As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world.– Gautama Buddha
Sometimes progress is slow going. And sometimes we get downright stuck, seemingly not moving at all. It’s in those moments that we often question ourselves. Self-doubt creeps in and clouds our mind and we wonder if we are even on the right track. Or if we will ever accomplish our goals. Or if we will ever get beyond our present circumstances.
So how do we continue to grow and even flourish in times of upheaval when things seem to be spiraling out of control? 2020 feels like one of these moments. If I’m being honest, there have been plenty of times this year that I’ve wondered, as the Marvin Gaye song questions: What’s going on?! And I know that I’m not alone. I took a recent poll on my Facebook page asking friends for the song they felt represented 2020 and about half of the people who responded did so with a song that spoke about doom and destruction. And I get it. There are many areas in our society that feel stuck and like they are pulling us back. But even in these times I still feel hopeful that we ARE growing.
At the farmers market this weekend I spoke to a local artist about a piece of her artwork depicting a woman sitting in the lotus position, meditating. Out of her head sprung a tree and at the top was a lotus flower. I asked about the symbolism of the art and she explained that the lotus erupts from the muck and mud, unsullied. As it grows it becomes deeply rooted and makes its way toward the sun rising from the murky water with the slightest sliver of light guiding its way. As it unfolds, one beautiful petal at a time the water rolls off of the flower and it remains pure. The lotus symbolizes enlightenment, compassion, non-attachment, and overcoming obstacles.
How can we stay grounded while directing our energy upward, letting the unrest roll off of us like the water rolls off of the lotus flower as it’s petals slowly unfold to reveal its beauty? How do we stand up for what we believe to be right, while firmly planted in our beliefs and values? What will we have learned at the end of this year? How will we have grown?
“Once you are rooted in your own center, nothing from outside can move you.”- Osho
I believe the answers lie in our self-care practices, including The Four Seeds of Self-Care. Along with the four seeds, there are several other useful tools that can help. Here are a few that I love to help cultivate growth, resilience, patience, and self-compassion.
It’s important to question and bring clarity to our deep-seated beliefs because our beliefs influence our thoughts, actions, and ultimately our reality. Journaling can be a great tool to uncover old thought patterns and emotions that need to be expressed. This is one reason that we use journaling in many of our workshops and retreats. In order to overcome obstacles, we must do the work of uncovering beliefs that don’t serve us (or others for that matter) to support a growth mindset, rather than a fixed mindset. Journaling can help us to become more compassionate and patient with ourselves and others.
Meditation and yoga:
Creating a meditation practice can be another useful tool in allowing emotions and thoughts to arise and practicing non-attachment by watching them drift away like a cloud rather than keeping us bogged down. One of the reasons that I love yoga is because it combines exercise with meditation, two of The Four Seeds of Self-Care to help us channel our life force and bring us back into our body. Both meditation and yoga support alignment, stability, and flexibility and activate the parasympathetic nervous system for a calming effect, keeping us grounded and directing our energy upward like the lotus. Taking your time to move into a yoga pose causes your breath to slow down, helping you notice how you feel. Are you stressed, anxious, tight? Again, these practices can be slow going at first, seeming like there is no progress, but as we consistently listen and allow our body and our mind to be where it is we can then release and GROW and rise above the obstacles to create new energy and a vibrant life that blossoms!
Whether you have heard of “grounding” or not, you probably already practice it. You’ve done it since you were a kid! But science is now showing the therapeutic effects of reconnecting with nature, including improving our mental health and boosting our immune system. It involves getting outside and either directly, or indirectly getting in touch with the earth. And we don’t have to wait for a trip to the beach. Those don’t come often enough! This could mean going for a walk barefoot, splashing through a creek, or swimming in a lake. I have definitely noticed more people getting outdoors during these last several months due to COVID19. And this connection goes both ways. Our connection to Mother Earth benefits us by calming our nerves and creating peace and it also reminds us that we must take care of Mother Earth! After all, she provides us with abundant beauty and resources.
We’ve got several events planned over the next few months. I hope that you will join us to learn how you can continue to grow and even THRIVE during uncertain times. Because let’s face it, we have this one precious life to live, and being self-centered is the only way to reach onward and upward!
With love and gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel