What a remarkable time in retreat for the past 3 days. A beautiful group of inquirers, coming from far and wide, several of whom joined literally the night before.
Funny how things work out. We wound up being full….Or, we could have added one more, but close enough.
Five days before the retreat, I thought we needed to double the number, and one person canceled. The attendance was going in the WRONG direction.
Oh no! This is bad!
It’s fascinating the way things unfold. We’ll think we want it to go like X, but it goes like Y. We want that person to say A but they say B. We despair because we received Q and we thought we needed R. We wait for C but only D appears.
And this is only when it comes to uncomfortable outcomes.
We can also have preconceived ideas, plans, or expectations and get pleasantly surprised. We then feel excited, or good, or delighted, or thrilled.
I thought it would be E but it was F. WOW!! Good news! I am so lucky! Fantastic!
The thing is, with either one of these perspectives and how it happens to unfold (“good” or “bad”)….
….I use a certain outcome to make me happy, or make me sad.
In both situations, I’m hanging on the Way It’s Gone to mean I feel good, or I feel bad.
That’s putting myself in a pretty dependent place. It matters very deeply the way it goes. I’m a victim to the way Reality moves. Good or Bad.
No wonder I’ve gotten so nervous, worried, hand-wringing anxious, upset, troubled or less-than-relaxed in the past when it comes to something like a retreat happening.
I’ll be happy if it’s full (or almost full). I’ll be disappointed if it isn’t.
We can do The Work on this very powerful awareness, that the outcome can be “good” or “bad” to any situation, anywhere, ever.
Find one you can relate to. You’ll be really happy if it goes like Y. You’ll be unhappy if it goes like X.
Job interviews, relationship commitments, divorce, marriage, illness, a diagnosis, moving to a new place, making money, traveling somewhere, a court sentence, a major decision, buying something, trading for something, a law passing, a voting outcome, selling something, enrolling in something, hosting an event.
There’s an outcome that’s good. There’s another outcome that’s bad.
Let’s do The Work.
Whatever happens, there’s a good way for this to go, and a bad way. In my case, the retreat should be full. It shouldn’t be sparsely attended.
Ten days before this retreat, I had the image of working with only two people for the entire 2.5 days. It wouldn’t be worth it. I’d lose money. It wouldn’t be fun. It wouldn’t be rewarding like so many retreats are. I should have…..Breitenbush should have….This is too hard and impossible.
Images of all this in my head.
Is it true it will go that disappointing way?
Am I sure it would be “bad” if there were only two people and the images came true?
Am I sure it’s terrible if I hear a difficult diagnosis, learn about a change of plans, receive surprising information, all those things on my “bad” list….can I be absolutely sure they would be bad, if they happened?
Many tough things have happened, and with self inquiry–even prior to knowing The Work–those events shaped me in some deeply powerful ways. They were useful. For all I know, they were required.
I really can’t know if it’s bad when something happens, even when I’m believing it is.
I can’t know at all if working with two people would be wrong, awkward, difficult, a loss. And beyond that, I don’t even know if I will in fact only have two people.
Turns out I didn’t.
How do you react when you believe it needs to go like X in order for you to be happy?
If the stakes are high, the anxiety is through the roof. I’m doing everything I can to push, force, cajole, make the thing go the way I want.
I pray, I wish, I hope. I want “Reality” to go MY WAY. If it does, it means I’m favored. If it doesn’t, it means I’m unlucky or did something wrong, or thought something wrong.
I see images of all the bad ways it could go. I see images of all the good ways it could go. I vote for the good ways, only.
Maybe I feel desperate.
But who would you be without this dreadful story that something must go the way you see it needs to go in order to be happy?
It’s almost like a cartoon frying pan hitting the mind. Something stops. Like….what??!
You mean….? if I didn’t think Y was better than X or B was better than A?
Who would I be without the belief I should have a certain number of people in this upcoming retreat weekend? Who would I be without the belief it will be bad if there’s only two?
What if I just really didn’t know what was best for myself, for the world, for the other people, for reality, for the universe?
(I notice, I couldn’t possibly know).
Without the thought there’s a good way for this to go….I find my sense of humor. I am filled with wonder and what this will be like. I’m excited to see what happens. I’m aware I’m not in charge of reality (LOL). I do what excites me in the moment, with a feeling of joy.
Without the belief, I write about the upcoming weekend. I share my thrill of The Work. I write to a few people I know who might be interested, or know others who are. I feel like this is a fabulous game, a fun challenge, an adventurous wager. And I rest and attend to other things as well. I relax.
The feeling in the body, without knowing how anything will unfold and yet trusting I’ll roll with it, however it goes, is sooooo brilliant and restful, awake and buzzingly alive all at once. Oooh, hands clapping. The future is a discovery.
Turning the thought around: If it goes that “bad” way…it will be fantastic! (In my case, two people for 2.5 days).
AMAZING. This could be so true! I’d get close, intimate, deep connection with two very sincere inquirers. What a gift. We’d go far, wide, and thorough. I’d have fewer supplies and papers and notebooks to organize, and snacks, and tea. We’d get to do things impossible for a larger group.
I see examples of life going “badly” and how each one of these events or experiences has brought such awe-inspiring insights to my life: cancer, divorce, losing all my money, losing my house, getting betrayed or cut off. All of it. From ALL OF IT I received gifts.
Turning the thought around again: Only in my thinking does it mean something “bad”. Only in my mind is there bad and good.
“Whatever it takes for you to find your freedom, that’s what you’ve lived. Not one ingredient more or less….You go with inquiry into darkness, and find only light. And now you can see, even when you’ve been to the depths of hell, that’s all that was ever there, ever.” ~ Byron Katie in Loving What Is
Turns out, in this situation, what was necessary for me, for others, for this past weekend in the little Goldilocks cottage in Lake Forest Park, Washington was a full last-minute group of incredible people coming from remarkably long distances to sit together, dance together, inquire together, laugh together, cry together, listen to poetry together and discover abundance and love together while questioning our thinking.
At least, this is my story.
But I know, it isn’t really True.
And it’s Absolutely True.
The greatest gift is loving the way it goes.
(Which doesn’t mean I have to like it).
Except for my mental pictures, my thoughts, my imaginings, my anticipations, my regrets, my ideas about right and wrong, the way I say “my” here for this list….
….I love exactly what happened.
I care for the way it went, and for every person, the furniture in the room, the weather (which was pure sunshine, strangely enough, for the past three days), the questions I received, the thoughts I experienced, the gorgeous eyes, smiles, the curiosity I saw, the feelings appearing and fading away, the intensity, the fear, the joy I witnessed, the dear faces of every single person I encountered in the past three days (and EVER).
Every person showing up for me. They are me. I can relate to everything they shared. And a deep profound care for them, and all things.
A little glimpse into truly “loving what is”.