Getting into trouble: grumpy, life-enhancing work

A life of practice can be grumpy and life-enhancing work. It does not keep us from getting into trouble. Or end our troubles.

It does help us to notice when we are in trouble. Sometimes that noticing slows us down enough to turn directly into the trouble and work with it.

 

Here’s an example of what my friend Carol calls the “grumpy work” of waking up.

My husband Gideon and I had been preparing for a major interior painting and floor-refinishing after 30+ years in our home. This involved months of sorting and packing and discarding and giving away STUFF. This definitely left us each grumpy, and weary, from time to time.

Finally our movers arrived one morning to do a walk-through. We needed to make a more or less final plan for how they would pack up and move our belongings around the house without putting anything into storage. I’ll leave the details of our respective reactions to this whole undertaking to  your imagination. Suffice it to say that Gideon and I each had our own version of overwhelm on display that morning, and didn’t fully appreciate one another’s concerns.

Shortly afterwards I left for a dentist appointment, grumpy and breathing heavily.

I thought to myself: this state of mind is not going to mix well with dental work.

 

On the 40-minute drive I turned directly into what was going on inside of me – a well-worn old program of assuming the whole burden of whatever needed to be done.

I repeated to myself: Take it back in. Take it back in.

Then:  Take responsibility. Take responsibility.

Then: Be responsible. Be responsible.

Then: Sara, rely on your own goodness, which is not personally-owned.

Rely on Gideon’s goodness, which is not personally owned.

Don’t rely on his neuroses.

Or on your own.

Do/be what you can. Trust that Goodness, Godness, Reality has my back, not in any small ego sense.

I am not alone in this.

As I went through this process, I was able to invite in the  thoughts and feelings that were present within me. I was also able to choose which thoughts and feelings I wanted to dominate – not something I can often do.

During each step in this process I was inviting in my limitations. My desire to let myself off the hook. My tendency to see the negative in myself, in Gideon, in the whole situation. My deep belief that whatever is going on in life, I carry the sole burden for figuring it out. For getting it done. Nested with each limitation is some wisdom, some intelligence: responsibility, goodness, the actual availability of help and support.

 

I call this kind of inquiry getting into life-giving, nourishing trouble.

This is not a linguistic or psychological sleight-of hand, not a formula for processing difficulties. No such formula exists. The language came to me fresh and alive in the moment, and it came from turning directly into my discomfort and my limitations.

By the time I arrived at the dentist, I was breathing normally, no longer grumpy.

This was a relief. But I warn you, this practice does not reliably bring relief from suffering. Sometimes it brings us through a kind of false suffering, like self-righteousness, into a place of true or primary suffering: fear for our safety, or a deep unsatisfied yearning to be met by the world.

 

Relief from suffering or no, it brings us to the truth of who we are in the moment. 

That is the true grace and fruit of practice.  It does bring us into relationship with what is going on inside ourselves and in the world.  

You’ll have to decide if it is safe for you to do this while you are behind the wheel.

One! The singular sensation that fuels A Life of Practice

The inner workings of A Life of Practice  

Those of you who have been drawn to this tribe of Good Enough human beings have told me that you appreciate the perspective of A Life of Practice with its focus on becoming not more perfect but more human. Over the past year you have responded especially to posts that offered open-hearted personal stories and models of how to engage with practice in daily moments both challenging and celebratory. I greatly appreciate your traveling with me, and your comments along the way.

What I want to share in a deeper way is the beating heart that fuels me to live A life of practice: Nondual Kabbalistic Healing© (NKH). NKH was developed as a curriculum of healing and awakening by Jinen Jason Shulman. It integrates the wisdom of Buddhism and Advaitic understandings of nonduality with the wisdom of the Kabbalah and the insights of  modern psychology. This is a path towards realizing, for each of us, our unique humanity, and living a life of vital and intimate relationships.

I began to receive healings and then study this work over twenty years ago with a “goal” of becoming more human. If you had asked me what that meant, my answer would have been vague.

 

One! Singular sensation…  (from the Broadway musical, Chorus Line)

Nondual Kabbalistic Healing © is rooted in a practice that underpins all of A Life of Practice. One! that helps me to wrestle with the unending dualities of life. One! that keeps me moving with life, whether or how these dualities get “resolved.”

And that One! is:  a radical practice of Oneness.

 

What do I mean by a radical practice of Oneness?

