That peace, that joy that we all search for, crave. It is always there, in our hearts, waiting for us. Personally I access it when I am out in nature, or through gratitude. Some days it's harder to access than others of course. But most days, despite what is going on around me, and within me, I can remember its presence.
To say that life is a rollercoaster is quite an understatement. This month has been no different, especially with 3 teenage girls in the house! We cycle through many ups and downs...every day. Sometimes every hour! But what has always surprised me has been my girls' resilience and overall steady calm, despite whatever drama has taken place. They always—and often very quickly—settle back into a place of ease, or equilibrium, while I'm often left rattled in the corner!
I truly think they have, for the most part, had permission all their lives to express and move through their feelings—all of them. I, on the other hand, have spent most of my life measuring and modeling my self, my feelings and my pain, through the lens of the "acceptable, nice girl" filter.
Take my headaches for instance. For some reason, or perhaps many reasons that I am not aware of, I have found myself slipping back into almost daily headaches over the last couple of months. A frequency of which I have experienced a great deal of my life, but haven’t had for the last 5 or 6 years. I usually ignore them and try to suppress them. Well at least I used to!
The question is, or rather the question was, why have they returned? Well, when I asked my heart, she said, “So you can see how you have grown.” And so I put that thought in the back of my mind and allowed it to percolate.
Late last night, my oldest was awakened with acute stomach pain. She never wakes me up so I knew it was bad. She was exhausted and desperate and panicky. I pulled out all my herbal and homeopathic ally’s, made her some Chamomile tea, filled a hot water bottle and sat with her.
I know the medicine helped but I also know that the words that flowed from my heart to support her, were the true medicine. And they were words that were meant for me too.
When I talk about pain I am referring to all types of pain—physical, emotional and mental. We often view our pain as weakness, brokenness, most certainly an enemy. Something we have to fight, do battle with and suffer through.
I know this has been my story for a long, long time. Even though I deeply understand that my pain is my body’s way of communicating with me, telling me something is out of alignment and needs my attention. But somehow it is still so easy to slip into self-pity and victimhood. Especially with our 24/7 culture of perfectionism and productivity—there simply is no time for pain.
So while I was sitting with my daughter, I became aware of a shift in my understanding, and then the articulation of the words that flowed sealed that understanding in my heart and mind. And I knew it was Chamomile speaking.
I described to her how to ride the wave of pain, how to flow with it, rather than fight against it. Like a woman in childbirth instinctively knows how to do, that is, if fear and disempowerment haven't stripped away her inherent trust in her body. And I became aware of how now, when a headache comes on, most of the time I can move into acceptance and flow so much more easily.
I asked my daughter to become aware of the vast and peaceful depth of her being, like the vast and peaceful ocean beneath the turbulent waves of the surface. That is was always there. That it could be accessed whenever she needed it, by bringing it into her awareness, through breath.
And as her breathing deepened, slowed, quietened, I could feel her body relax. I could feel the grip of her panic and her pain lessen.
“Life is a steady stream of moving parts,” Chamomile said. “There’s bound to be pain, friction, collisions and blockages along with the constant flow. The reality of your experience really is your choice.”
Of course! Suffering is a choice. Pain however, is not.
And I am continually surprised (but not really) at the depth of my own personal acceptance of suffering or rather my willingness to suffer. For example, my stubborn mindset that I must treat my body naturally, combined with a distrust of the allopathic, commercialized medical system, that has led me to avoid the supplemental estrogen patch that just may provide the headache relief I need. It just may alleviate my suffering so that I can be fully present in my day...in my life...
Chamomile piped up, “This too shall pass.” And I know she is right.
I touched the new patch on my left hip, and allowed feelings of surrender, forgiveness and hope, to wash over me. There is so much about the journey of life, about my body, about my soul, that I don’t know or understand. But I do know that stable, calm place within. That peaceful place that is always there whatever challenges I am facing in my everyday reality. And I am grateful that I know how to access it.
My daughter’s pain subsided and she fell asleep. I headed back to bed, and as I drifted off to sleep, Chamomile’s words, like gentle waves, were a steady reassuring mantra on repeat in my head.
"This too shall pass."
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I know that whatever happens in my life I can roll with it all. I can feel and embrace the joy and the pain because I know they are not separate, or opposite, but are instead the two wings of the same bird, lifting me up and carrying me along.