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Sat Nam Everyone!
How do you respond when you feel triggered? What are your default tendencies? Do you get "icy"- cold and distant from those around you (even though you really want love!)? Do you get "firey" and allow a 'word vomit' of emotions to come up and out? Do you look for a way out?
Or do you SOFTEN, COOL yourself and create a WARM, SAFE space around you?
Today I wanted to share with you a profound TRIGGER I experienced recently, and the practice that shifted me out of PAIN and ISOLATION and back into LOVING CONNECTION.
My husband (AJ) and I had planned to go on a weekend trip to a Mountain town a couple of hours from our home in California. We were going to leave Friday afternoon and be there until Sunday afternoon. I was really looking forward to it, and found myself visioning the beautiful natural surroundings, hiking trails, books and tea, and a retreat from technology.
Friday afternoon my husband calls to let me know that he had miscalculated CA traffic, and he wouldn't get home until later Friday evening. Feeling a bit disappointed, I felt into it, and allowed it to pass as I explored how I would like to spend the afternoon and evening that had just opened up for me. We got up early Saturday morning, packed up our car and dogs, and headed out! It was a beautiful drive and a beautiful morning! There were a few traffic jams and detours, but we chose to focus on the beautiful snow-capped mountains and placid lake.
We check in and drive up the small road to our cabin; it's completely BLOCKED off by snow! AJ clears a bit of a path with his shoes to get into the cabin for a shovel and lets our dogs out. He comes back out and says, "You better go check it out; I don't think we can stay here." I walk in to a cabin with dirty floors, mouse droppings, and a thermostat that won't budge from 41 degrees; meanwhile one dog pukes and another pees and poops on the floor! I feel it rising, breathe, and look for cleaning supplies. I found vinegar and another cleaner but no towels or paper towels. I remember I have a roll in the car and go to work cleaning up while seeing if the heat would kick in.
After about 30 minutes of cleaning and shoveling, we decide to go to the check-in center to see what our options are. Ultimately, we decided to pack up our car and drive back home.
I noticed myself feeling many sensations: disappointment that reality wasn't matching up with my fantasy of the trip; guilt for having expectations in the first place and for not being able to let go of it; inferiority to AJ who seemed at peace with the outcome; and also a peace and freedom from taking action and finding a solution, rather than feeling stuck in our situation. After plans to go hiking the next morning went similarly, I met my 'breaking point'. I felt upset, challenged, disappointment, and scarcity of time left to "retreat" before the week began. While AJ was content to lounge on the couch watching TV, I was resisting and feeling stuck in lack. We began to argue about the weekend and how we responded to it and allowed it to drive us even further apart.
Lying in my bedroom, feeling hurt and isolated, I listened to talk given by Lola Medicine Keeper as part of my mentor Sora Surya No's 21-day practice offering. Talk about DIVINE TIMING! Lola beautifully and gently shared that while it is the LAST THING SHE WANTS TO DO IN THE MOMENT, it is her practice to SOFTEN when she feels really triggered; to see what her body/mind/heart REALLY need in the moment and to honor the needs of those around her in a LOVING, GENTLE way. And though it was the last thing I wanted to do, I opened myself to trying this way of responding.
When I took the time to examine and understand what I desired in that moment, it wasn't to "be strong and independent", it wasn't to go "run it off"; what I wanted was for AJ to come hug me, tell me that everything was alright, that despite how I was feeling and had reacted to the weekend, that he loved me, and that it was ok to feel all of what I was feeling. THEN I TOOK IT A STEP FURTHER. Rather than staying in my room HOPING that AJ would make my fantasy a reality, I OFFERED IT TO HIM. I walked out to the living room, gave him a big hug and said, "I love you. And I want you to know that no matter how you are feeling about this weekend or me or the situation, it's all ok. I am here for you, and if there is anything you need from me, please let me know."
IMMEDIATE SHIFT. The ice melted; we both felt safe and open. He hugged me and loved me back and I fully felt and received it. We spent the rest of the evening feeling really connected, which was the WHOLE POINT of going to the cabin!
The practice of SOFTENING; simple, NOT EASY... AT FIRST, just like any other practice that runs counter to our habitual patterns of responding. But we hold the infinite capacity for change within us. It starts with SOFTENING TOWARD OURSELVES. When you feel especially triggered, can you PAUSE, BREATHE, and ask yourself "What do I need right now?" Perhaps a glass of cool water, a calming tea, a few rounds of cooling left-nostril or sitali breathing. Do your best to take responsibility for and balance your own energy. Allow yourself a few moments to soften (without running away) and articulate what you need. Then offer your softness to those around you and do your best to honor their needs without expectation. While the mind calls this GIVING, when offered from the heart, it also FEELS like RECEIVING; Love moves in both directions.
Finally, notice how you feel afterward. How does your body feel? Your energy? The space around you?
If this is a practice that you are working on or interesting in working on yourself, may you feel the LOVE and SUPPORT of myself and this community holding you.
PLEASE share your experiences as they move through you, and we'll continue to practice together.
With SO MUCH LOVE,