The central prayer of Jewish worship is known as the Shma: Shma Yisroel HaShem Elokeinu Hashem Echad. I learned this prayer as a kid in Sunday school, where it was translated as: Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.

Another and quite accurate translation is: Listen, you who wrestle with God, Reality is One Thing.

In NKH, we throw everything up against this statement. I mean, everything.

Whatever limitation or wart you want to leave out: include.

Whatever the shadow cast by the brilliant sunbeams of your latest inspiration: include.

Whatever you cannot bear turning away from in disgust: include. Include even your turning-away.

Because all those things we edit out or orphan: they haunt us.

They too want to come in out of the cold.

This is the radical practice of Oneness, the alchemical power of Kabbalistic Healing, and the heart of A Life of Practice.

This Oneness is not prescriptive: how human life should be in some idealized or actualized state, some Golden Age past or future.

This Oneness is descriptive:  true to how life actually is, lived on the ground, in the mind and imagination, in the heart, in the soul.

 

This Indivisible Oneness is a fabric embellished by the moments of our One Life

Some of those moments feel like shining, precious gems, others like bird droppings. Yet all are adornments. One Life. NKH’s radical practice of Oneness invites me to make use of everything I am and experience, a  potent compost that nourishes and sustains a life of practice.

 

Practice is our faithful and trustworthy ally on the journey – because we do still need to journey within the One.

The “journey” is then our gradual, erratic, persistent wandering, awakening to the Presence of God, to Reality, to our own glories and limitations, an integration of our split-off parts, an enlivening of the everything that is right here, right now.

Me and my practice – we keep moving with the movement of life.

And on we dance, awake and awakening, healed and healing.

 

Reflection: 

How are you faring in your “journey”?

What have you accepted?  How have you changed?

What have you brought in from the cold? What remains huddling outside?


Let’s talk about your journey. For a free 30-minute consultation with Sara: https://alifeofpractice.com/contact/

One! Sara guides you though a 3-minute video exercise:  https://alifeofpractice.com/welcome/

A Society of Souls, Jason Shulman’s School of Nondual Healing and Awakening, offers a four year professional training program:  http://www.kabbalah.org

 

 

At the Heart of Healing & Awakening: Honesty & Kindness

Is there anything we want more than to know ourselves and to be comfortable in our own skin? in our own life? to be ourselves? to re-member our wholeness?

Is there anything more difficult than to see ourselves as we are, to see life as it is, to persevere in this exhilarating and terrifying effort?

Most of us have a strong preference, even a habit, of relying on honesty, or falling back on kindness on our healing and awakening journey.  But unless we draw on both, we are likely to get bogged down, off track, or lose heart altogether, running from angry ghosts or chasing after angels.


Honesty without kindness is brutal.
We see our faults and limitations, act as judge and jury. We mete out penalties. Or we simply turn ourselves over to a taskmaster whose job it is to bring us up to snuff, into conformity with some idealized version of ourselves. We cut ourselves no slack. All while knowing we wouldn’t treat our friends this way.

Kindness without honesty leaves us complacent.
We let ourselves off the hook, unable or unwilling to see the trail of unhappiness our behaviors leave behind us. We strand ourselves in fantasy.


The truth of any situation is that we are mixed and mixed up, imperfect human beings.

Honesty roots us deeply into reality. Kindness waters the roots.

As we take the help of both honesty and kindness, we can cease shrinking away, turn directly into our life as it is, look directly into the mirror and see ourselves as the wholeness we already are. This is the heart of healing and awakening. This is the heart of  A Life of Practice

 

Repatriation

by Sara Eisenberg

no upraised arm,
no torch aloft,
no golden door,
no registry,
no frank welcome.
just me standing guard,
close by the only sign of vacancy:
a tent slit flapping in the night wind.

aerialists, beggars,
choosers,
medalists, losers,
the timid and the raging,
creatures graceful, one-eyed, or many-toed:
I might, from grudge or curiosity,
inquire into each one’s country
and allow in a likeness.

when I can bear to name
the Real,
grant it ground
that is not for rent, for sale, for land-grab;
permit it entry without
bath, deodorant, change of clothing;
give up my ragged belongings
and vain efforts to secure them;

then each dark distinction that longs to return
home
is belonging itself.

 


Honesty and kindness guide our inquiry into healing and awakening in every Nondual Kabbalistic Healing session with me.