With the return of my son’s cancer, I have had lots of opportunities to be with fear and despair. Sharing this journey with my son has taken me to a deeper level of presence than I have ever known.
My body has been a very dear friend throughout this fierce process, especially my belly and my breath. Whenever I am caught in the fear-based mind, sometimes all I can do is soften my belly and allow a deeper breath. The belly is one of the best biofeedback mechanisms we have. If it is tight, we are up in our heads. But if the belly is soft, we are down in our hearts. When I pull my attention out of the struggling self, I begin to notice that there is something else going on here besides the story. Sometimes I go right back into it because it is so intense, but then I come back to this centered, grounded place, and when I am in this place, I am able to support my son in the best way I can as he begins to open his own heart to his struggling self.
Even before my son’s cancer returned, I have been more in love with this struggling self than I ever have been. I have come to deeply let my struggling mind know that I respect it. It is not bad or wrong for how scared it is or for how much it struggles. I used to call my fear-based mind different names, but now I just call her “Little One” because she was, like for most of us, created before I was six.
A friend of mine sent me an email recently and it was exactly what I needed to hear. It contains an inspirational quote by Jeff Foster, author of The Deepest Acceptance. Jeff is an amazing writer and has a deeply aware heart:
“Allow your heart to softly break today, if it must. There is a greater pain than a broken heart: a closed heart, a resistant heart, a heart unwilling to feel into the depths of every feeling, positive or negative; a heart numb to life. Allow waves of sorrow, grief, fear, even anger to move through you. These are all your children, and they are all alive, and all worthy of respect. Be the space: the container, not the contained.
No matter how chaotic the world seems, no matter how completely old certainties shatter, the invitation remains: Slow down. Breathe. Re-contact the ground. This moment. These sensations dancing in this body. This breath. Come out of the mind-made drama of fear and anticipation, judgment and blame, regret and retribution, and feel the sacredness where you are. Make a new beginning. Commit to the ground of love.
See outer chaos as an invitation to inner slowness. In the vastness of sky, there is enough room for the occasional storm. A hard heart shatters easily. A soft heart can expand to infinity, making room for an entire cosmos.”
Jeff is telling us that whatever we are resisting belongs here, and when we open our hearts, we can touch all of it with kindness. All of our resistant parts are “our children” and they are “all worthy of respect.”
As we learn to touch every single part of ourselves with kindness, especially the parts we don’t like, we can discover how to let them all back into our hearts. Jeff’s words are a beautiful reminder to make space for what is going on inside of us. And if we can’t do that, make space for the impossibility of making space around what has been stirred up inside. It is about stepping out of time, stepping out of the time-based mind that is usually off into the future, so we can relax into what is really happening here. When we slow down enough to show up for what is showing up, great healing happens, even when we are going through the greatest challenges of our lives.
The next time you are caught in struggle and fear, “Slow down. Breathe. Re-contact the ground. This moment. These sensations dancing in this body. This breath.” Take a deep breath and settle into your soft belly. How does this make you feel?
Heart Image by Tara-jenelle Walsch