So a friend recently sent me an e-mail detailing her wrestles with Depression and the hectic nature of her life recently… I responded thusly…
It sounds like you’ve been facing some cross-roads moments of your own this last year. I know that territory well myself, as you know I’ve had some this year myself. You mention meditation and exercise. I am diving into sitting practice myself and can recommend the book Kissing the Limitless by T. Thorn Coyle. There are a lot of excercises and meditations and journaling type excercises related to integrating the many aspects of the self that I know I have found deeply valuable as I have begun to wrestle with my own difficult and turbulent emotions in the last few months.
A lot of wisdom in there, that and When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron have both been helpful to me.
Embrace the stillness and silence to be found in mindfulness and meditation, I say this as one who is struggling to follow that exact advice, but NOW I know that the reason they are called spiritual practices is because we have to return to them again and again, open to ourselves and to the vagaries of daily life and sometimes we can settle into stillness and sometimes our hearts and minds are determined to flit around like hummingbirds. Yet return we must, lovingly to ourselves and to our practices, again and again.
Hold fast to your friends and family, I say this as someone who lost touch with a lot of his loved ones after the big move down; and who, for whatever reasons, has not always been as good at keeping in touch with our making new friends. You are a dear friend, and I will never forget your loving care in the aftermath of my break up with Gene. Or that green ink marker and the kindness you shared. Our friends and loved ones are the other mirrors of our contemplation in life, hold fast to them.
At the same time, I would say do not fear solitude; provided you have some clear boundaries between solitude and lonliness. Solitude can strengthen us but loneliness only leads to unclear thought and wrong action either towards ourselves or others.
Know that you are loved, and that there are many folks who are more than ready to share their friendship and loving kindness with you.
…I have often been, and tried to be, a good and compassionate and loving friend. I would like to think there have been a number of times over the years where I have been able to be a good advisor and source of moral support and loving kindness.
“For Mine is the spirit of ecstasy,
and mine as well is joy on earth,
and love unto all beings is my law.”
How is it that it is only in the last few months that I have been able to turn that same Love, which I have so often been willing to shine onto others, inward? Why did I hold back from approaching my own life, and work, and spiritual practice and Work, with that same compassion and love? I mean the Holy Powers know I have talked a good game over the years, about self-esteem and spiritual self-love and such, but it feels as if only recently is it really sinking in.
Some of this comes, I think, from approaching my spiritual practice with discipline. I have been writing and keeping a Practice Contract, as outlined in Thorn’s book, with myself. (He dives to his paper journal)
Practice Contract 12-25-09 thru 01-25-10
I Geoffrey David Stewart, known as Pax, known as *****, hereby swear and affirm, by all I hold sacred and fine.
- Each day upon awakening for the day I shall pray my daily prayer and Center and Ground.
- Once each day I will breathe into each of my Chakras and perform the Cleansing Life Force exercise.
- At least once each day I will spend some time in meditation.
- Each day I will engage in some physical activity for exercise.
So mote it be, Blessed Be,
Geoffrey D. Stewart
Now I was a little ambitious and added 2 things, instead of just one, for this, my third practice contract in the three months or so that I have been trying to really actively engage my practice and growth and to do the Great Work. I have been a little slack on the excercise portion of things, but then again it’s been an especially crazy time at work…
In the past I would have wallowed in a sense of defeat in not getting that excercise portion of things, I would have worried and criticized myself for not doing practice A at time B or for not doing such-and-such by the book or in the same exact way I had done it before. I would have allowed myself to give up on the whole practice and wandered down the outmoded but deeply worn paths of my old selfs self-loathing and insecurity. No more!!
Now, I simply sigh and smile and remind myself that I can return to my practice tomorrow, and if I do not get to everything today, that I can always start fresh again the next day. As that great spiritual guru Scarlet O’hara said, “Tomorrow is another day.”