Filling the void
“Most people in the West belong to a popular cult of individualism and materialism where the pursuit of our trivial, petty desires is a daily ritual”.
~ Russell Brand. Recovery: Freedom from our Addictions
I put down his book and reflected. Shit! I am one of those people. I am someone who on a daily basis will pursue my desires. What’s the harm? If I feel like a little chocolate, no harm?! If I love those Yoga Pants, I can claim on tax! If I am out on the town, and I want a drink or 10, so what?
So what?! Almost like an inner rebel that tells me I can do what I like, when I like as that is the freedom that is mine to explore. I am not hurting anyone, but myself……….
I was recently in Bali for Body Module Training with Tara Judelle and Scott Lyons. The module was a two week exploration of becoming embodied in our bodies, not just the perception of our bodies, the image I see staring back at me in the mirror, but to really feel in to the multiple systems of the body, and sense, feel, move, sound out it’s feelings and expressions. Sounds easy? Maybe. Yet try getting into your bones and then moving through free movement from the intelligence of your bones. Or even your organs. Move in a way that is an expression of your kidneys, your lungs, your heart. It is challenging, because the mind and it’s perceptions of who I am continually rise up to analyse or maybe compare my experience to someone else in the room. As soon as I move upstairs into the mind, I cannot reach the intelligence of my body.
On return from this training, I became aware of parts of myself that I had forgotten about. Stories that seemed to exist in my body of their own awareness, and the author, me, had forgotten what had been written, but was still living life from outdated experiences. Something I teach daily, yet to truely embody it at a personal level, was still revealing to be a challenge.
I meet up with a friend for lunch, and shared my experiences of Embodied Practices. I reflected how behaviours that seemed so natural and normal to me, now stood out as warnings that I was reaching for easy gratification, which was allowing me to bypass feelings of discomfort. Reaching for external validations, experiences, objects to cope with the quite anxiety of uncertainty. Why is it we seem to be so programmed to live a life that is only filled with happiness? Why is their no commercial on TV that validates the experience of discomfort, confirms that it is a normal part of life, and there is nothing we need to consume or do that will ‘fix’ the uncomfortable feelings, but instead, to ride the wave until it passes.
There is a saying in Buddhism called the Hungry Ghost; the experience of nothing ever being enough. Nothing ever able to feel the emptiness that we sense when we become still. The great void. Each of us have different ways of filling the emptiness. Relationships, addictions, food, wealth, power, social media fame, work, even yoga. Yes, even yoga can fall into the experience of it being used rather then it being an experience to turn us inward. I know of many people that become highly anxious or agitated if they don’t get their daily yoga ‘fix’.
So how does one reach this experience of enough? In Sanskrit called Santosha, or contentment. The feeling that what I have in the here and now is enough. That doesn’t mean I sit around all day and do nothing. Instead, it moves me into a balanced experience of myself where I can ride the variety of experiences that are coming and going without reaching for a ‘fix’.
Be a lamp unto yourself. Find the light within.
I sometimes feel really frustrated with the ‘spiritual’ community in a way that some things take time to heal, rather then solve. As powerful as affirmations are, when we have deep wounds that we refuse to acknowledge, this first must be brought to the light before we can move into feelings of love and connection. When we have deep wounds, that are so engrained within us, yet we don’t take the time to unpack the experiences that have left us hurting, then we move through life seeking pleasure, as a way of coping with what we do not allow ourselves to feel. We seek things that fill the void, yet are disappointed when the Hungry Ghosts reappear and we have to search for something else to distract ourselves away from this horrible experience of feeling all parts of ourselves.
I did my first yoga 200hr Teacher Training in 2001, and taught my first class in 2005. In between this time, I considered myself an avid spiritual seeker. Reading. Doing workshops. 1000’s of hours in Yoga Trainings. A Diploma in Counselling. So I was surprised to come to a point in my life where I had to acknowledge that there was still some deep healing that I needed to allow myself to experience. I had become trapped in the world of instant gratification, where I thought if I did a meditation on releasing sadness, then this would indeed release the sadness. But healing decides it’s own time frame. And I decide how willing I am, each day, to address my inner unmet needs, or to find a quick fix so I can get on with being happy and joyful like everyone else…..
Those quick fixes. They seem so innocent, but when they begin to blend into a daily habit, that we couldn’t image our day or week without them, we know we have been sucked in. Addiction is a strong word. We identify it with drugs and alcohol. But there is something within all of us, that when we hit a slump, or we feel a little down, we reach for an external gratification rather then sitting with the essence of the emotion and feeling into ‘what’s up’.
Recently I have been doing work with the www.innatewisdomconnections.com.au and feel like I have found a tribe that holds sacred space for this experience of feeling our feelings. The feelings that feel to powerful, or overwhelm us, or are two painful to admit that that is how we really feel. Doing this work, the emotion of Shame made a visit. The Shame in just admitting to myself I felt how I felt. Part of the work is to take responsibility for how we feel. As we acknowledge these deep, hidden wells of feelings, we will come across people who have hurt us, whether purposefully or without their knowledge. The experience of feeling what we feel isn’t to make someone else accountable, regardless of what event took place, but instead to feel into the deep vulnerability of being a human, of being in a life that we can’t fully control, and of having experiences that leave their mark. This has been a powerful step for me to be able to not only feel my emotions fully, but to understand that they have energy. This energy can either be used to suppress the feeling, or it can be harnessed to move into the world with wholeness of who I am, in many different levels. It can allow me to move beyond the feeling of Shame, shame of not being a ‘perfect’ human, and instead to utilise everything as turning points towards a fuller version of myself, sitting within authenticity.
A useful meditation for those times when your feelings and emotions overwhelm you, is to soften and surrender to what is unfolding. Rather then to fight, or seek out something that will give you a ‘fix’, pausing and becoming still can lead you deeper to the source of where you may be struggling.
This 10min Surrender Meditation on my website is a great tool for those moments. Although your day may be full with commitments, our ability to really pause and reflect on what has unfolded for us each day, can offer powerful insights and assist us in making changes or adjustments in our life that can bring us closer to an experience of Santosha or Contentment.
Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
~ Lao Tzu