Have you ever experienced life with closed eyes? I recently undergone surgery on my right eye which meant that I had to keep the eye closed with an eye patch for 48-hours. This resulted in two-days of experiencing life with minimal vision as my left eye only has 20% visibility. Before the procedure I became aware of a subtle sense of fear. I knew it had something to do with the eye procedure but I also knew it was not that I was scared about the procedure itself. On deeper reflection I realised I was scared to not be able to rely on sight as a way of engaging with life, work and relationships. In essence I was scared to be vulnerable.
At the end the procedure was a success and I was pleasantly surprised by the richness of living life with closed minimum sight. Reflecting back, I see a pattern that usually the magic waits for me on the other end of fear. However, I need to be willing to face the fear, open myself up to the process and allow it (not my head or eyes in this case) to show me the way, even if it means being vulnerable.
With the opening of both my eyes at dawn of day three, three poem were revealed before my eyes. It was as if it had waited for me to go through the process. I would like to share one of them with you.
What a gift to see the unveiling of the morning, as the protea bush softly changes into yellow-green as the ocean breeze gently sway with the innocent white curtains by the open window.
The dove takes flight from the tree after a good night’s nest The bees eagerly start to work at the openhearted pink flowers by your window The light starts to slowly creep into the room unveiling what have been hidden in the night.
And you meet yourself anew on this day, as you look into the bathroom mirror as you see the eyes that are looking back at you.
There is a familiarity and a knowing that you’ve changed during the night. The face that reflects back at you is not the same as the one you saw in the same mirror the night before.
As the forgiving dawn-light of the morning draws across your unwashed face It unveils the secret of life – you don’t need eyes to see.
– Gretha Cronje
Questions to reflect on: What different way of being can you embody, in your personal and professional life, to enable you to see others and yourself in a new way?
Let it all go. Let it fall. Let it out like a sigh.
First the gratification of being in control by making a plan. The excitement of how things will work out perfectly if everything goes according to plan. Then the rigid trying to keep to the plan and the rules implied by the plan.
As the plan does not play out as ‘planned’ the tension starts to build. The anxiety begins. The hand that wants to control turns into a fist of anger for things not working out as planned. The frustration irritates the body. The mind starts to search frantically for answers to the wrong questions. Why is my plan not working out? Why is this happening to me? If only things will work out according to the plan, then everything will be okay.
Then the idea, let’s be flexible and make another plan. Plan B. Again, the craving to feel in control. So the cycle continues until none of the plans work out and you realise the only option is to let go of the plan/s. Deep within you, you know it is what life is asking of you. Yet, you struggle to open the fingers that are tightly closed around the plan.
When you finally do open your hands, you feel the release. Vulnerability and sadness flows out of your hands like tear drops. You realise the more important question to ask is ‘What will enable me to let go of the plan?’ The answer – knowing you are not in control. You can’t control time. You can’t control nature or the rhythm of life. You can (and must) do your part but then you need to trust in the unfolding of life.
Like a farmer carefully planning for the season. Preparing the ground so that when the rain comes the crop will grow. But after he has done everything that is within his control, the farmer trusts and believes that nature will run its course…
Be patient, trust the process of life. Let go of the plan. Let go of the ‘I’ and the idealised images. Like a teardrop, surrender and go with the flow. Life may surprise you.
If you follow my blog, you already know that I decided to reflect and write about my life. The plan is to unpack every stage, see it from different dimensions, open to the truth, allow myself to live and feel through every aspect, especially the unlived ones. The purpose is to set free, heal, simplify and clear the way. Stephen Levine wrote that ‘Caring enough for our life to enter it, to explore and heal it, even the hard personal truths that burn are beautiful because they are the truth.’
I was very enthusiastic to start and thought that the first few years would be easy to write about. Was I surprised to find out that it was not easy at all! It was extremely hard. I got stuck at my birth! I started to ask myself the following questions (which are always good questions to ask when you start a new project):
What makes this ‘life review’ exercise important to me?
How committed am I to working on this?
What are the internal and external barriers I’m facing?
I became aware of feelings of ‘fear of rejection’ or ‘fear of stigmatisation’ in the back of my mind. My mind wanted to disguise the painful shadows whereas my heart wanted to forgive, be grateful and set it free. While working through the questions I came across the following writings:
‘Each tree grows in two directions at once, into the darkness and out to the light, with as many branches and roots as it needs to embody its wild desires.’ John O’ Donohue.
