Early Sunday morning, I am reading the newspaper and drinking my tea. The house is quiet, Lilly is at a sleepover and Chris is still sleeping. I feel something wet on my hand. I look down. There is a tiny puddle of tea on the paper. I think, "This teacup doesn't leak." I go back to reading. A few minutes later, I feel wetness on my arm. I look down. There is another tiny puddle of tea, next to the first one.
I think, "This teacup doesn't leak." I continue reading.
My refusal to acknowledge that there was, in fact, tea all over my newspaper continued until enough puddles of tea dotted my morning for me to think, "Maybe this teacup does leak." Sure enough, there was a huge crack running down the side of my favorite yellow mug.
"Sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing as reality, an objective and untouched nature of being. Or if all that we encounter has already been changed by what we had imagined it to be." From the novel, Mistress of Spices
Our brains create meaning out of the tremendous sensory input bombarding us every second by creating stories, narratives that
self-select information according to millions of criteria--from our genes to how we were raised to what we have come to believe is true--and our brain place this edited content into a linear sequence of events that we can understand. This is how our brains function--we must make stories to understand and function.
However, as shown by my rather odd little example, our ability to make stories can--and often does--over ride reality, even when it is dripping down one's arm. This fascinates me! How much suffering I cause myself, day after day, because I refuse to accept whatever it is that is happening to me.
"As people who want to live a good, full, unrestricted, adventurous, real kind of life, there is concrete instructions we can follow: see what is. When you catch yourself grasping at beliefs or thoughts [or denying tea at your elbow] just see what is. Without calling your belief right or wrong, acknowledge it. See it clearly without judgement and let it go." Pema Chodron, from Comfortable with Uncertainty
Now this is fantastic, invaluable advice--advice to meditate on a thousand times a day, advice I try to make a part of my every hour. But I'm curious if there is a step I need to take before I can see what is. I mean, why didn't I want to acknowledge the tea staining my paper?
Because it would take time.
For me to slow down long enough to see what is, I first have to hold a self-nurturing belief that says there is enough time to do so. I have to be creating my life on a foundation of self-nurturing so that when I find tea dripping down my arm, I don't automatically--with my body and brain--decide that there isn't time to deal with a broken cup, I have too much to do, this is the only time I have alone all day, I don't want to get up and switch cups, so let's just pretend it's not there. Whenever my stress level goes through the roof, and my self-nurturing disappears, so does my ability to see what is, and so does my ability to create. As the wise and rather wacky Robert Fritz posits, we can only create what we desire when we both know what we
desire AND we can accurately assess reality, where we stand in this moment.
So...this week, try nurturing yourself in ways that help you remember that there is enough space, there is enough time, there is enough energy, to see what is.
I'll be doing the same!
Jennifer Louden is a best-selling author of The Woman's Comfort Book, The Comfort Queen's Guide to Life and three other titles. You can visit her popular website at ComfortQueen.com where over 600 articles about self-care, an interactive Inner Organizer, and a wonderful CQ store await you. Jennifer also works with a few clients at a time as a life coach.