It’s early morning.
The sun is rising, and I’m sitting in my pajamas in a wrought iron rocker on my back patio with my morning coffee, iPhone, and animal spirit cards.
I’m surrounded by hydrangea, azaleas, gardenias, and this summer’s white impatiens, which have become tall and leggy but still cast a luminescent glow in the predawn light. The air is cool with a hint of fall, and I wrap a blanket around my shoulders to keep off the chill.
I shuffle the deck, cutting the cards over and over and making sure they are well-mixed—I think about the day ahead and what energy it will bring. This is a ritual I have done almost every morning since COVID-19 began.
I had just lost my mom—on top of losing my dad six months prior. I needed something inspirational, guiding, and private. I had therapy, work, and friends, and I had lots and lots of feelings.
Creating a space and ritual every morning to explore different aspects of myself and thinking about what in my life was in balance, what was out, and what I needed to do to become in balance was helpful in navigating my loss and this new world reality.
I cut the deck into three piles, then reassemble them. I pull the top card and turn it over, anticipating what it will tell me.
It’s the stingray—again.
According to the guidebook, the stingray represents a pivotal point in personal growth, deciding between the old (comfortable) and the new (uncomfortable). To bring into balance, one needs to “move through the discomfort.” I pull that card a lot, and to be honest, it’s not my favorite.
I think about what situation or part of me is “stuck” and why, what is making me too comfortable or what is calling me to grow (which is uncomfortable), and which part of me on this day needs to be examined.
I have recently started the “Write Your Heart Out” class in the Elephant Academy. I am excited but really nervous. Most of my writing lately has been private journaling or business communications. I didn’t know we would actually have to publish in the online magazine for the world to see.
I was hoping I could hide and receive comments and edits from my mentors and editors—but not publish live, and not so soon, at least.
Our assignment for this first week is to publish a piece about our relationship with maitri, live—on the website.
I don’t like that this makes me uncomfortable. I wish to think of myself as confident and brave. I start second-guessing and reverting back to self-doubt. Who am I to have anything to say? Would my thoughts and words even be of benefit? Maybe I will skip this. But I remembered in our first class, we were asked to type “two feet in” in the comments if we were willing to go all in and be fully engaged.
I had hesitated, knowing if I typed it, I would be making a commitment to myself and others to be brave and vulnerable.
This will be a day that I feel discomfort. I need to sit with it, move through it, acknowledge it, and make friends with it.
I need to accept the parts of myself that I don’t like and honor the parts that I do.
It is a conscious choice that I’m making, and this will be the beginning of my journey with maitri.
I take a picture of the stingray card to keep on my phone as a reminder. I sip my coffee. The sun has fully risen. I notice the dew on flowers and foliage, now fully visible. The birds are chirping and darting in and out of the feeders. The squirrels have begun their search for nuts among the bushes. It’s time to begin the day. I walk inside to the computer.
I’m two feet in.
Can you attempt to practice maitri without even knowing it? I don’t know. But this feels like a good way to begin.