscles along my neck on the way. I highlighted the inspiring passage.
I finished my reading and sat with my partner on the couch. While he leisurely checked his email, I turned on the TV and hit play on my recorded episode of Super Soul Sunday, continuing my practice. Oprah was interviewing Pastor, Robert Bell. I enjoyed Bell’s interview until I was triggered by something he said.
Oprah asked Bell to share the details of his personal spiritual practice. I was interested in what kind of meditation he practiced and the style of his prayers. He told Oprah that his life was his spiritual practice. He further explained that his relationships and interactions with his kids, his wife, his work, the people he encounters everyday, were all his “spiritual practice”.
In that moment, I felt like I had been energetically whiplashed: I realized that I was avoiding fully living my life by escaping behind my spiritual practice.
That morning, life, in its own way, was trying to bring what I was escaping and avoiding to the surface. I feared letting myself unravel in my practice and in my life. However, instead of ignoring Bell’s message, I made a different choice. I chose to take the step that life was paving for me… to show up despite the fear and to move through it consciously because my life was waiting…
I chose to receive his message. I knew I wanted what he described: an openhearted, conscious life. This was a leap from how I was living, but it was it what I wanted.
Life as a spiritual practice is the goal for many of us. We want it yet we also fear it because it requires facing all that we fear. Showing up for a conscious, openhearted life requires a tremendous amount of courage, faith and trust.
Having a safe, consistent space to open up, release, and ask for guidance informs and supports a conscious life. A life in which we show up with our hearts open and feet firm on the ground cultivates these qualities too. They both inform and support each other in a never-ending cycle
I shifted my morning spiritual practice, not in form, but in intention. The energy behind the practice was what changed. My practice was done out of love. Showing up for a conscious, openhearted life requires a tremendous amount of courage, faith and trust.
Courage, faith and trust must be cultivated and practiced. Having a safe, consistent space to open up, release, and ask for guidance informs and supports a conscious life. A life in which we show up with our hearts open and feet firm on the ground cultivates these qualities too. They both inform and support each other in a never-ending cycle instead of fear. It was done out of desire for a deeper connection instead of a fear of showing up. My practice became the loving, safe refuge that could hold my fear and transform it.
I took a deep breath and clicked the remote to “off.” I turned to my partner and embraced him with a softness that was absent when I awoke. I relaxed into the uncertain beauty of the moment and allowed the pain I had been avoiding all morning to coexist with my open heart.
My illusions about my practice had been stripped and I was left to embrace my life.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Hartwig HKD at Flickr