As we move into December and draw towards Christmas and the end of 2020, it’s hard to comprehend the year we have had. So much has happened and whilst we’ve been contained within our own houses and lives, the year has, on many levels, gone by in a blur.
You are not alone if you feel flat. If you feel sad. Hopeful. Tired. Worn down. Re-built. Undone. Lost. Found. Still flat. Still lost. Out-of-body even. It’s all out there in the air, isn’t it. Our lives have been tipped upside down and turned inside out, and for some, that feels a good thing. For others, it doesn’t.
However you feel right now, you can be certain that you are not alone. You are not alone if you feel flat and empty. You are not alone if you feel stressed and anxious. You are not alone if you feel joyful and hopeful.
I sense all of it in our collective. I feel all of it myself too. How about you?
One of the many things I have been grateful for as I have navigated 2020 so far, is that it has stripped me back to the simplicity of kindness and compassion. It’s stopped me getting ahead of myself, or any time that I do it pulls me right back into the moment.
It has brought me nearer to self-compassion than I’ve ever been before, and I hope it invites you to into that too. You, like I, have dug really deep this year. It’s a year that’s re-surfaced old wounds, created new ones, healed old ones, and healed new ones…all in a continual spiral that can make us question our sanity at times. Perhaps that’s the very point of it all, to help us to lose our mind so as to re-find a more loving, compassionate one.
This year has looked different for us all depending on our life situations and our own stories and inner-challenges; but underneath it all, we all want the same thing. We’re all just trying our best to be happy in life. To be free from suffering, as best we can.
We all lose our way in life sometimes, and sometimes we get the opportunity to let go of our grip of it, just enough to realise that there is beauty in simplicity. There is an ease in dropping everything but just being where we are.
Many have found that unbearably uncomfortable this year, to just be where they are, with who they are. But within that discomfort lays the most beautiful invitation. To soften to yourself. To be kind to yourself. To lovingly wrap yourself in love and support amidst all that you’ve faced this year. To gently acknowledge the depth you’ve been to, the courage you’ve had to find, and the pain you may have endured. Perhaps, for the first time ever, you’ve been invited into being with yourself so that you may know you are never alone. Perhaps, it’s invited you to learn to trust yourself a little more. To give yourself credit for all the things you do, and for your ability to dig deep even when you have struggled to find the strength to do so.
The invitation this year has, perhaps more than ever before, been an invitation to you to stop judging yourself so much in life. To drop some of those harsh perfectionism tendencies and realise that you are loved. It’s an invitation to sit with yourself lovingly, even when you are angry, hurting, scared, anxious, psychotic, bitter, and any of the other things that you would rather not see in yourself, or feel.
I know that personally, this year has really gifted me that invitation. At a deeper level, I have had the felt experience of simply surrendering to the wholeness of myself, lovingly. I’ve needed space at times. I’ve needed company at others. And I’ve lovingly learned to honour all that I need in a far deeper way. I’ve learned to look at others in even more love, and I’ve felt the depth that humans go to to try to hang on in there.
In the many webinars I’ve been in throughout the year I have felt people’s struggles and we’ve held space together for each other. We’ve talked about how we’ve flipped out at times and how we’ve been people we’ve been ashamed to be. And in some of those moments, when we’re flipping out, we forget that we’re all just doing the best that we can. Sometimes we lose control over ourselves because in those moments we have nothing more to give. In the after-reflection of those moments, it’s easy to compare ourselves to those that appear to be handling it all so well, but I’d encourage you not to.
If you would like a practical way of applying this, then aside from doing so as often as you can in everyday life, try sitting for 10 or 15 minutes simply bringing your awareness into your breath. Let all thoughts, feelings and emotions arise and disappear as they will, and as they do, wrap yourself and them in love. Let go of a need to do anything with anything that arises. Simply let it arise and sit lovingly with yourself as it does. Keep bringing yourself back into awareness of your breath as the steady anchor throughout the practice, especially if thoughts or feelings get overwhelming. Just breathe. Know that you are not alone. Allow yourself to be exactly as you are, gently. Allow yourself breathing space.
Life isn’t always pretty. As humans, we often disagree. We dislike each other sometimes. We fail to understand each other, often. We’re impatient with each other. And at times cruel. But nowhere as much as we are to ourselves.
I’d encourage you, in moments of reflection, to lovingly wrap yourself in kindness and compassion. To know that you’ve done the best that you can, as you always have, and you always will. Let those moments of self-reflection be an invitation to you to be that little bit more patient with others when they are flipping out and struggling, in the knowingness that they too are doing the best that they can, even when it looks otherwise.
So, perhaps, like me, this year might gift you too with the invitation of being a little softer with yourself, and in doing so with others. Being softer doesn’t mean being a doormat; it means lovingly holding ourselves and others with respect. It perhaps means remembering that we never know the whole picture. We can never have walked in another’s shoes, nor they in ours, even when we think we know what that would be like.
It means standing up for our values, but with love. It means accepting that others may have different values, and that’s ok. We’re all just trying to be happy and free from suffering….in the best way we each know how.
So, as we move into this festive period, perhaps the greatest gift you can give is one of kindness and compassion, first to yourself, and allowing that to gently overflow to others as and when you can. If we can do that, then there is indeed much to be hopeful for as we draw near the close of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.