EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE
This morning I sat down to write my morning pages, a practice that I picked up many years ago from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. If you have never read this book I highly recommend it, no matter whether your aspirations are that of an artist, builder, tooth fairy or just someone who prizes fulfilment in life as your raison d’être.
Writing morning pages serves as a kind of mental laxative, purging you of all the muddling questions and worries that tend to swirl around in the mind. By writing with pen and paper – yes it’s a lot slower than bashing it out on a keyboard, but it allows you to process the thoughts, gaining clarity in the breathing spaces – your pen serves as a lasso tethering your worries and doubts to an anchor for observation and enquiry. It feels like you are emptying your head onto the paper in front of you, putting distance between you and your thoughts, making it easier to clear the fog in the light of day.
There may not be any obvious or dominant thoughts in your mind calling for the spotlight and that’s okay.
Then you begin with a gentle and frivolous meandering over the page about simply anything, such as what you did the day before, or how your knee feels or how the morning light appears. The point is not to force any focus but rather to just allow whatever is there to bubble up and emerge. What you’ll discover is that the ‘meandering’ tends to take on a direction of its own and before you know it, you’ll be on a journey to an unknown destination. Inevitably that destination holds a solution or an interesting suggestion or prompt.
I use spiral bound cheap A4 notebooks. Spiral bound because I don’t want to have to hold the book flat while I write, and cheap because the ones with fancy binding and covers seem to set a tone implying that the contents must live up to some standard or quality! That feels like pressure that would frown upon having really bad ‘off days’ where my writing may suggest that merely stringing three words together is a feat.
Not that the purpose of this exercise is to write beautifully in any way – it’s a purging of mental litter that could otherwise obscure your vision for the day ahead. And efficient purging requires practicality before beauty!
So, back to this morning….
The notebook brand that I am currently using has platitudes splashed across the cover in bold, bright colours. So though I see (read) them every morning, this morning, weirdly enough, I actually uttered a response! I could blame the long lockdown for the fact that I am now talking to notebook covers (instead of trees.)
The words on the current cover are:
“You will never have this day again so make it count.”
The words I blurted out were:
“I intend to!”
Although surprised at my outburst, I did feel pleased, yet I had no idea how I was going to make the day count. So I proceeded to write about it because as Joan Didion said, “I write to find out what I’m thinking…”
As I call my monthly sprinkle of words a Chat (not an essay) I am going to skip the thought/writing process that unfolded and jump to the discovery of my intention.
It was that of peace. I desired peace.
That may sound rather vague. Peace? Where? How? Martha Beck says, peace is our natural home and from where we are our most powerful and efficient. And I have experienced this, many times, but the gem of my intention which I excavated from the fog with my pen, was for peace to become more natural for me in the long term, so that I spend more of my waking hours in that zone rather than outside of it.
So now for the how.
Naturally it has to start from within me. Having peaceful scenes around me would be of no use if angst-inducing thoughts were running amok in my mind thereby distorting my perception of reality. And there’s the rub – the thoughts! While we cannot control what happens in life, we can control how we think about it.
Key to this process is the removal of resistance to what is.
Resistance keeps your focus either fixated on the past where you either wallow or rail about what has already happened, or, on the future where your hope (often laced with anxiety) is that something will or will not happen.
Here’s a lovely saying that I find brings swift release from these fixations, dissolving the tension caused from dissension:
“Everything is as it should be.”
Say it out aloud and see how you feel.
In the absence of resistance you are accepting, accepting of what is. This does not mean that you morph into a passive blob allowing unexecuted choices to wash over you. It means that in the present moment you totally accept it as it is, without peppering your internal narrative with words such as shouldn’t, should have, could have, if only … and so on.
As Byron Katie says, if you argue with reality you will lose 100% of the time.
Radical acceptance leaves you open and free to make a choice in moving forward – make a change if you can or substitute, walk away, or accept.
A good question to help with realigning your thoughts is:
Where am I?
Are you in the present? And, are you in your own business?
These questions strengthen mindfulness which is the precursor to peace.
That is how my peace-increasing process has begun, and I couldn’t think of a better way to make my day count.
As John Lennon sang:
“Give peace a chance.”