We live in troubled times. Fed stories of fear and separation, caught up in false ideals of success equating to prosperity and ownership, and consuming far, far more than we need or that this Earth can provide us with.
It's a familiar story and one that I am sure we are all familiar with. It usually leads to calls for action, things to do, how we can come in and fix and save and solve these huge problems which loom over humankind. It can result in feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, panic and terror when we fear we are not up to the job of single-handedly save the world.
As someone who worked for charities working furiously to tackle such problems as cancer, poverty, the depletion of our soil (you know, the small stuff) I recognise such feelings of overwhelm. There comes a point when we have to figure out how to deal with the overwhelm: we can switch off and numb out, or we can turn on and tune in.
I listened to an interesting interview today between Charles Eisenstein and Rex Brangwyn (find it here) about masculinity and sexuality and erotic intelligence, and they mentioned at one point moving beyond the hero. And something about that struck a chord. I am writing a book, Rest Is Radical, and as I sit in a beautiful green garden in Cornwall, I am trying to figure out the principles of rest and how you actually do it. And it strikes me that trying to 'do' rest is as irritating as people who say they have 'done' a country: you don't do rest. You receive it.
Doing is something we are already over-doing. How would it be to not do? Do less, to stop, and instead to look around. To sit, to meditate, to consider and discuss. To slow down and need to consume less, and strive less. How would it be to acknowledge that you on your own may not have the answers or solutions? That this is not the time for heroics? That this is not the time to take centre stage and plan how you are going to fix the world/fix yourself/fix other people. How would it be to consider that this is the time to step down from the ego, admit our mistakes, and come together compassionately and collaboratively to find real solutions and to appreciate this may take time and may not meet a financial target or deadline?
I'm not saying I'm right. I am just suggesting we consider a different way of being, and to be requires feeling. If we let ourselves feel the pain of our own lives, of the suffering around us. If we cry and feel sad, if we scream and feel angry, if we feel joyful and alive - if we can begin to learn to feel it becomes almost impossible to NOT make change. Once you can feel the pain and suffering, you have to respond in some way. But you must also feel the love and joy. Because the love and joy is always here, holding us all. It make not be clear by the news in the papers or the complaints of your stressed-out, fearful family and colleagues, but the force of love is the greatest thing. If we've numbed to the anger, numbed to the sadness then we have also numbed to the love and then we will never come up with the right solutions, the right action. We will continue to come from a place of force, and force is kinda what's got us into this problem in the first place.
I definitely don't have the answers, but below I share some ways that could be the most relevant and under-utilised tools that we have right now.
Learning to truly listen to each other allows us to really see each other. It builds respect. It encourages each of us to raise our voices and be heard. It allows us to allow others to succeed and step into their power, rather than trying to steal each other's success and purpose.
2. Valuing your thoughts, feelings and prayers
Don't tell yourself your desires are silly or selfish. Don't criticise yourself or reject the dark parts of yourself. Feel all of your emotions when you feel safe enough to do so. Value the power of prayer and hope and positivity. Don't let yourself be fooled by cynicism and despair. Begin to value your whole being. And start to figure out your values.
3. Learning to receive
Step out of trying to do it all on your own and let go of 'me me me'. Receive compliments, help, and gifts. Everything is a gift. The food on your plate, the breath that you take, the relationships you experience. Saying thank you is one of the best ways to receive and it really can start there.
I'd love to know your thoughts and comments on this; as I say I do not come from an expert viewpoint. I simply offer ideas and thoughts in an effort to live the principles of conscious rest, all of which are a work in progress!