12 November 2008

Do you need a cataclysm?

Lately I've been really jamming on Christopher Moors. If you're at all interested in cultivating yourself spiritually, in deepening your creativity, and in finding out what a real teacher sounds like, I think you could do a lot worse than listen to his stuff. (You can find many of his Red Ice interviews and more on his website under the "Radio" tab on the lefthand side.)

I've been going through the back catalogue of his interviews at Red Ice Creations Radio. In one of them, he makes reference to a song that he wrote, and he sings a little bit:

"Do you need a cataclysm to face yourself? Or can you do it now?"

I've definitely gone the cataclysm route in the past. Around the time that I hit twenty, I was really starting to open up in interesting ways. I thought I'd try some yoga. Then I broke both my arms in a cycling accident. can't do yoga with two busted arms. So I tried tai chi instead. I'm still on the tai chi path, and it's been deeper and richer and more fascinating than I could have imagined. It's the foundation for all of my spiritual practice. And I have to say that the world is way different - and much better - than it was when I first started tai chi all those years ago.

A few days ago I wrote about an emotional and psychological breakdown I had during grad school. Uh, hello: big indication that there was something not right about what I was doing. (That breakdown came in the wake of a bad breakup - nothing like the end of a crap relationship to make you really ask "why?")

The thing is, I think many of us wait for a big smack to the face before we stop long enough to ask, "Wait - what am I doing? And why am I doing it?" There are few opportunities to look within, especially in this culture, where the key to many people's self-worth seems to lie in their claim to being "really busy". "Oh, I'm so busy," we sigh, and we feel rather proud of ourselves. I recently told some friends that I had made it my goal in life to never be busy again. One of them looked at me like I had two heads. "You can do that?" she said. Sure I can. Watch me stop and smell the roses. Watch me do stuff, but not so much stuff that I run out of time.

Sometimes, if you're lucky (and I consider myself very lucky), life will hand you an opportunity to look within.

If you're smart (and I think I occasionally manage that these days), you'll take the opportunity to look within often, and you'll look thoroughly, and with different sorts of eyes.

So, if you're having a sick day, or something happens to stop you in your tracks (whether it's something beautiful or something terrible), ask what it's trying to show you. What do you need to know? What do you need to face?

For those who want to start without a cataclysm, here are a few clues. If you assemble these into a coherent shape, they might draw a map to your next step:

You totally deserve to be genuinely happy.

Are you living in conflict with something or someone? Why?

Creativity is not just for eccentric artist types. It's for everyone, all the time.

Your body deserves the best care you can give it. If you keep the body happy, you'll be happier, too.

Can you relax? What does relaxation mean to you?

Why did you go where you went? Why did you do what you did? Why do you love who you love? Why do you hate who you hate? How good are your answers to these questions? Do they have deeper, more meaningful answers? Drop down a layer and see.

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