I married my high school sweetheart. Young, naïve, following my heart, we lived in a good dream for years before I was broken open with the birth of my second daughter, born with liver disease. Being broken open is a phrase I use to describe catastrophe striking someone who is then shaken awake.
I have been awake for 46 years stumbling through life learning about myself. It’s not a fun process waking up. It’s hard work, feeling deep while picking apart the lessons, often not finding the gems until years pass. And there’s always a gem.
Yesterday, my life path rumbled and I felt the quake. My ex-high school sweetheart woke up. Facing cancer and mortality, signs of stirring were recognized and I could feel it. The telltale catastrophe did its work and lift off happened. It was a joyous and stunning feeling. I don’t wish suffering on anyone, but suffering is part of living. It’s suffering and sleeping that lead one into a living hell.
Breaking open is occurring all over the planet. Catastrophe is striking in lives of any age. People are shaken awake and get to choose to learn or ignore. The media is filled with catastrophes. Gossip is filled with catastrophes. Ignoring the breaking open process doesn’t honor the spiritual journey, leaves aside meaning to life’s ups and downs and holds stagnant energy in an endless loop of anxious living.
Learning, on the other hand, may not change the catastrophe, but deep learning happens, learning that propels one forward to more understanding, widens perspectives and offers wisdom. I never expected to survive my daughter’s transition. Life has not been easy by any means.
I stand on a vista and recognize patterns occurring and choices being made. There are so many wisdom keepers on the planet present and holding space for those breaking open. Life has accelerated. Covid offers us an opportunity to wake up. Those who choose to see recognize the great stirring of humanity.
My journey led me to discover the power of silence. I attended a silent retreat four years ago and never stopped. In silence I learned the power of surrender. My ego campaigned and resisted and I surrendered. I will continue to hold space for myself and others who are willing to sit in silence for 15 minutes every day. I trust this process and breathe through the discomfort and resistance. Silence is not only my spiritual practice, it is my way of living day to day, sometimes hour by hour.
We talk a lot about our inner child. I want to assure you your inner child is paying attention. Your inner child is soaking up the time and presence you offer to yourself in silence. Healing is happening. Be gentle with yourself. Trust this process. When doubt arises, breathe with awareness, seek community and resources that offer you respite on your journey.
by HA JIN
You must hold your quiet center,
where you do what only you can do.
If others call you a maniac or a fool,
just let them wag their tongues.
If some praise your perseverance,
don't feel too happy about it—
only solitude is a lasting friend.
You must hold your distant center.
Don't move even if earth and heaven quake.
If others think you are insignificant,
that's because you haven't held on long enough.
As long as you stay put year after year,
eventually you will find a world
beginning to revolve around you.
Loved the reflection on the solitude and growth in the womb and want to add...how profound that solitude and growth, yet at the same time intimately connected to and held by “other” at the same time. Much like this circle of silence. Thank you! I will be back!
I recognize, as an adult, being broken open (see Feb 24 blog) but I am wondering, as a child we go through difficult things that are breaking us open, but we don’t recognize it as a child.
I can relate to that. I didn’t have a very good childhood myself. I pondered that as I was listening to what I wrote. Children have an innate wisdom but also a complete dependence on everything around them. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know it’s part of the whole picture. In some ways, as a child in my experience, I suffered a lot and buried it in order to survive. As I aged and things changed, I learned. As I got strong enough to deal with what I buried, it came out at the pace I could handle. That is my understanding. A lot of crap happens when we are children. These primal wounds happen and they become part of our energy field. We live our lives reacting to them. And I believe, at the same time, as things happen, we gather wisdom and as we break open, things percolate to the top that we can heal.
The words ‘only solitude is a lasting friend.’ For some reason, my thinking went to the fetus and how, in nine months, all of our organs develop in that solitude. We don’t talk in the womb. The miracle of life happens as our organs develop, our capacity to think, our hearts—how much growth happens in that solitude. And then the mother’s body breaks open and the child is born. Without that solitude and that growth period in those nine months, we wouldn’t be who we are. So much growth takes place when we are in solitude that we are not conscious of, just like in the womb. We have to trust that we are growing when we let solitude surround us.
