There are times when waking up in the morning feels difficult. There are times when an open heart feels like flying. There are times when we feel suffocated by disappointment. For all that's under the sun there is a time.
The practice of Loving What Is has become a cornerstone of my life. And it is just that, a practice. It's not easy to love the shadows of life. It's not easy to love the pain of heartache or sorrow of loss. And by love, I don't mean that it's light, or feels good, or that I like it. This isn't the kind of practice that is about pasting over darkness with positivity. This kind of love is rooted in deep acceptance of all of life.
To me, Loving What Is means that I know, deep in my heart, that all is and will always be ok. That every feeling, thought and emotion is temporary. That my response to whatever is happening is my choice, and that my response will affect my experience of the situation and the unfolding of my reality. It means that I recognize and acknowledge that all of the feelings and experiences, all of the flavors and colors of life count, and that it is the range and contrast of life that makes it beautiful.
Loving What Is means that I practice releasing the illusion of safety and control, and trusting that life is actually just as it should be. It means reminding myself that just because it hurts, or just because I can't see how this challenge will serve me in this moment, doesn't mean that it won't. It means I must remember to let go of the attachments I've held to certain outcomes and actively expand my capacity to see the possibilities beyond my current perception of the situation.
For me this practice usually requires at least a few of the following components:
1. Slowing Down // This is important for me because if I don't slow down I will easily bypass my true feelings with busyness or distraction. Though convenient at first, that avoidance of feeling will ultimately this always come back around to bite me in the ass later.
2. Alone Time // To truly feel the discomfort of whatever it is I'm going through I first have to connect with myself. When I'm feeling pain or sadness it can be easy to avoid my own inner world. It's critical that I take time to go inside and be present with myself.
3. Stillness and Silence // Removing all distractions is uncomfortable but definitely speeds up my process. The sooner I can be with whatever it is that's challenging me, the sooner I can accept and move through it.
4. Breathing // Breath is truly magic. Even just a few slow diaphragmatic belly breaths can calm the mind and nervous system significantly. Shifting out of physiological and emotional stress and anxiety creates an environment for healing, relaxation and peace.
5. Moving and Stretching // I personally hold stress, emotion and tension in my body, and I know I'm not the only one. Some simple rotations of the arms and stretches through the hips, a walk or some dancing will circulate blood and energy to help move through difficult experiences and flow into acceptance and understanding.
6. Meditation // A simple meditation helps to clear and reset my system. I use guided or silent meditation to step out of my thoughts and into an expanded, birds eye view of myself and all that is. In meditation I will visualize myself expanding beyond this time, this feeling, this circumstance. Or I will imagine myself in the sky looking down on my city, my house, my room, my body. I will feel the possibilities beyond my current knowledge by opening up to the vastness of the world, the universe, the unknown.
7. Self Care // It is in times of darkness, contraction, challenge or stress that we most need to love and care for ourselves. By doing what I know feels good to my body I'm taking responsibility for my own self soothing and I can minimize rather than exacerbate discomfort. For me this includes eating well, staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, taking a bath, writing or playing music and connecting with people I love.
8. Gratitude // This is the most important component of Loving What Is. When things get difficult or scary, the most impactful thing I can do is return to gratitude. This means that I sink into the humble feeling of appreciation for all of the large and small aspects of life that feel good or supportive, peaceful, soft, exciting, sweet, comfortable, beautiful, and loving to me.