Striving and Allowing
I feel like I’m emerging from a cocoon today. I was taken within my heart and home by a procession of west coast deluges and some big full moon energy. Living in the North for fifteen years, I was accustomed to winter’s darkening days and dropping temperatures and welcomed the crisp silence. Now I’m feeling winter upon me in a different way, sloshing about, the lid of the pot being lifted every so often to give glorious glimpses of the sun. Like today.
And amongst all this, I’ve been noticing my own imbalance between striving and allowing, swinging from one end to another and feeling such discontent at both ends. I’m a work in progress, no doubt about it, but I thought I’d share some perspectives, with the hope that they are helpful to you in your own human journey.
What I’ve come to know is that when we strive too much, we do not attain or accomplish what we hoped. Pushing things unnaturally does not result in better or quicker outcomes.
Honestly, when I endeavour too earnestly, what really happens is that I wear myself out, increase my doubt and frustration and complicate the situation. I slide into behaviors typical of a previous version of myself, one that believed I had to productive is to be valued and that, if I didn’t go out and make things happen, it meant that I didn’t really believe in them. Then I push with panic and urgency.
I’m getting good at noticing when I’m striving excessively. My chin is jutting forward, my neck craned. My thoughts are focused on what’s next, what I want to happen, even what “has” to happen. I can feel that desire as it pushes outward against my chest walls, demanding activation.
I have this feeling when I want integration to happen quickly. You know, absorb the life lessons so I can move on. Have it in me. I can see who I am becoming, so just get there already. Pushing my own evolution. Out of alignment.
And when I sit back and wait for things to unfold naturally, I wonder if I’m leaving too much in the hands of the divine/fate/universe. If I’m not reaching out, claiming and championing the things that I want to happen, are they less likely to occur? I hear from the part of me that says I’m taking the easy way out, disengaged from my own life, complacent and irresponsible. I sense a warning about being this trusting.
This is where I’ve spent the past two weeks, connecting deeply with the core of who I am and surrendering to what is emerging in me. Listening to the beat of my own heart, carried by the rhythm and trusting completely that something important was happening on my inner landscape. But I was unable to carry on conversations, forgot to eat and went to bed at 8pm, oblivious to the rest of the world. In a dream and out of alignment.
Clearly, I’ve been feeling the polarities and wondering about the balance point between striving and allowing. There is contentment and ease in me when I am putting energy and intention towards something and, at the same time, allowing it to take shape as it will. Like watering the garden and trusting the flowers to sprout in their own time. This is the balance I seek.
If you’re resonating with this topic, I offer you three illuminating approaches to finding/ regaining your balance.
A Body Alignment Practice
Begin by standing.
Look as far forward as possible for 15-30 seconds, opening your eyes as widely and taking in as much as possible. Then rest your eyes and adjust back to normal vision range.
Push your chin outward for 15-30 seconds, as if you were being led by a string attached to it. Let it pull you. Then, tuck you chin slightly, return to a neutral stance and breathe gently.
Push your chest and torso as far forward as possible. Exaggerate the curvature of your spine. Return to a neutral stance and breathe gently.
Lean your whole body as far forward, relying on your toes to keep you from falling. Return to a neutral stance and breathe gently.
Take a full minute to become more aware of your neutral stance: the position of your chin, the shape of your neck and spine, the alignment of feet, hips and shoulders.
This is your balance.
Not striving forward. Not slouching back. Just here now, at ease.
When you finish, take notes of the sensations and thoughts you observed in each step.
Rinse and repeat for 14 days (or more).
What becomes possible for you when you are more able to return to your balance?
An Art Project
On a piece of any kind of paper, create a gradient between two colours. Use paint, pencil crayons, pastels or whatever you like. Paint/draw one solid colour at each end, gradually blending them in the middle. (Trust me, hours and hours can disappear in this work.)
What differences do you perceive now between the far edges?
What did you notice in the mixing?
What hues do you prefer?
Where do you feel your balance?
A Simple Ritual
Create an altar with two polarities - perhaps one white candle and one black candle; one dark and one light stone; a red cloth and a blue cloth; a bowl of water and a bowl of soil. Trust your instincts as to what to include.
Bring yourself present with your breath. Slowly open yourself to guidance and love.
Begin according to your own traditions, saying a prayer, singing a song, casting the circle, calling the divine and asking to be shown something about balance. There are many good ways and whatever feels right to you is right.
Settle and give your attention to the energies of day and night. Sense all the moments in between, the changing light and activity. Take your time and allow yourself to be shown the nuances between the points of balance and the extremities. What lies in the journey from dark to light, from one side to the other?
Then give your attention to striving and allowing. Again, explore the subtle energies of the end points and the balance between them. Where is there resistance? Where is there ease? Take it into your heart. Check in with your body. Notice what stories arise. What are you being shown about your balance point?
Close the ritual with gratitude.
What I Know
Whatever is going on in your life – whether it brings joy or struggle - it is the divine light of love in you, as you, breaking through into your life. This is nothing to resist. Trust it, embrace it and let it have its way.
Effort Action wait trust
Do. Need to do. just be. exhale.
Pushing uphill surrender to gravity
Make it happen give it space
Create. I am creation.
An expression of the greatest Love.
I’d love to hear where you find balance between striving allowing. What does it feel like there? How do you return there? What more is possible for you when you in this balance?
With you on the journey,