Part 3 – cont’d from …
This is where I might need to add that, at the age of 20, while attending college in the States, I found myself trapped in a date-rape nightmare. Actually, it was not a ‘date’ as such, just an agreement to attend the evening Homecoming football game with a guy I had met through mutual acquaintances on campus.
Seeing as my girlfriend would be busy elsewhere at the time of the game, I agreed to go.
The traumatic event of rape and being held captive lasted several hours, and throughout those hours pinned under his weight, I feared I would not escape alive.
But I did.
The guy abruptly slumped on top of me … and dozed off, snoring.
The vision of the hunting rifle that I had noticed earlier tilted against the sofa was silently urging me to make a move – to make very quiet, very slow moves – to free myself from under the weight of that body.
The fear of waking him in the process gripped my brain but survive, I did.
I survived by jumping half-naked out of a first-floor window sometime after dawn when I sensed my captor was deep in sleep.
My torn pants bundled under an arm I, literally ran for my life.
Broken and drained, I collapsed at the entrance of a 7 Eleven store.
The kind worker came to offer assistance.
I mumbled my phone number.
He called Cher, my girlfriend, who came and drove me back home.
Later that day, Cher took me to the hospital for a check-up and a morning-after pill.
Then, I asked her to drive me to the nearest police station, where I made my deposition.
Months later, when the case was presented to the Courts, the perpetrator was declared Not Guilty.
The jury had decided that the bruises on the neck, across my Adam’s apple and stomach, could have been sustained during heated but consensual sex.
After all, I had ‘agreed’ to go back to his place after the game.
And that was in the ’70s long before Bondage sex and BDSM became a fad in the ’90s!
Be that as it may, the intangible result of that particular [karmic] complication might have been that the sense of feeling unimportant and vulnerable that had been whirring within since my youth had been compounded by that long and brutal assault.
It probably revved up and cemented the helplessness I had felt as a child.
It can now be labelled PTSD.
Back to the present: if my desire-rainbow was to, one day, feel that my little mother loved me, I’ve reached that destination.
I can tie up my little raft and stretch out on the soft sand.
If my desire-rainbow was to get to wave that chronic anxiety bye-bye forever … I need to aim for another desire-rainbow and create a new course to reach it, onboard my little raft.
To use a computer maintenance analogy, I need to disable more programs that are no longer necessary for my survival. I need to clean up all ‘system junk’.
I need to delete all ‘cookies’ and potentially unwanted programs that may clog up my system.
I need to deactivate all of that from my inner drive.
In the meantime, I breathe consciously when I feel a frazzle coming on.
So, dear Reader, how about, right now, in this moment underfoot, we settle into a 3 minutes breath practice?
Eyes closed, body relaxed, let’s inhale quietly and deeply through the nose and exhale slowly, silently, through the mouth.
Let’s imagine a gentle stream of fresh air coming in as we inhale slowly – mindfully.
Let’s hold that in-breath at the top of our head for a couple of seconds before releasing it slowly through the mouth.
Each out-breath clears away flakes of darkness, of encrusted stress, of negativity and anxiety.
We see it.
We energise that vision.
We can easily practice breathing consciously during our usual commute or any time we have literally 3 minutes to spare.
Of course, we already know there are no lasting quick-fixes for anything – not even for our shallow breathing so, yup, dear Reader, practice makes perfect.
A couple of years ago, I downloaded a free mindfulness app from Plum village, one of several monastic communities founded by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
I’ve programmed a bell of mindfulness to ring every 30 minutes.
It’s the prompt I need to sit up or stand, to move my shoulders and neck.
It’s the prompt I need to breathe consciously.
It’s the prompt I need to remember to be consciously present in the moment underfoot.
I have been meditating daily for the past five years and, as surely as good rain is essential to plant growth, that daily practice has gone a very long way in enabling me to respond ‘to life as I know it’ with doses of patience and equanimity that I would not have been able to generate twenty years ago – not even five years ago.
‘Hameichin mitzadei gaver’, used to say Yudit CS. We thank Soul [or God or whichever entity in which we have placed our faith] for guiding our footsteps in the right direction.
Reality check: understanding ‘the way’ is one thing. It’s the first thing.
Developing the ability to energise and activate our best intentions in the presence of rips, strong waves and gusts of wind is the next step.
Actualising our best-heartfelt intentions in the face of all perceived adversity is another.
These days, when I see actions or hear words that stir up what I don’t want to be stirred up, I fall back on Eudaimonia.
Aristotle coined the word to refer to the concept of the good embedded in all that is good.
Good, doing good, performing ‘good’, feeling ‘good’ can only be a package deal.
I now refuse to let mistrust pull me in one direction, resentment in another, while fear pulls in a third direction.
I choose to not enable them.
I do not let them feed me thoughts.
I will not let them in and make me fail in my practice.
I will not allow them to rip me away from the course I have chartered for myself.
So, I make myself slip on the cloak of the detached Observer.
I concentrate as best I can on the physical aspects of the moment, not on my mind’s interpretation of the words I hear.
