“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly, child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.” – Aldous Huxley, from his last novel, “Island.”
Sometimes life comes attcha hard. Hard and heavy. And you find a stranger living inside who doesn’t have a clue what to do about it. You hate it and you struggle with it and you look for a way out. A way back to lightness. To lightly. To yourself.
Something as simple as losing a Medicare drug prescription benefit, as I did in December, triggered it. Hard and heavy unceremoniously plunked itself down. In time, the problem was solved.
But even after the problem was solved, I was not “myself” for a couple of weeks. The heaviness of it all just hung on. Lost was the mature, reasonable elder I thought I was – or that I felt I should be.
I expected to return to normal. Normal meant that I could get back to a contented, in-control, independent, dependable life again. But normal did not show up. Some stranger had unceremoniously plunked herself down. And the things that had worked before to get me back to normal no longer worked.
Who we think we are always takes a hit some time.
It turned out that this was my time.
It turns out that we each wind up needing to find our own particular way back to the lightness. And the way to the lightness can change over time.
The prayers of a religious person are one path, and one that has sustained me since my 30’s. But even praying can need to evolve over time.
Many find the lightness in nature, or in the many embraces of love. Others cultivate a lightness from a mind filled with gratitude.
Creativity in all its forms opens the lightness up as our minds reach for the truth and beauty that we can find there.
Humor and laughter lighten the load, as do stories shared with someone who understands.
I could go on…name your own.
What tends to show up when the need is dire – and when our spirit is ready – are saving graces that come out of the woodwork, piling on top of each other for attention, eager to lead us away from where we’re stuck. To lead us on the way ahead that’s just been waiting for us to show up. Leading us, yes, to the lightness we yearn for. No matter how young or how old we are.
And so they showed up. Those graces that always bat last! And they led me this time to mindfulness meditation.
The first grace: a chance interview that I came upon with Eckhart Tolle – beloved modern mystic who talks about being in the present moment, in the “now.” About letting go of thought that leads nowhere good, so that we can be fully present in this now. About meeting the good of peace and calm and presence.
The second grace: the surprise gift of Eckhardt Tolle’s pivotal book, “The Power of Now,” from my blogger mentor, showed up so that I could begin to learn more of the gift of meditation and contemplation.
The third grace, a chance video that appeared on YouTube by Fr. Richard Rohr, a Christian mystic, who made sense of these newly minted things in the context of my Christian beliefs showed up.
Then the last grace: the chance beginning of a mindfulness meditation series – done by phone – by my blogger friend, Martha Brettschneider, showed up. Mindfulness meditation centers on the present moment, on learning to let go of intrusive thoughts and feelings and finding calm in the moment. (Whoa! Our brains are actually changed by meditation, it turns out!)
They all showed up within days of each other. They appeared in those days when I was just “not myself” – because “hard and heavy” knew I needed to find a renewed Self. Of course, that would mean change.
A desire to change is the crucible for a renewed life.
My crucible, at 78, was to be found in mindfulness meditation.
Eleven days of meditation now – rising at the ungodly hour of 5:15 – was a major challenge for this night owl. Exhausted and in a fog on days 4 and 5, I thought I might be too old to make it through 30 days. I hated that my ageism was showing up!
But this had become my Boot Camp.
Both of my sons were in the military, and both had made it through Boot Camps. Why? Because those who make it through have decided that a worthy goal is worth any sacrifice. That even the toughest stuff doesn’t need to defeat us.
It takes grit, determination, commitment and hope.
I have all four. And believing in the goal is where it has started and where it remains: the goal and gift of living lightly.
My sleep deprivation has been overcome. And neuroplasticity – the capacity of the brain to grow stronger connections in meditation – just may be at work. I’m seeing intimations of just that and I’m eager to see it showing up some more in the next 19 days.
Lightness. Yes, there is a new lightness, child.
Finding the way to a renewed Self.
Major letting go has already arrived.
It’s freedom, my friends! Sweet, sweet freedom! Believe in the goal, and your graces will come.
Seek your own path and they will show up.
Trust your road ahead and give yourself to it and the lightness will find you.
And I’m betting that we’re all pretty alright with that!
Two delightful and wise ways to find that lightness we all need! Well worth your time! Look where they led me!