Embodied Transformation & Evolution

Are You All In? Updating your contract with life

Posted by on Feb 20, 2018 in Featured Writing, Lifeletters & Articles | 2 comments

Are You All In? Updating your contract with life

What do I want to stand for?

“Being awake and alive each and every moment: really, really tasting, smelling, touching, life. Being ALL IN.”

This is what a brilliant millennial client of mine wrote down for me a few weeks ago. Every cell in my body resonated with it. This feels to me like the essence of our original contract with life, what the soul signed up for. Before its brilliance and passion and love were compromised, covered and obscured with many layers of conditioning, distracted by false goals, protected by numbness.

Being ‘all in’ means I am saying yes to life as it is. As it is. This is really a radical way of being here. It might feel like a glorious idea, but it’s not something that comes naturally for most of us. Life is wild and chaotic these days on our planet, wherever we are. There are many beautiful, creative and passionate people doing amazing things, in courageous and innovative ways. And there are very challenging events taking place almost every day. I won’t make a frightening list, I’ll just mention one of the most recent events: young people are dying in school shootings in the US right now, at the rate of one shooting a week.

How do we remain all in, when this is going on? I see one way, a path available to all of us: transforming the way we relate to our emotions. Not transforming the feelings, but the way we relate to them. Getting beyond the core belief we live inside of: that there are good and bad emotions. Learning to be friendly toward our own experience, all of the time. Not just when the experience lines up with what we want, what feels good, what we were hoping for.

I am amazed at how often I hear my clients and friends say to me, “I want this feeling to stop,” or “I can’t stand this feeling-it’s too much.” Sometimes I say this too-I am not an expert in this realm. I am afraid of my feelings too, but less and less. If we are holding trauma in our bodies, we do need good help in order to be with our human feelings. But an awful lot of the time we confuse trauma with intensity. And because we have been judging and avoiding many of our feelings whenever they arise, we have no idea how to self-regulate. We have never really practiced staying home in our body and feeling whatever arises. Not alone and not with each other.

It is really unbelievable to me, how afraid most human beings are of their feelings. Which means we are afraid of being human. This is not just a few of us-we are living inside a collective trance that is not easy to wake up from. It’s like learning to swim upstream, against the cultural current, in which we collude with each other all the time about how much better it is to feel only certain feelings. The good ones, the respectable ones, the shiny ones, the fun ones. And have you noticed that there seem to be a whole lot of the ‘nasty’ ones? Pain, disappointment, grief, fear, shame, rage, humiliation, guilt, irritation, terror, anguish, anxiety…It feels like there is a huge long line of them at the back door, wanting to be let in, like refugees waiting for an immigration permit.

This is not a small thing I am talking about-it runs through our whole human culture, a culture dominated by patriarchal values and views. Our dislike of and our judgements about our so-called ‘negative’ feelings create a tremendous amount of suffering. One of the most damaging consequences of marginalizing so many of our feelings is that we remain isolated from real intimacy, lonely and locked up inside ourselves. We are not going to share these feelings with others if we believe they are wrong, and therefore we are wrong for having them. We miss so much intimacy and connection when we cannot share our feelings with each other.

Susan David says it so elegantly right here: Susan David’s Ted Talk

If you want your feelings to go away, if you want to be peaceful and happy all the time, “you have dead people’s goals.” Think about it: only dead people are not disturbed by their feelings. Only dead people do not have to deal with the pain and disappointment of failure, betrayal and loss. As Susan says, “Tough emotions are part of our contract with life.”

If we want to show up, if we want to be fully alive, if we want to give ourselves to life, to participate fully, we need to update our contract with life. Feeling our emotions and not hiding them takes courage. It’s a different sort of courage than climbing a mountain, or hunting a wild animal. I believe it’s a more feminine form of courage, and one we need badly. Our soul asks us to be here, fully rooted in the body and in the earth. Not floating around, wishing we were somewhere else—on a more pleasant planet. And the way we learn to feel the full intensity of the moment is through grounding ourselves. Not through meditation, or sacred texts, or by repeating a mantra. These are powerful practices, but they do not ground us.

Learning to ground is a process. It takes time and dedication. When I was really focusing on it, I often felt like a baby learning to walk. It was not easy for me; I’d been avoiding certain feelings for most of my life. But I wanted to get right back inside my body and find out how to be live an embodied human life. How to bring the light of my soul all the way down here, into this body, this belly, this heart, these feet.

I hope, for the sake of the whales and the forests and the children and the oceans, for the sake of our beautiful luminous souls, and our unimaginable future, that we can make this journey downwards, back home into the body, into the feelings that live in the body, into the simple glorious sanity of the earth.

“For the breath of the true man rose up from his heels, while the breath of the common man rises from their throats.”–Chuang Tzu

with love,
Shayla

 

 

2 Comments

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  1. Nik Beeson

    Thanks Shayla.
    Always so very helpful.

    “The way up is the way down.” – Heraclitus

  2. Sharon Huizinga

    I’d love to hear about your hows in this-

    When I was really focusing on it, I often felt like a baby learning to walk. It was not easy for me; I’d been avoiding certain feelings for most of my life. But I wanted to get right back inside my body and find out how to be live an embodied human life. How to bring the light of my soul all the way down here, into this body, this belly, this heart, these feet

    loving you from Amsterdam

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