The older I get, the more I enjoy ritual. It helps me to be centered and sets me in balance. My quiet time in the morning is part of my daily ritual and when I don’t get to have that time, it’s easier for me to be off-kilter. It’s like my world is not right if I don’t have at least have five minutes to breathe deeply, greet the day, and check in with my body and my spirit.
Most of the time my morning ritual lasts from 1/2 hour to 1-2 hours. It depends on what is before me as I sit quietly. For the past year, most of my quiet time is spent in reflection because the energy for healing has been present. My insights seem to be coming quicker as is the healing process. There is a lot of buried stuff surfacing in my life right now. Because I long to know the fullness of who I am in my core self, I welcome the issues that are surfacing. I know the face I show the world, but there’s the hidden parts of me that I try not to show and those are the parts I want to see and process.
Seeing my spiritual essence empowers me, and I believe that in order to live from my essence it is expedient that I be with my villagers and make peace with them. What I call villagers are those unhealed, disowned, hidden and unsavory parts of myself, who I pretend are not there, even though they keep clamoring for attention. My most notable villager who has been screaming at the gate to be seen is anger. I’ve made a conscious choice to let my anger in, call it by name, and face it head on. After all, it is a part of my experience. To try to pretend I’m not angry only gives it more power. I understand the universal principle of “what we resist, persists”, so it makes sense to acknowledge what’s there and see how it’s affecting my life. I know I can’t change the past, but I can heal those festering wounds that are still present.
I’ve noticed my buried anger before, but I thought the “spiritual” thing to do would be to just let it go and pretend I’m not pissed deep in my gut. But, playing games of pretend does not keep the anger out. It occupies my space and I carry it with me wherever I go. It’s lurking in the shadows, just waiting for any chance it can get to show up in my reality. Unfortunately, it usually shows up deflected at someone else. When it’s waving it’s hands and saying, “yoo-hoo, look at me and deal with me” and I pretend it’s not there, I wind up getting angry at my husband, or traffic, or someone on a talk show, or my cat. It’s easier to get angry at someone else and justify that anger, than it is to face what’s sitting there waiting to be exposed and healed.
I’ve been angry at lots of little things lately. I’ve also been finding things wrong with my husband so I can have someone to direct my anger towards. One morning last week, I decided enough is enough. As I sat with my anger, I admitted what I already knew. It’s my anger issue, it’s not about Paul or anyone else, and I needed to own it. I acknowledged its presence in my life and while calling it by name, I became aware of how short of breath I was. Looking at this, I remembered how every time I’ve gotten really angry at someone or something, I’ve lost my breath. What a wake up call for me to clearly see how my anger manifests itself in shortness of breath. I also carry anger in my neck and shoulders and the harder I fight to keep the anger at bay, the tighter my neck and shoulders feel.
I know, that when children hear negative comments that serve to diminish who they are, they stop breathing deeply into their abdomen. When threatened and in a fight or flight mode, we learn to take shallow breaths. Over a lifetime of being scrutinized and molded into what others think we should be, we develop a means of moving away from ourselves. Fight or flight breathing is called survival breathing, and taking shallow breaths on a daily basis is how we keep ourselves alienated from our deeper knowledge of who we really are. This is how most of us breathe on a daily basis. Taking shallow breaths causes our brain to be oxygen deprived, which results in our heart rate increasing in an effort to bring adequate oxygen so the brain can function optimally. It is a good practice to take a deep breath every thirty minutes in order to keep our brain oxygenated. To find our way back to our Spirit, and to our center, we must retrain ourselves in how to take deep, conscious breaths. Our life is in our breath, and the deeper we breathe, the more life we have within.
And so I take deep breaths and look clearly at my anger. I feel it in my body and feel the desire to cut it off and run from it. But, I make the conscious choice to stay still and keep breathing deeply. I give it permission to be, and right now I’m observing it and giving it space to heal. I realize that as a child, I covered my anger at my daddy with denial, and I know that I’ve been pissed at him my whole life. I’m also very angry at other family members who could have reached out to me and didn’t. I’m mad that I didn’t have a champion to fight for me, and my needs and rights as a child. I feel like I’m cleaning out my closet as I go deep and shine light in the corners and all the dark places.
Our unhealed issues do not go away on their own. They may take a nap and seem to be gone and when you least expect it, voila. There they are!! Someone cut you off at the light and you fly into a rage. Your brother says “no”, when you thought he should have said “yes”, and you quit talking to him for a month, your spouse doesn’t want to do what you want to do, so you give her/him the cold shoulder for a while. Deflecting anger in the wrong places and at the wrong people does not make life easier. We can only pretend for so long that all is well when we know underneath, that this is not so.
I know for a certainty that it is in my best interest to acknowledge whatever is there, see what area of my body it’s affecting, thank it for being a faithful servant that’s helped me to survive, and give it permission to be on its way. Meanwhile, I hear another villager knocking and I’m making a place to let it in. It’s name is fear and behind it, peeking its head around the corner is shame, and behind it is unworthiness, and so on. I’m learning that it not only takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to hide a child.
My prompts for last week were round, handle, fixate, and stuck.