I have had a plaque on my fireplace for a long time by artist Kelly Rae Roberts which says, “Kindness Changes Everything”. A friend of mine recently sent me another one of Kelly Rae’s inspirational quotes, “Embrace the imperfections, the chaos, the HOLY MESS of your BEAUTIFUL life”. I love both of these sayings because they are all about the heart. While most people try to get rid of the uncomfortable stuff in their lives, true healing is about allowing our imperfections and chaos to float into our hearts. How do we do this? By embracing it all with kindness.
Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist, was one of the first people who said a human being is a community. Within this community, we have parts that we like, and then we have the parts we don’t like. The parts we don’t like I call spells, such as fear, despair, anger, sadness, and grief. And in our community, the unlikable parts are at war with one another or we are at war with them. We try to hold onto the parts we think are okay, and push away the parts we don’t like. And this is true suffering. Let’s say you don’t like a body part, such as your thumb. Maybe you don’t like the size or shape of your thumb. Would cutting it off make you happier? Of course not, and you certainly would be able to do a lot less. This is what we do in life. We cut this out and that out, trying to get to a better state, but it is an endless game.
True healing is about turning toward and making space for whatever is showing up in our lives. It is about befriending, keeping company with, allowing, honoring, respecting, acknowledging, and developing a relationship with all of these parts we don’t like or what Kelly Rae calls “the holy mess.” It is about noticing what is here right now when the mind goes into its struggle mode and tightens our bodies.
When this happens to me, I touch it with my heart by first asking, “Okay, what is it that you don’t want to explore in this moment?” and then I say to the scared one inside of me, “Oh this is what life is offering. This is what is passing through right now. No need to push it away, you belong here.”
I have a new mantra that helps me bring kindness into my heart, “Striving…Arriving.” I say “Striving” on the in-breath and then on a long, slow, out-breath, I say “Arriving.” Striving is the mind that is busy liking, disliking, and turning life into a problem. It has spent its whole life trying to manage this and that, and it is always fixing, changing, or rearranging everything it doesn’t like. I don’t judge this busy mind or try to make it bad or wrong for striving because this is what it learned to do when it was very young. We have given our minds a task that it was never meant to do, and that is, being in charge of life. But, the mind is not in charge. Life is in charge of Life and what it is offering is trustable (but not always likable). Most people don’t truly experience Life because they are too busy trying to control it.
The second part of the mantra, “Arriving,” is about being open to life. Arriving is what we long for. How do we arrive? By getting to know the fear-based mind and by showing it kindness and compassion. My practice of “Arriving” is about acknowledging the waves of sadness, grief, pain and anger that are passing through. I do this by talking to my scared one, or rubbing my heart, or just acknowledging that my scared one is here by saying, “I see you.” By giving her the attention and love she so desperately needs, I have fallen more in love with this crazy, neurotic, easily-overwhelmed, separate mess of a self than I ever have been. When I touch her with my heart, she just lets go and relaxes back into life.
What would happen if, when your mind gets activated and your body is tight, you really knew that it is safe to let go into the process? The next time you feel this way, make some time to become quiet and start to get to know your sacred mess, your beautiful mess, your holy mess. Do it all with kindness. Then, let go and let life. Notice how you feel afterward.
Image by Artist Kelly Rae Roberts