One of the most important health skills
Back in February, I had the good fortune of attending the inaugural in-person On Being Gathering. It was all sorts of amazing. Restorative and uplifting while also allowing space for challenging questions and explorations.
When I arrived, I realized I was carrying a pondering in my heart. Days before, in an appointment, a woman had shared that she was apprehensive about our visit mostly because life had become stressful and following her treatment plan had been a challenge. She worried that our visit would be a waste of time since “she hadn’t done everything.”
I felt a slight sadness after. On the one hand, I’ve learned that far from being a waste these are often important visits that help keep the longer arc bent towards healing. Yet, I also know the weight and worry of accountability and potentially letting myself (or someone else) down.
Interestingly, during afternoon meditation at the Gathering, while I got distracted thinking about what would be for dinner that evening and if I’d be judged if I took two bowls because I was just that hungry, the meditation teacher reminded us that if we got distracted we could just gently come back. That all was not lost if we got carried by a thought (or distracted by thinking about our next meal). That the skill was in the recognition and gentle return.
I’ve thought a lot about that meditation in the months since. Especially in regards to those visits that could potentially feel like a waste because someone ran into a challenge or got derailed.
So much in our culture is all or nothing. Just do it. Get it right. If we didn’t do all the plan, we have to self select ourselves out of “success”. Then, in comes the judgment making it that much harder to redirect course.
However, life happening is inevitable. Being shaken is inevitable. I think that the ability to come back is a much better skill for health and healing than the unattainable perfection of 100% adherence.
By cultivating a generosity of spirit that allows ourselves to begin again and again, we’re strengthening the coming back muscle. It takes some practice. That’s true. But every time we come back, let’s call it what it is. A win.
With much warmth,
ps: I’ll leave you with this gem from one of the interviews at the Gathering. Apparently, we’re made of stars. An astrophysicist says so:
“But I would contend that when we learn that the atoms that make up our cells were manufactured in the cores of stars, empathy grows, because you realize the connectedness not just of all humans, but of all humans and all living creatures, everything in our biosphere, our shared biosphere.”