Persistent helps us remember that we are already whole, there's no place to go--
we're already there.
The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra
Welcome back to our Co-Creative Mandalas blog!
Each month, we share insights, inspiration, and all the ways the cycles of the Great Mandala uplift and support you. We draw upon the metaphors and messages of each season to explore and celebrate our individual and collective journeys toward Unity.
The Co-Creative Mandalas have a name that represents something about the natural world and
the energy of the current time.
This month's mandala is Persistence.
On October 31st, approximately half-way between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice, we enter into the dark half of the year. Darkness happens earlier, daylight comes later. This time is the border between light and dark, when the year has almost gone full circle. And, so have we.
What are some of your favorite aspects of this time of year? For me, two words: Flannel sheets!
We're putting our gardens to bed knowing that as the seeds from harvesting the garden's bounty lie dormant, they are in the darkness for a reason. As the bright orange, red, and yellow leaves on our maple trees are falling to the ground they remind me of the power and beauty that comes with this time of year.
Now is the time for reflection and introspection, for taking a deeper dive, for leaning into the mystery, magic and mysticism that comes with being a conscious human who is co-creating with the universe. This is a transformational time which acknowledges the value of the rest, darkness, and silence that is necessary for rebirth within and on earth in the spring. Death all around is a reminder that we live in the never-ending world of cycles, of seasonal changes, the same life, death, and rebirth we see in the natural world.
The seasonal energy is supporting you right now in the challenging work of releasing and letting things die in your life.
I invite you to embrace endings in as many ways as possible. There are losses that come with endings. It's important to acknowledge the losses and honor all your feelings. You have the opportunity to allow the process of letting go and welcoming new possibilities.
As the seasonal changes happen around you, this is also the perfect time to reflect on all that you’ve accomplished in the last year and check in on goals you’re still working to achieve.
Take a moment to recognize your accomplishments so far and to appreciate your hard work and persistence.
Persistence is a powerful tool for remembering your wholeness and your goodness. Being persistent is a kind of hope.
Many of us today are engaging in a tremendous amount of spiritual work. We’re meditating, praying, attending workshops, seminars, and retreats.
And this is good news. Because if the world is going to evolve, it’s going to take a lot of conscious people to lead the way.
Personal growth is a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Why? This world demands so much – toughness, persistence, and resilience. Our practices, our spiritual work help cultivate those qualities.
As human beings, we have a deep yearning to learn more about ourselves, how to navigate life, find meaning in our experiences, and help bring healing to ourselves and to the planet. Each of us makes an earnest commitment to be persistent in whatever spiritual practices we incorporate into our daily lives.
Yet, even with our best intentions, sometimes we get stuck looping the same beliefs and patterns that don't really serve us.
Like any journey, personal growth comes with ups and downs. Sometimes, those downs can surprise us. I recently had an experience that reminded me that the spiritual path can be rocky sometimes. I had a very unpleasant encounter with a neighbor, which led to a shouting match in her backyard. I was stunned by how angry I was. After the incident I berated myself for not being "spiritual enough", for losing my temper, for being unkind. For not being the perfect spiritual being after decades of meditating and personal growth work. For quite a while, it was hard feel in alignment with my wholeness, the wholeness I work so hard to remember. It seemed to take forever to shift from the intensity of the anger to feeling calm, relaxed, and at peace.
This is a great example of life taking me to a place I didn't consciously want to go. At first, I felt as if I must have made a mistake somewhere along the line. You know, bad karma and all. But in reality, I came to realize the experience was life’s way of taking me somewhere I needed to go in order to heal.
That realization was a process that didn't happen immediately.
I've been told that I'm very disciplined. I've sometimes carried that as a "badge of honor". My daily practices have been at the "hub" of my life for over 1/2 a century. I believe that persistence is a strength that supports my awakening and remembering. Persistence keeps my feet solidly on the path so that when changes and challenges shape my reality, I know I'm still headed toward the growth I want in my life.
Persistence is important in this difficult world - but so is softness.
That realization raises some questions: When does persistence become harsh, become another way to judge myself when I fall short? What is the downside of persistence? When does persistence become a weakness instead of a strength?
For many of us, that experience has its roots in childhood.
Maybe you've had these experiences: When you were a kid, did you feel like you had to always be a good little child, cute, and lovable? Were you allowed to express your anger or sadness? Were you appreciated for being yourself?
What happened when you didn't meet their expectations?
Did you believe that being perfect kept you safe? I know I did--and still do, believe that.
Perfectionism is an invisible force that gets turned on in our childhood and follows us around into adulthood. Our parents', teachers', and other voices stay stuck in our heads and continue playing without words. The need to be perfect becomes our motivation for persistence in achieving our goals.
As an adult, are you okay with making mistakes? Do give yourself grace when you do? Do you feel like you always have to stay the course, be persistent, push through, be tough on yourself?
Do you sometimes tell yourself:
I can't love and accept yourself until I get "there". Until I accomplish the goals I've set for myself? Until I'm "enlightened"?
This unattributed statement was recently on Facebook. Variations on this theme have been attributed to Brene' Brown.
Just because the journey toward remembering our goodness, our wholeness is lifelong…
It doesn’t mean the person that you are now isn’t good enough--just as you are!
Remembering your wholeness is a long process…sometimes it feels like one step forward, two steps back. There will be set-backs and disappointments along the way.
Moments of reactivity are great reminders to ease up on ourselves. I love that this awareness softened and lightened my reactions to my experience with my neighbor. It helped me release my resistance to what is. I eventually saw the patterns and unresolved emotional baggage that stand in the way of remembering my wholeness. Wholeness exists within whether things go my way or not. And when I forget my wholeness, I can still trust that I will find it if I am willing to see with "soft eyes", surrender to the situation, and move through it.
I came to realize the importance of allowing both persistence and permission. I gave myself permission to soften the harshness that sometimes comes when persistence is used in service of perfectionism.
Sometimes I wake up and have to remind myself: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME. I have patterns to unlearn, new behaviors to embody, and wounds to heal. But there is nothing wrong with the core of me and who I am. I am unlearning generations of harm and remembering love. That takes time.
The symbolism of this time of year implies that it is time to stop being negative toward yourself. And, to look at each challenge, every "mistake" in your life with kindness, self-acceptance, and humility.
So while it’s important to be persistent and keep learning, growing, and healing every single day…
It’s equally important to give yourself permission to love, accept, and appreciate yourself and who you are right here, right now.
Embracing permission AND persistence is the way forward.
Be persistent with your practices of stillness, meditation, laughter, prayer, noticing the birds, taking walks, connecting with those you love, and being kind to yourself.
Give yourself permission to own your wholeness. And, permission to sit in the sun, to breathe deeply, to tell yourself "I am good enough" - and believe it.
The Co-Creative Mandala below, "Persistence" is from a photo of marigolds (symbolizes clarity and overcoming obstacles). It reminds us that nothing is lost when we let go; it's transformation. Surrendering to the mystery is a part of life. You can accomplish anything with persistence, love, and grace.
sometimes...we are cocooning and becoming
for quite sometime...
but from inside the cocoon, the caterpillar
while dissolving whispered, 'trust the process.
trust the process'.