Living Deeply into our Lives

Mar 14, 2011

I don’t need to tell you that our lives today are crazy with busyness: we have to-do lists that are endless and jobs that we carry with us through pda’s and i-pads on the weekends and even on vacations. Even stay-at-home parents feel pressured into taking on more and more activities for their kids, so they experience the same kind of busyness. There is no real way to get a break from it all.

I have read that all the busyness in the ocean–the waves and the choppiness and the whitecaps,[except for a tsunami] takes place in the top 15 feet of the ocean. Below that[the average depth of the ocean is 2.65 miles[1]] there are these long slow currents. If we apply this metaphor to our lives today, we could say that there is all the busyness on the surface, but underneath in our own depths there are the longer arcs of our lives: marriage, parenting, soul work, career arcs, interests, arcs of purpose and meaning and our whole created selves.

If we identify with the surface busyness, we’ll feel buffeted by the things coming at us—demands, information, expectations, etc.—and feel no relief. At the surface of our lives we feel anxious, fearful even, and out of control. If we identify with the deeper levels of our lives, we will feel calmer and more capable, more in charge or our lives, and still able to do what needs to be done.

There is a still point within each of us. The more we tap into that still point, and especially if we access it on a daily basis, the calmer, more peaceful, less anxious, more loving and more focused we will feel. Having a daily practice of silence, just resting in God’s arms as in Centering Prayer, or meditating, creates over time a container within that can hold whatever happens in our lives with more equanimity. It’s not that there is no suffering or pain, no deadlines or challenges, but the container helps us hold the problems and the suffering and the solutions without getting so emotionally hooked into the unfairness, or the anger that we have to endure “this,” or whatever emotion that is evoked in us by the surface problems.

Identifying with the still point, connecting deeply to God, allows us to step back from what is happening and see it more clearly. We can ask helpful questions: Do I have some responsibility here or does this belong to someone else? Then we only take on what is ours. We can see the emotions happening in us, but not so engaged with them.  We can say “there is fear here,” but not “I am afraid.” We are less identified with what is happening and more identified at the still point where we won’t be so buffeted by any changes. We can also engage with God in solutions through prayer and intention. We can stay present with what is happening rather than be so overwhelmed that we want to run away from life.

Living more deeply into our lives brings a satisfaction that is never met by having more and more money and more and better things. There is no substitute for aligning ourselves with the whole of our created selves and our purpose and meaning.

[1], website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The deepest part of the ocean at 6.86 miles deep, the Challenger Deep lies at the south end of the Mariana Trench in the W. Pacific, southwest of the island of Guam

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