Sunday, July 6, 2008
A Strategy of Calm
Practice makes perfect, nor near-perfect, or somewhat-perfect. Whatever. Practice anything and your brain will cut the neural pathways of whatever you're practicing nice and deep. Practice makes habit, both "good" and "bad."
Once upon a time (seems like another life) my life strategy centered around ambitions to pop every one of my neurotic zits. I believed in so doing I could eventually clean out my angry heart. My goodness. In order to conquer my anger, I believed I needed to gather more power for myself (as if we humans aren't already so powerful!) Though on paper these seemed like good ideas, in practice this toxic brew of strategies brought with it even more unhappiness than I experienced in childhood - God forbid! But it did. All my heroic efforts to expell my demons with jacked-up personal power backfired completely. Instead of clearing my black heart, all that fussing and fighting became an invocation, inviting in more dark energy. Can you imagine how much I suffered? And all for what?
These days I am practicing peace from the inside out. It's working! Not saying that I feel peaceful 24/7. The old habit of anxiety is a well worn path in my neural network. Its true, too, that anger is one of the few acceptable emotions in the culture of DC, so at times it's hard to resist blowing my top. But I'm learning how to notice when the mean reds come up. Next step, ask myself what's going on. Then I ask myself, Is this worth getting all worked up about? Nine out of ten times, the answer is no. Fantastic!
I was even able to remain calm and steady yesterday during a visit to Takoma Park, not my favorite place on the planet (maybe because of how miserable I was when I lived there, maybe because of the sanctimonious tone of its citizens, maybe just because it's a suburb and suburbs creep me out - who knows?) Feeling calm in Takoma Park is a big deal for me, a sign of good things.
Calm is an excellent habit to cultivate. I love being able to remember, much more often than I used to, that one of my birthrights as a human being is the ability to choose how I experience my life. Calm begets peace and peace is what I'm after for the last chapters of this lifetime.
Shalom, ya'll. Shalom!