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III. Sustained, kind attention is the root of healing.

Your kind attention to yourself, your consciousness and your presence in your own life are enough to shift some kinds of stuck stuff. Sometimes you need outside help because whatever you are struggling with is so deeply embedded that you cannot will yourself out of it. When it’s hard to look at, whatever it is, we have a tendency to go to sleep on it, as in, to lapse back into unconsciousness around it. Some life issues or experiences are so hard to digest that we have to keep coming back to them again and again, healing what is available at that moment, and then letting it be integrated into our bodies so that we can come back for another round of healing, where healing really means digestion and integration of the experience into our lives. Physical practice sustains us. So does self-inquiry.

I use walking and writing and aikido, also ritual and the beautiful structure of the check-in (10 minutes of time to speak into deep listening ears without being fixed). You don’t have to use these, but it helps with the work of creating a loved and beautiful life to have ways to make space in it and to be in your body not in your mind. Maybe yoga and meditation are your things. Maybe it’s chi gong. Maybe it’s spoken word poetry. The idea here is self-connection and embodiment. Not enlightenment.

There is a lingering belief that taking care of yourself in this way, with loads of attention given to yourself, is selfish or will make you arrogant. In fact it’s quite the opposite: the more you see yourself as an ordinary, mortal, flawed human with minimal intensity around blame and shame, the gentler you get with those around you. Humble and huge at the same time - taking up the space in the world that is yours without needing to push yourself to be too big or shrink yourself too small - neither posturing nor collapsing.

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