It’s tough changing my attitude about going to work while feeling ill. In past careers, whenever I felt some virus trying to overtake me, my inner voice would say, “Get to work, lazy butt. You are not that sick!”
Now, working with vulnerable seniors, I must not put them at risk. Not only do I have to remind myself that staying away is an act of consideration, I have also had to learn to say to employees, “No, you must not come to work with those symptoms. Stay home for at least two days.” We then make every attempt to re-schedule ‘make-up’ time for those who lose pay.
Today is Day Two of my staying home.
Having all this precious time is a gift. It means I can wallow in down- time. It means I can practice obedience and discipline; both gateways to freedom if I would just meditate…longer. Instead, I’ve turned on the TV which sits mostly unused. Disappointed over the surf results, I’ve turned it off. I’ve finished books that have been book-marked at various stages of abandonment. I’ve combed my angora cat, Duc, who now thinks he can sleep on my laptop. I’ve simply been a piece of Velcro capturing bits and pieces from my various offerings and musings.
In questioning the richness of my ‘nothingness’ day, I discover there is a thread! There is a theme of broadening my vista. I love the invitation. The image of the broader vista fits the ‘spot’ I choose for my meditations – a broad, endless view much like the mast head of this blog.
Since I don’t keep a list of channels or programs, I did not catch the author of the TV tidbit, but I did catch the message. The motivational speaker was telling the audience to enlarge their tents. We are to make them bigger. We are to strengthen our stakes, lengthen our cords and get those tents billowing until their sides almost burst. We were told that our fear determines the size of our tent and, therefore, our concept of the size of God’s power.
It was affirming a direction I’ve been given primarily through meditation. I am being nudged to broaden my current parameters, to think bigger. That sounds so suspect that I have been very happy to put it aside. I’m not only an older woman, I am an old soul. What would possess me to broaden my life to mega proportions at this stage?
In one of my meditation methods, I am often given a strong sense of what I am to do. Because I know the power of my intellect, I let those ‘senses’ sit on the back burner. I wait. If I am given three instances where the same message is repeated in some form, I have faith that the direction has validity. That verification can come from any source, but it has to come to me. This litmus test was given to me by Linda Kavelin Popov who co-authored “The Virtues Project” and authored other books such as “Sacred Moments”, “A Pace of Grace”, etc. Many thanks, Linda, for your wisdom.
Then, I picked up a book Susan loaned me, “Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World” by Mary Pipher. Through the first section of the book, I wondered what possessed Susan to loan me the book. Mary Pipher is a Psychologist and author of eight books who became so stressed by book tours, speeches and life on the road that she became depressed and desolate. She learned her brain could not fix her brain. She had to learn a new way to heal. I could identify with that concept. With that statement, Mary had my full attention. I terminally intellectualised any problem put in my path – whether mine or anyone else’s. I wanted to see how Mary overcame her brain and intellect. I wanted to measure the progress I’ve made in using the combination of heart, soul AND mind.
How did she do it? She turned to meditation and struggled with her “monkey mind”.
At the end of one of the chapters titled, “Recovery”, she wrote, “Darkness and loss signal to us more clearly than anything else that it is time to expand our point of view.” There it was! And even better, it led directly to the next chapter which was titled “A Bigger Container”. The title bowled me over.
In this next chapter, Mary Pipher, a Buddhist and a behavioural scientist, writes,
“Religions are metaphorical systems that give us bigger containers in which to hold our lives. A spiritual life allows us to move beyond the ego into something more universal. Religious experience carries us outside of clock time into eternal time. We open ourselves into something more complete and beautiful. This bigger vista is perhaps the most magnificent aspect of a religious experience.
“Karl Marx was correct when he said that religion is the opiate of the people. However he was wrong to scoff at this. Religion can give us skills for climbing up onto a ledge above our suffering and looking down at it with a kind and open mind…it is often trauma that turns us toward the sacred, and it is the sacred that saves us.
“The Alcoholics Anonymous movement has long appreciated the need for spiritual help in fighting addictions. Carl Jung wrote Bill Wilson, [co-founder] of AA, about drinking being a low-level search for union with God.”
Before Alcoholics Anonymous, people suffering from alcoholism or addictions had no place to go and no hope of recovery. With heartfelt thanks to Carl Jung, alcoholism was recognized as a spiritual malady and has become treatable. According to the AA literature, alcoholism is never cured, but using the principles and practices of AA, alcoholics (and addicts) can live a spiritual life with quality and dignity in recovery.
In other words, in one page, I’ve been given my second and third validation. And all of these validations brought me back to a spiritual exercise I have recently been given. I was asked to write down all of my beliefs. I was encouraged to just sit and write every one that came to mind…no sorting, just write.
I did that. The list is very long. It includes beliefs as noble as those regarding my spiritual path and those as mundane as how I drive.
Then, I was directed to go over that list of beliefs with as much honesty as I could muster and determine how many are valid. I was warned that I would have to go deep and that cutting through denial is not easy. Turns out it was about as easy as cutting diamonds.
The list is a work in progress, but the discovery was profound. Everything on my list can be put in one of two categories: Legitimate or Blocking.
I’ve got the message. I’ve done my homework. I’ve received three validations. I’m going for a bigger container. It will mean a much larger tent that has to be safely secured by longer cords and stronger stakes. I want it in a spot that has an ever-expanding vista.
And there will be room for your tent, too.