Sunday, February 8

Reflections on Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service at Day 165 (posted a bit late due to the flu!)

I am overdue on this but at least only a couple of days and if you've been reading, you'll know I've been sick. I have been thinking a lot about this post.

There is something coming up that I just find hard to describe and it has taken the last few reflections to begin to uncover. Someone posted on Facebook a meme that said something to the effect that 'Life is too short to let anyone suck the happiness out of you.' I found that interesting.

Last week, just before I fell ill, I had lunch with a long time friend, and she suggested that I really need to make this time count towards doing what makes me happy. If this posting has become a burden, I should stop - and from what she could see - my falling behind was indicating that it had become a burden. It isn't like me to just make a laundry list and so...if I haven't got the half hour-hour a day to sit down and write this, then stop. Now needs to be about getting well.

Sound advice. But...why had writing about happiness, love, joy, communion and service become a burden?

Is it the service aspect? Well, no...it is natural to me to be of service...at least since I found yoga and became a Minister. I take that for granted, perhaps...and perhaps I feel I should be doing more. I have done a lot more in my life...but at the moment, my service is in the small things...a smile to a stranger...reminding someone on the tube that their bag is open...talking to an old person...thanking those who nobody thanks. I think that in some ways, these are the most important things to write about because many people find the idea of solving climate change, world poverty, trafficking, etc to be so overwhelming they give up before they start.

I understand that.

Had it not been for the encouragement of a friend in New York City (Donna), I would maybe not have tried to make a difference in the lives of the women and girls of Podanur. When I left the charity it sort of deteriorated but I learned a lot about the problems of planning for (I'm having a moment of losing my words...) Succession!! (there, I found it!!)

So...it isn't service that is a burden. I let this ruminate...why was joy becoming a burden.... And it struck me...it isn't a burden...I just wasn't feeling it. In the words of that meme...I had allowed someone to suck the happiness out of me.

When I look at it, I can hardly believe it. But we all do it. We all like to think we are above being impacted by the good or bad opinion of others. We all want to believe we've moved beyond the playground. But we never move beyond the playground. We all want to be liked. Rather, I should say, the ego wants to be liked. And when we feel we aren't liked...when we feel rejected...we can fall into a dangerous cycle of doubting ourselves and wondering if maybe 'they' are right.

I'm not so aware of having slid into this but I think I have. The ego has seized upon falling into disfavour with someone with whom I had some sort of...attachment...and I think it has been infecting my mind with a whole lot of 'what's the point' fleeting thoughts. I didn't notice it until one day when I tried to start planning my next career steps and looked for what courses I could do to finish my sustainable development certificate and where I could find centres of excellence on water in Canada. I did a quick google search and spent an hour or so at it and got defeated. I took note at that point of how quickly I had turned to a 'what's the point?' mindset and decided to leave it alone until I felt stronger - maybe after the jet lag had passed.....

But perhaps there is something in that.

I started observing myself this past week. I have been sick, that is true, but even the prior week, I seemed to have lost some motivation. I even said that I either needed to get back to writing or get back to working. That seemed a pretty big statement and so I decided to observe myself writing. Again...I wrote 4 pages and felt...'what's the point?' This is not the mindset of someone drenched in gratitude, joy and oneness (leaving service aside for a moment).

So...I wondered...what happened? I really wasn't feeling much joy, anymore. Oh yes...there are moments....like when natural beauty presents itself and I am able to get a photograph that takes my own breath away. But, in London that is rare. And, before, I felt joy even just feeling the sun on my face or sipping on hot coffee in the cold air.

So what happened to that girl? Someone rejected her, rejected her writing on this practice, rejected her spiritual and writerly self...and it was someone to whom she gave a lot of credit. Silly silly girl.

I forgive myself for that faux pas. We often give a lot of credit where credit is not deserved. We give other people the power to make us feel good or feel bad about ourselves. Who are these people anyway? This isn't a breakup but I like to use the same phrase I use when I'm suffering from the attachment that a breakup brings...I remind myself: I have lived Xty years (21, surely!) without this person in my life and I've been fine. I will live another Xty years and I'll be even better without them.

If someone doesn't appreciate us, if someone can't accept something so fundamental to us as our spiritual selves and our expression of that self...well...then that person doesn't groove with us and we shouldn't question ourselves as a result. I don't groove with Neo-Nazis but I don't see themselves worrying about that ;)

I am pretty confident...and yet...it got to me. I think it got to me because this person didn't wholeheartedly reject me...only a part of me. That left room for confusion. That left room to wonder why. That left room for me to question myself. Sure...maybe I was too forthright or outspoken and maybe that wasn't appreciated. But, I would have appreciated honest dialogue on that. A confusing push-pull interaction is a hook for many of us. And trust me, brothers and sisters...all the while we remain hooked in someone else's game of push-pull, we lose our equanimity and happiness as we spend our energy focusing on trying to figure out a confusing interaction, rather than getting on with living and loving life.

I understand that people who engage in push-pull interactions are, themselves, conflicted and deserve compassion. I have compassion for the person, and I wish that things had been different, and it makes me sad. I acknowledge that and its healthy to grieve wishes that can't come true. If we don't, we will hold on to those wishes in unhealthy ways and they will colour our interactions in future as well.

When we encounter a push-pull relationship, it makes us feel crazy. It sucks our energy and it makes us question ourselves. The thing is, though, it has nothing to do with us. In fact, the more loving and kind we are, the worse a person with the need for push-pull will behave towards us.  Maybe they are afraid we will abandon them when we really know them and so they push us away because they can't tolerate love. And then they pull us back, maybe because they are so empty inside, they need other people's affection. It is a confusing dynamic because it feels like it is something to do with us. It isn't about us.

We ought not to condemn them for this, but also not allow it.  They are to be given our compassion....but also...without abandoning them...we must practice our own detachment. It isn't easy. But it does strike me as someone one on a spiritual path must learn...how to love with detachment.

Our spiritual path will always throw up what we need to heal.

See you at day 180. xx

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