There have been several times along the way though when I think, once I cross this next hurdle, I'll have it all figured out. :) Anyone else out there have that thought too?
It's never how it works. There is always more. There has to be. That is life and living it to the fullest is a full lifetime's work. If we got to see everything and get all the answers we'd feel like Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita when Krishna reveals it all to him - completely overwhelmed and begging for it to go back to the way it was. We have to take our progress one step at a time; we can't go faster than what we are ready to handle. When we get ahead of ourselves or stop doing the underlying work, any progress will either be halted, back slide, or will be overwhelming to our system. It's a delicate balance.
Here's an example of what not to do. I share it with the hope that you learn from my mistake.
A pattern that I've carried with me for as long as I can remember is holding stress in my neck and shoulders. Many of us share this pattern. For me, my system decided that it was time for me to break this pattern. So at any moment that I feel an ounce of stress, now I immediately feel it in my neck. My solution? Avoid stress! I'm not even sure how I thought, in this world, that avoiding stress could be possible, and I laugh at myself now for being so foolish. The point is we can't just avoid a situation to break the pattern. We can delay the work of breaking the pattern by avoiding the situation, but that doesn't mean the pattern is no longer there. I can just hear the universe saying "nice try Jenn."
The work is to walk through it – not avoid it. Sometimes it is hard to not just run the other way, but the reward is taking it head on. You won't ever change the pattern by heading in the opposite direction. You will only stall your progress. You have to look the fear in the eyes and then take a giant step forward. I know I've spoken about this before, but this is where all the ground work you've done comes in: courage, vulnerability, and awareness.
As I shared in A pattern in the breaking, for the process for reforming our old groove patterns (samskaras) into new ones, here's some further insight into the take action step. I want to share some examples of shifting patterns in action.
In the moment when you normally run and hide and breakdown with tears alone, instead stay and cry with the person. In the moment when your habit is to scream and belittle the other person, pause and look inside and see why you’re hurting and want to respond in this manner. When you shift your response, you automatically shift the other person's reaction, because now the situation is different.
You can even call a "time out" from whatever is going on and ask the other person for some space to sort out what you are feeling. It helps to have a willing partner to assist with this, but you can do this in your own awareness, even if you don't.
Pay attention to what your body is feeling in these moments. Like the tension in my neck makes me aware that I am feeling even one iota of stress, your body is sending you signals all the time. Learn to turn in and notice them.
Another great way to look for help with identifying your patterns is by paying attention to your dreams. Our dreams reveal so much to us if we are paying attention. Those recurring dreams you have are revealing a pattern for you. Dreams are a way to get into our unconscious where we can't get in our awake state. Keeping a dream journal or at least spending some time lying in bed going over your dreams each morning is a good way to start. Oftentimes, if we have several dreams in one night, they are communicating the same message to us. If you haven't tried keeping track, check it out and see what you learn.
So does it ever feel comfortable when going through these changes? Yes, and no. Change is always uncomfortable on some level; it's this discomfort that, well, makes us want to change in the first place. If it wasn't uncomfortable, we'd never be motivated do it. The comfort comes in knowing that we've been here before. We've made it through previous transitions and we will make it through this one, too. And if we've gone through it before then we know what we will find on the other side - more of our true self shining brighter than we were before.
I hope these ideas and examples help you along your way as they have me! And as always, remember to be compassionate with yourself along the way. For me, learning compassion and keeping a gentle heart for myself has been a critical pattern that I'm re-grooving.
Om mani padme hum
Oh, and never, ever give up the dream to fly with the butterflies.