What I learned this year is that the big, deep, challenging changes that we desire happen over time, bit by bit, like a big ship turning.
I learned it’s easy to lose faith in the process, or to discount my progress. To judge myself that I still, still, still struggle to make time in my life for play, or that I let the days slip by without stepping into the spotlight. That I still am trying to lose weight and have better money habits.
Healing the parts of myself that are sad, broken, or wounded takes not only time but lots of love.
This time last year I wrote about wanting to move my body more and listen to what she wants and needs. I wrote about sinking into spending regular time on my money habits like tracking my income and expenses.
This year, I’m in the middle of learning a new way to eat, hoping to bring my body back into balance, trying to drop some weight. And I’m writing about embracing financial integrity and stability even more deeply, as a form of self-love.
When I re-read my words from last year, and saw how eerily similar they are to my desires for this year, it took me aback.
Am I just straining each year to reach the same goals? Am I treading water? Striving towards some impossible standard I’ll never reach?
Can I find peace with both my wanting and the struggles I experience in reaching for what I want?
My friend Patricia use a phrase “your charnel ground” – meaning in this case the area of your life of greatest struggle, of greatest wounding. Hers has been around body and weight. Mine seems to be insecurity, fear, and judgment of myself around money.
(A concept from Buddhist practice, the charnel ground is literally the place where corpses were brought to be cremated or, more often, left to rot and be consumed by wild animals. The value of the charnel ground, from a spiritual perspective, is that it strips you of illusion. “In a charnel ground, you could practice . . . like your life depended on it. . . It wasn’t a place that supported pretense or facade or hollow philosophizing.” From www.ratnapeaceinitiative.org Prison as Charnel Ground.)
From my conversations with Patricia, what I understand is that at some point we accept that yes, this is my charnel ground, this isn’t something I’ll solve with a simple three-step process, or a six-week program. This is an issue so deeply wound into my DNA that it is a struggle that may be with me for a lifetime.
And in accepting that, to neither resign myself to defeat nor hold out hope for a quick and easy fix. And instead, to learn to embrace the deep, often slow, inner work, and to celebrate the triumph of every small and unsteady step towards more wholeness and more love and compassion for myself.
To be able to say to myself “this is the thing I do. I agonize about not making enough money no matter how much money I make.” Or for someone else to say “I suffer daily about the size and shape of my body.” or “I live in fear that everything I have will be taken away from me.”
When I let go of trying to solve or eliminate my struggles, a wonderful space opens up where I can move, where I can breathe, where I actually have a greater capacity to consider a new way of operating, one that I might actually be able to sustain.
My struggle becomes that familiar visitor who, while not always welcome, is well-known.
I soften with compassion for myself for the pain I feel. I ease into the healing practices of my inner work. I allow myself to live and breathe through the discomfort.
And maybe, just some days, I feel grateful for the invitation to transform this pain into more life for myself.
There is something I find very beautiful about the process of naming your desires and then being held throughout the year to track how fully you are honoring those desires.