Not on emotions that may lurk in keen anticipation of gripping my gut once again.
I just don’t let them.
When I sense my stomach tighten during a difficult ‘exchange of ideas’, I find a simple excuse to absent myself for a few minutes.
Then, I make myself use the 4-7-8 breathing technique, but any exhale that is twice as long as the inhale (through the nose) will work just as well.
Hands on chest – hands on heart.
I might even hum silently, allowing the sound to resonate in my belly.
Either practice is enough to reset my emotions and settle my mind.
I can, then, return to the conversation and better stick to my intention of participating as a detached Observer.
Modern science has confirmed that humming is one of the simplest yet most profound sounds humans can create.
It increases oxygen in the cells and, among several other benefits, it lowers our blood pressure and heart rate.
If my presence is required, but there is no urgent demand for my replies, I prep myself with a few minutes of Box breathing.
And that moment, too, does pass.
In any case, silence can be a most rewarding sound.
How is our silence quotient at any given moment?
My take on silence is that it is the sound of the wise.
And another storm has been avoided.
In those moments, I do the best I can.
In the upcoming string of moments, I might be able to do better.
If not now, then tomorrow.
I might be able to do better then.
One’s ‘Best’ is always variable.
But ‘Best’ is always a good place to start again.
‘Better’ is an excellent place to end … until next time.
‘At the centre of your being you have the answer,’ said Lao Tzu. ‘You know who you are and you know what you want.’
To that, I reply, ‘I am 15 meters tall.
I am a tree, a tall, sturdy tree.
I am one of the many Gum Trees that abound here, in Brisbane, Australia.
My bark is white.
It is smooth except for a few gashes here and there – nature’s way to release sap.
My shallow, far-spreading roots are adapted to harsh growing conditions.
When the wind is up, when a storm is emptying itself from Above Below, I feel the movements of my limbs and leaves.
I know my thick branches are not buffeted by the wind.
I feel them move to allow the wind to pass through them.
Deliberately, they offer no resistance.
They sway for as long as the wind blows.
Then they settle into calmness.
Then they settle again into being bird sanctuaries.’
As an aside, indigenous people used ‘gum’ tree sap sometimes as candy, similar to the sap of Maple trees.
Sometimes as medicine.
Sometimes as adhesive, too, depending on how the sap was treated.
Reality check: each one of us beings incarnated on planet Earth since the dawn of time and till the end of time will have been ‘here’ for a reason, to fulfil a purpose within the mundane but often challenging plot beats of ‘life’.
That purpose is embedded in all that we might label as complications or setbacks.
That purpose is embedded in our breakthroughs, in our failures and in our lucky breaks.
It’s embedded in our sadness.
It’s embedded in the deep-seated fear of being found lacking in some way.
And it’s embedded in our happiness.
It’s also embedded in the freedom we give ourselves to be our selves.
The duty-bound expression of our personal purpose can only be realised through each of the emotions, thoughts, actions, reactions and inactions with which we address each perceived complication – and each of our ‘Yes!’ moments.
There is no other reason for human presence on Earth.
We are the only ones endowed with a conscience.
We are the only ones able to choose and decide for ourselves, should we want to.
We are the only ones able to make a pronouncement on … everything, however unwise it might sometimes be.
And, so, we take it from there … one moment at a time.
As we tighten the sails on our little raft, we detach from the memories of the past.
And we smile at our selves.
We hug our beautiful inner self.
After all, she is the one who, under Soul’s guidance, has kept us resilient and caring through the myriad complications we have already faced – and survived in this lifetime.
We thank our physical self, too, for, as we well know, she is the one doing all the hard emotional and physical work.
And she is the one to withstand all the emotional jolts.
Already back then, when we were tiny beings, our persona did the best she could to keep us safe and able to move forward under Soul’s wing.
Restoring harmony to our body, heart, and mind is by its very nature an essential aspect of our purpose, and it’s always to remain a work in progress.
It’s deemed to be a component of self-love.
Research also confirms that it is important to challenge ourselves, not just in the workplace and sports.
Difficult times provide the ideal garden bed for growth.
Up to us, then, to fertilise this purpose-made soil for our much-needed, real coming of age.
How soon we get there depends on each of the decisions we make today.
It depends as much on the small ones, and it does on the big ones.
‘Gam zu letova’, as Yudit CS would say about any of my ‘difficult’ moments. Yes, that, too, is good.
And … for those who are robust enough to accept this optic, there always is a rare moment in our life that will positively separate ‘before and after’ for ourselves and our loved ones.
Bottom line: the only way to lead a worthwhile life as a shaper of a healthy global legacy is by being sustainably coherent beings now. When we look back, we want to have reasons to smile – a big smile.
And, now, dear Reader, back @ you and your desire-rainbow😊
Once your thoughts are remapped, you’re ready to jump on your little raft, strong and ready to handle … come what may – from the inside-out.
So, then, towards which desire rainbow are you setting sail?
What will be your ultimate destination for that authentic ‘journey of a lifetime’?
Carole Claude Saint-Clair©2021