Trust Thyself (even though sometimes thou fallest asleep during thy meditations)
Last weekend, I attended my first day-long meditation retreat. We’d done several sits, heard several talks, taken several breaks. But then came the retreat leader’s question,
Who would you be if you stopped believing there was something wrong with you?
The question smacked me in my head like a wet washcloth of realty. My eyes watered almost instantly. Watering turned into breaking open and I was a weepy puddle.
So far at this retreat, I’d been pretty distracted; I’d thought a ton about a conversation I’d had the previous day and what I was going to do after the retreat. I wondered if I’d packed enough warm layers and wished I’d hadn’t unpacked high heels for a party I was going to later. I zeroed in on the belief that I’d started my period as I sat there, which felt decidedly not Zen. At one point, during a loving kindness meditation, I woke myself up snoring. But that one question just got me.
The existential washcloth that got my attention was soaked with “big” and “small” stuff. Like the big Life Stuff questions that plague me: How do you really know you’re being a good mom? What does the future hold? How much should I try to control outcomes, and how much do I leave to the Universe? And the small stuff that hit was the crap that teases my day to day like an eyelash in your eye that you can’t get out: Why do I get wrapped up in schedules and my routine so dang much? How does my to-do list grow instead of shrink, and should I care? Should cut back on how many evenings I have red wine promptly at 5:00? (Ok, paired with Annie’s Cheddar Cheese Bunnies. Promptly. At. 5. P.M. Game changer.)
I’ve always thought of myself as a confident person. I was raised by parents who gave me a lot of love and told me to believe in myself. I never had that experience of hating middle school and I don’t remember her being bullied or teased in ways that my spirit could not handle, like many of my friends experienced. (Let’s be crystal clear: I’m not saying I shouldn’t have avoided scrutiny: I was long and gawky and full of braces for an eternity and had feet that should have technically allowed me to ski through the 7th grade hallways. I’m just saying, I felt protected somehow.) But at the same time, as adulthood and parenthood and marriage and children and change has taught me, I may not have quite as much confidence as I’ve always thought. As much as confidence is an unfailing belief in ourselves, I think it also has to do with trust. Not trusting others, as we almost always attribute trust, but a trust in the Self. I capitalize Self very intentionally, to command the respect that we don’t often give it.
If I look at my trust relationship with mySelf through that lens, one of confidence and belief in who I am, I can see things very differently. I can allow more easily for faults and doubts and fears because they can work their way through. Sift through. Trusting the Self doesn’t mean letting it get by with whatever and flap willy-nilly in the breeze (that just blows more eyelashes into my eyes, if you will.) But trust allows for the cracks to emerge in the story I’ve narrated about myself. It allows me to mess up, but it also allows me to heal. It allows for my reality. As Leonard Cohen says, “that’s how the light gets in.” When I’m negating the lens of trust in mySelf (whether I’m questioning my Mom Powers, or obsessing over whether I should’ve said what I said, or if I really should’ve gone to yoga that hour I could have been working…or working that hour I could’ve gone to yoga) — that is reflecting a lack of trust in myself. In fact, it’s shame about my decisions. In other words, something must be wrong with me.
The weird thing about imposing that kind of pressure and blame upon ourselves is the inherently self-inflicted apart. Why would because ourselves that kind of pain? Are we protecting ourselves? If so, from what – ourselves or others?
Y’all feel me, right? It’s that cycle you get in that makes you feel like you just bought a one-way ticket to Crazy Town, and you can feel it in your chest and your brow and your freakin’ spirit, and you have major buyers remorse on buying that one-way ticket and you just want to go back home. And here’s the good news is — and I say this with a learner’s heart, since I fall asleep during loving kindness meditations and think about doing laundry during the awake parts of my prayer and crave children’s snack food with wine circa 5 pm — the good news, I think, is that the home we want to return to is right here. Not at the meditation retreat or the yoga class or church or when we feel good about ourselves, when “we’re better.” It’s here, all the time, waiting for us to settle in. And it’s not separate or wrong. There’s nothing wrong with home.