In my opinion, as a baby gestates over the nine months, the center of our spiritual being builds because it’s not only physical growth, there is a spiritual energy growing in the womb. It grows with us as a child and it holds its center.
I’d like to go to a silent retreat. People come away from them with a whole new perspective and they are glad they did it.
That line also popped out to me. ‘Only solitude is a lasting friend.’ I was broken open about 30 years ago by the situation I was in and moved and created a whole new life. Lots of therapy. I started seeing how I made other people my lasting friends and depended on them. I had to learn to get in touch with myself and be in solitude. That’s where the core of me really starts. That I am my own lasting friend in the solitude of myself. It wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t broken open by the situation I was in. It took a long time to recover. Thank you for sharing.
My immediate reaction to broken open was a chicken hatching, a positive thing. I am having a hard time coping today because of a conversation I had with my son about my granddaughter. She is not coping with all the changes and being trapped at home. It’s been horrible for her. She is quite clinically depressed at this point. We are hoping in addition to therapy, breaking open may be a positive thing, and she’ll emerge into a happy new reality.
The gift you can give to them is holding the knowledge that there’s a greater purpose going on here. You hold steady with that knowledge. You’ll demonstrate the power of presence by showing up.
Thank you for the reading. I reflected on breaking open. As a child, I had a scary accident and then later my mother died when I was a teenager. I handled both experiences by tucking them away and didn’t allow them to surface in any way. I enjoyed the attention after the accident. I never took in the pain. All these things occurred later in my life when the issues of loss and safety arose and I had to face them. During the reflection, I was seeing that safety is developed in solitude. Being able to connect with oneself in important ways, it takes place in that solitude. That was a wonderful understanding, as opposed to sitting in solitude and forcing myself to do something, like meditate. It’s a true connection.
The power of reflection. We each have our own lives and we each express it in different ways. It’s amazing to hear the words of our own experiences.
Thank you. Your insights always spark something in me. I was looking into joining a spiritual direction program. One of the prerequisites is that I belong to some sort of community. It does have a Christian base. I think you all are my church. I don’t belong to a formally-organized church. I think this training program was looking for me to be in some sort of container. I have an image of my spirit and my love and my core, which has exploded, and it would be asked to pull back into a container. I can’t do it. It’s already contained within a body. To contain it within a bigger body feels wrong. I feel like I’m still looking for my path, where I can plug in. I’m still looking for structure. I understand structure is important for learning. So how do I continue to expand and grow? I don’t feel I can betray that core energy that is in everything. That’s my core, that’s my center. Not the church, not the religion, even as beautiful and respectful as those people can be. The journey is so long.
I applaud you in your discernment. You are discerning what is your truth. Sometimes what comes in front of us doesn’t fit with what we are discerning as our truth. We are never not learning or growing. You are putting out into the universe what you want, and an opportunity comes into your awareness and you can say no, thank you, I’ll wait for the next one, or yes please. I experienced the same search, and as soon as I found what I wanted, I knew instantly without having to fit it into a confined space. You’ll know. Every bell will ring.
Thank you so much for everything. I was brought to mind the book by Richard Rohr called Falling Upwards. During the first part of our life, we create the container. And the second part, it falls apart. I have lived that in my life. I tried Plan A for 34 years, had children and grandchildren. During that time, I knew real early on maybe I had paired up with not the best fit for me. I was raised on commitment and you stay with it. I was taught to only look for the good. So I named the good and stuffed the not so good. I reached a point where I couldn’t do it anymore. I’ve been waking up since then and finding out more about me. Thankfully, I’ve had the thread of a silence anchor. That’s been a part of my life always. I’m thrilled to be here. I know my expansiveness now. This is a wonderful group to be connected with. Thank you.
This group is like a church, so to speak. We are all so grateful for it and it’s a nice w