‘When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending. Owning our stories is standing in our truth. It’s transformative in our personal and professional lives and it’s also critical in our community lives. ‘Brene Brown
We tend to look at other trees and wonder why it is so easy for them to have so many branches when it feels as if we only grow roots. The reason is we only show the world our branches. If we do share, we tend to show a part of the story, a root, and not the whole root structure. That can be misleading. Instead of encouraging others it can be discouraging.
I realised that my roots are just as important as my branches. I also realised that if I want to live out of /in line with my truth (which is my mission in life) I need to be able to stand in my truth (which is my whole story). I need to be courageous enough to show the world (not that the world is reading my blog) my roots. It is my roots that give me the strength to grow and live in the light
Have you ever looked at someone with your whole body instead of just your brain?
I’m not sure if you noticed but we tend to look at others with our brain. We conditionally or unconditionally determine how we see others or the situation. Instead of just allowing ourselves to look at the situation and see if for what it is. Not for how we think it should be or how we want it to be. We make it personal and look at it with a greedy eye, judgemental eye or inferior eye, etc.
A week ago I did a ‘gazing’ exercise with people I’ve never met before. How the exercise works is that for about 5 minutes you sit in pairs and look into each other’s eyes without saying a word. It is not the same as the game kids play when they look at each other and see who is the first to look away. The purpose of this exercise is to learn how to really see each other.
I experienced how one can see others by utilising ones whole body. I saw the fire of courage burning behind their eyes. I sensed how my heart opened as I saw their loving-kindness. I felt their pain in my chest knowing that I can’t fix it but I can hold it for them by seeing it. I experienced a tingling in my hands as I saw the gifts that they bring to the world. I felt my tummy turning with joy as I saw their unmeasured potential. As I saw them I came home to myself. After the ‘gazing’ exercise it felt as if we knew each other. There was no longer a need for words.
John O’Donohue writes about gazing in his book ‘Anam Cara’, ‘to gaze into the face of the other is to gaze into the depth and entirety of their life…when you really gaze at something, you bring it inside you.’ He later continues and states that ‘vision is central to ones presence and creativity. To recognise how you see things can bring you self-knowledge and enable you to glimpse the treasures your life secretly holds’.
I want to encourage you to give yourself the gift of looking lovingly upon yourself. Give others the gift of looking at them with your whole body. Let them be seen. Let them feel seen. You may never see them again.
Rest in the knowing that each gaze is a homecoming to your true nature.
How much do you allow yourself to open up to life? Do you ever allow yourself to experience intimacy within the moment?
Lately I’ve become more aware of how we tend to put conditions on our experiences. We unconditionally put conditions of satisfaction on life. For example, if I can retire without being financially dependent on someone I will be satisfied with my life. Or if we are diagnosed with a disorder, we tend to wonder why is my life so difficult. As if there is a specific way how life should be. Instead of accepting it for what it is we review it based on our pre-set expectations. In doing that we are judging it. This way of thinking can cause a lot of suffering.
In her book ‘Getting our bodies back’, Christene Caldwell writes that
When we relate in an unconditional way to our experience, we become accepting of it. And we can enjoy an open attitude towards it. When I accept my experience I can tolerate its intensity, I can learn from it. I can even find joy in it. In fact, I become nourished and joyful at the process of acceptance, more than at its actual content. It is that act of being with my experience that is satisfying, not the content of what is happening.When I accept myself, love is reborn.
When we judge our experiences we can’t be fully open to what it may offer. We also can’t experience any form of intimacy. Not being able to experience forms of intimacy whether it is with yourself, with God, with the moment or life can lead to various addictions. As humans it is very difficult for us not to judge or label. The brain and Ego like to label and structure things in order to protect us. However, it is possible to learn to let go a bit more. To let go of our ‘conditions of satisfaction’ and to open up to the raw experience of the moment.
The good news is that you can start small. Try to strip yourself from your expectation and open yourself up to a moment each day. It can be a sip of coffee, a hug from a friend, a smile from a stranger, etc. As Caroline Myss said ‘The most meaningful events that have shaped our lives have, by far, been the smallest and most subtle’.