As I sit here in my dressing gown in front of the fire, loaded with a nasty cold, surrounded by used tissues and with the rain pouring down outside this Sunday morning, it would be easy to start to feel a little sorry for myself. After all, part of the reason that we moved to the Dordogne was to get away from the dark, wet Irish winters and, to be honest, it feels as if it hasn’t stopped raining here for about 10 days. On top of the yucky weather, Eoin and I have been loaded with this cold/flu thing for a week now so, in the brief moments that it has stopped raining, we haven’t really had enough energy to go out and enjoy the countryside.
Of course, I have to remind myself that all of this is just my negative perception this morning and that there have been dry spells, the occasional bit of sunshine and, despite our coughing and spluttering, we still managed to have lots of fun with Eoin’s brother and his wife who came to visit us last week.
Have you ever noticed that when your body’s immune system is struggling, your mental/emotional immune system is also lowered and negative thoughts and perceptions can sneak in much more easily than when you are feeling strong and healthy?
I am blessed with a “strong constitution” and have never had the challenge of serious illness. At times like this when my energy levels are much lower than usual I get frustrated and impatient very quickly. I want to be out and about exploring and house-hunting and this weekend we had three invitations from new friends here to socialise. We have had to cancel two of them.
I feel my general frustration about all sorts of things raising its head today especially the length of time it is taking us to find our new home here. Everything flowed so quickly and smoothly in order for us to leave Ireland and arrive here 3 months ago but, despite about 20 hours a week dedicated house-hunting, the dream home still hasn’t manifested. My impatience is now mixed with questions like “What if we aren’t meant to be here?“, “What if we mis-read all the signs that we thought were so clear when we decided to move here?” and “What if what we are looking for doesn’t exist within our budget?”
I watch my crazy mind as it goes from frustration to impatience to doubt and, if I allow it to, a touch of despair and despondency. It is like a fast moving downward spiral of negativity which could easily see me landing in the dark pit of depression which is a place that I really hate.
And yet there is a still small voice inside me which says “All is well” and “This too shall pass” and “Just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.”
The reality is that, over the last few months, we have let go off nearly everything which is familiar to us and we have arrived in a new land, with a different language. In addition to this, our income streams have temporarily gone very quiet (not unusual in our line of work). Socially, whilst it has been pretty easy for me to make new friends here, because of the language barrier, the same is not happening so easily for Eoin so he is very dependent on me for company. We are renting a lovely house but it is not ours, is pretty cold during these winter months and is not at all what we would choose for ourselves long-term. We put our first offer on a house which we liked a lot last week but it was rejected and our current budget won’t stretch to it so we have had to walk away.
All these small challenges are fine on their own but when you then put illness and shitty weather on top of them it could be easy to get dragged down.
However, we are both old and wise enough to recognise that we are in a period of transition right now. All the space and time which has opened up as a result of the massive letting go which we did this year was always going to challenge us at some point. We are redefining who we are and what our life is all about. In many ways we have created a great big void and as we move into the ‘festive period’ with ZERO family/friend commitments, we are also going through another period of inner transformation. Our ego-minds want the security of finding our new home so that they can start to plan, project into the future and know what is happening next. But, in reality, we have NO IDEA what is going to happen next or even why we are really here (both in the Dordogne and in the bigger picture!!). In 2017 we were called to surrender the familiar and, with it, many of our concepts of who we are and what life is about for us. This is BIG STUFF!
My spiritual teacher, Miranda Macpherson, once said”The spiritual path is not for wimps.” As we face the void of the next couple of weeks and the uncertainty of the months ahead, I am reminded of this phrase on a regular basis. The process of ego-relaxation, as she calls it, can bring up a lot of stuff for us to look at. I watch all my normal control mechanisms trying to kick in – get busy, do more house-hunting, do more marketing so I can make more money, buy more food so I can make more meals and eat more, clean the house, drink more wine, write this blog, make plans for 2018 – and I see the scrabbling of my ego-mind trying to avoid the void or perceived emptiness that so terrifies it.
It is this perception of emptiness or separation which the advertisers thrive on. This need that we all have to fill our days with activity and our homes with stuff. It is why we try to fill ourselves up with alcohol, drugs, chocolate, shopping, work, sex or whatever your preferred addiction is.
More, more, more, more……
Because we are programmed to believe that this moment is not enough and who we are is not enough.
And so for me, as we move towards the Winter Solstice and the ‘festive period’ my commitment is to dive right into that scary void with as much non-doing as possible. Less, less, less, less……
My days will be filled with meditation, yoga, mindful walks (even in the rain) and tantra practice. At a time of year which is normally about over-indulgence and over-consuming, I am going to be doing exactly the opposite and to practice diving into the emptiness and making friends with it for once and for all.
Why? Because my inner guidance is calling me to do so and I have learned to listen carefully to it. But mostly because I know that there is reason that we have been gifted this transition period of quiet and stillness during a time of the year when hibernation is natural and I am curious to see what will emerge from it. It feels like a time for reflection, introspection and the final, deep letting go of 2017 which has, after all, been a year full of letting go for me.
And, of course, the void doesn’t really exist. It is just a figment of the ego-mind, the bogey-man under the bed that you sometimes have to get down on your knees and look for before you realise that it was all an illusion after all!
However you are spending the next few weeks I pray that it brings you peace and much joy and that you are surrounded by love.
Happy Winter Solstice.