Author: Adam Stephens
Hello good friends.
2021 has been a noisy year that has filled many of us (I'm going to go ahead and say all of us) with dissonance and confusion.
Never in my life have I felt so much heaviness in myself, the people I love, and the world at large.
I'm in mindfulness training right now, and it has required that I be in meditation multiple times a day. I've discovered that even amid the chaos, meditation and prayer work.
I have taken these experiences as evidence that there is no anxiety or suffering that will stand forever. I'm not saying we can master all negative emotions, but we can learn to let go.
I'll settle for the ability to smile today and the ability to admit when I'm wrong.
Quite often, I am.
I'm sure we all have good intentions but take a moment to think about some of the conversations you've had lately. Have they been loving and full of kindness and compassion, or has there been some resistance and frustration?
I witnessed and certainly felt myself seething with emotion at times. Where there is anger, there is fear. Now more than ever, our brains are on fire with sensory inputs, many of which beg for our attention and leave us feeling exhausted.
Our brains are becoming accustomed to multitasking and being plugged into a digital matrix continuously.
You've probably felt this way, too, unless you're a prophet, and if you are, can you please enlighten the rest of us!
My problem-solving mind wants to infuse the pandemic with reason, which is a lost cause, just to put it bluntly.
However, I'll be the first to admit I feel hopeful today. I refuse to be down, and I encourage you to take the same attitude!
I made a few resolutions for this year.
I chose the word "happiness" as my one word for 2021.
I started meditating daily.
I significantly reduced refined sugar. (I've done this for an entire year twice, and to be honest, it's incredible.)
I'll be the first to admit this is a one-day at a time type of deal, but I have succeeded more days than not.
As all of this stuff soaks in, I realize how much I've been craving silence and devotional time.
I am getting better at clearing many non-essential commitments from my calendar and can feel a palpable sense of relief the moment I delete them from my devices.
It's hard to be in a relationship with God when other people always surround you or when you are in the grind of work. Work never stops now and has somehow blended its way into our family lives. Work buzzes at us all the time. It eats dinner with us and lives on our nightstand.
Humans have egos, perceptions of ourselves as separate from one another. We play isolated characters within the universe.
Ego puts us on a collision course with one another, and it guarantees we will encounter the "bad guy." We will always face evil if we hope to maintain our image as one of the "good guys."
Much of these attempts to appear perfect are rooted in shame, which is the most toxic emotion a human can experience.
Relationships, even with people we love dearly, have the potential to reinforce this villain narrative, and it's in that fractured state that we become capable of so much destruction. That's how we hurt one another.
Even worse, we may pose as the blameless victim that has no power at all. We wrestle with challenging emotions and project blame outside of ourselves.
Projection is a convenient way of shielding ourselves from deep spiritual work and emotional pain.
Don't let yourself collapse into shame. Take ownership of your stuff right now and set out on a recovery path.
Peace is within you; your nervous system has an entire branch designed for relaxation. We have thousands of years of spirituality in our collective consciousness as humans.
We have all the more reason to stop and be in a relationship with the Divine mystery.
In the mystery, we can trust God's divine plan. In the mystery, we can surrender our judgments and rest.
In stillness, I feel relaxed. Nothing to do. No battle to fight. No stone to cast.
Perhaps if we want to see less suffering in the world, we should start with ourselves.
I suggest we all take time for stillness today.
The world can wait, but our souls can not.
We need hope, and that starts with rest.