Have you ever noticed how the natural world exists and grows without anxiety or worry? I began to notice this last summer, during a time of great anguish and anxiety, and it was a source of great comfort to me. Indeed, I recommend this as a practice if you are feeling anxious or worried about anything in your life. Go outside and spend a few moments witnessing the grass, the flowers, the trees in your neighborhood, growing without anxiety or strife. This is life at its simplest and most beautiful. Growing, becoming, creating, flourishing.
It wasn't until several months later, on a walk through the countryside in the sunshine that a further thought occurred to me: the natural world grows without anxiety or worry, but it does not grow chaotically or randomly; it does so in a patterned, even a structured way. These patterns are evident in two distinct ways: both the shapes that the natural world forms, and the processes that go into creating these forms.
The next time you go outside, take a look at a flower, or a leaf, or even a blade of grass. Each part of the whole, each individual in the collective, adheres to a pattern that has evolved according to, the survival, and the thriving of that particular species. Not only that, but each of these patterns also adheres to a process that brings these patterns into being. A seed drops into the earth, germinates and sprouts, growing roots, and then towards the sun to form stem, leaves, flowers, fruit, and seeds, which find their way into the earth. With the passing of the seasons, life is born, dies, and is reborn. Life fulfills these patterns because these patterns support life.
It can be the same with us, if we allow it to be. There are seasons in our lives when things come into being, when they gestate and take root, when they flower, and when they fruit. There are seasons in our lives when things die away again, and yet each fruiting provides the seeds for the next gestation. The challenge is to let go and trust the pattern, letting each process happen as it will. We have seasons in our lives - springs when life begins, summers of flourishing beauty, autumns of fruiting, and winters of dying away.
And yet, at some point in our evolution, we began to lose our natural way. Our lives became chaotic and unmanageable. Our minds began to take control and with this came worry and anxiety. As a culture, if not as a species, we are no longer living naturally. However, this is not irredeemable. In fact, the natural life is as available to us now as it ever was. We may simply have to 'get out of the way' to allow ourselves to live it.
In his most recent and brilliantly observed book, A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle makes the following claim: The history of humanity is a history of madness. To be human involves a certain type of inherited dysfunction which Eckhart calls ego. Ego is the part of each of us that feels as if it is not good enough, and so judges, blames, inflates, deflates, uses power over, abuses, belittles itself and others as a way of compensating for this sense of smallness. Ego fears non-existence more than anything, and so it clings to the content of our lives in a desperate search for self-hood, for identity. In doing so, ego costs us our freedom and our joy.
What does it mean to 'get out of the way' to allow ourselves to access the natural life that has the potential to return us to a state of joy and harmony? It means to acknowledge the dysfunction we share with the whole of humanity; acknowledge it in us, acknowledge it as universal, accept it, even welcome it, and then realize that it is not who we truly are. Realizing this moves us beyond ego, into what Eckhart Tolle calls 'spacious presence' - the space around all things, infusing all things, the natural space of being and becoming. Here is where our true identity lies.
As we let go of our identification with ego, and move into the natural space of being and becoming, we may begin to experience a form of detox. As we become less tempted to identify and lose ourselves in ego, we become more conscious of old, limiting, toxic thoughts, relationships, and behaviors. These old ways of being start to surface, and they do so, they bring the pain they have caused us and others to the surface as well. This will pass, if we can remain conscious and open. Consciousness is the key to freedom, because in consciousness we have the opportunity to choose healthier, more balanced, natural ways of being. If you embark upon this process, be prepared for massive changes to begin to take place in your life. You might leave a dysfunctional relationship, move to the countryside, change careers, or begin to explore your deepest dreams, suddenly believing they may be possible to achieve. Perhaps old ways of relating that wanted to die away years ago will start to dissipate, making space for new relationships to grow and flourish.
Living naturally means awakening, as if from a dream, into the patterns and processes that make up our lives. It means realizing our own natural abundance, and celebrating that. It means allowing ourselves to experience an emptying out of our lives, allowing things to flow out of our lives with absolute trust that the next 'springtime' will bring about a blossoming of something new that will fill our lives again. And it means, above all, trusting in the innate wisdom of our being, that we might move from anxious ego-mind into a natural space of process with grace and acceptance of all that arises from that space.
Heather Mullin is facilitator, administrator and lead bodyworker with Karuna Detox Retreats, the UK's first holistic detox program. She is passionate about health and well-being, joyful living, and creating reflective spaces for people to realize their potential.
Learn more about detoxification and weight loss on a Karuna Detox Retreat. See http://www.karunadetox.com or phone 0800 112 3033 for details.
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