Last Tuesday we were riding our bikes in gorgeous, 70-degree spring weather. On Wednesday we woke up to a foot of snow and a power outage. There’s a saying in Colorado that goes, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait fifteen minutes.” This is true every day of the year, but it’s never more true than in spring.
I find the temperamental weather here both fascinating and disconcerting. Growing up in Los Angeles, where it’s 65-70 degrees practically every day of the year, I came to rely on the consistent weather as a source of comfort. If I went to school wearing shorts, I knew I would come home wearing shorts. But here, we can leave for the day wearing shorts and come home wearing full winter gear.
Yet when I drop into the teaching, I know that living with these weather patterns has furthered by ability to deal with the disorienting ambiguity that defines being human. When anxiety flares up and someone asks, “Am I with the right partner?” (see last week’s post), they’re trying to sidestep this ambiguity and seek a guarantee for success. Nature teaches us to stand as solid as a tree in the midst of the fluctuations of wind and sky. This, of course, is a metaphor for our inner worlds: if we think we can rely on our thoughts and feelings as consistent sources of truth and guidance, we’re setting ourselves up for a very insecure existence.
Just because you think it doesn’t mean it’s true.
Feeling aren’t always a reliable source of guidance.
These two phrases, combined with the messages I teach about love and relationships, form the basis of much of my work.
So when I hear, I had the thought, “I don’t love him.” That must mean it’s true. Or ” I don’t feel anything for my partner anymore. That must mean I don’t love her,” I know we’re working in the territory of dismantling faulty wiring about how we regard our thoughts and feelings. Some of these thoughts need a big dose of truth-water (Love is not only a feeling; it’s largely a choice, an act of will, and an intention), and most of them need the attention of a mature mind that can learn to sift out the faulty messages and replace them with the truth. Above all, the anxiety sufferer needs to learn, like the Colorado resident, how not to attach to every thought and feeling that runs through the landscape of the mind.
Once this layer of the work is addressed (the process of which I teach in depth in my Break Free From Relationship Anxiety E-Course), I’m often asked, “If we can’t rely on our thoughts and feelings to determine what’s real and true, what can we rely on?” The next step is to learn to cultivate a deeper sense of knowing, to connect to the space between the thoughts and the place beneath the feelings. We must learn to cultivate and rely on something solid and unwavering. Some people call this place refuge. Others call it higher self. I call it home.
We’re conditioned in the culture to think of home as something outside of ourselves. We cling to illusions of consistency, like the weather, as anchors for our inner world. We believe that if we can answer the litany of intrusive thoughts that parade through the brain, we will find peace. The only place we will find true peace is when we learn to rest in our inner home.
I have some suggestions for where you’ll find home, but let’s start with where you will not find home.
You won’t find home in Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
You won’t find home watching television or mindless movies.
You won’t find home at a bar, in marijuana, at the shopping mall, or in the refrigerator.
You won’t find home at a loud party.
You won’t find it in screens of any kind.
People find home in many different places. Some people find home in nature, while sitting at the water’s edge or in the middle of a silent forest. Some people find home while playing or listening to music. Some people find home at the art museum, standing in front of a piece that sings yes to every cell in their body. Some people find home while writing in their journal, connecting to the deepest part of their psyche called soul. Some people find home through a dedicated meditation practice.
What I know beyond doubt is that we all have access to this place called home. Every single person on the planet has free access to an inner sanctuary more beautiful than any church, synagogue, temple, or mosque. When we remember to cultivate our relationship to this space – and it does require a consistent practice of cultivation – we walk into a garden where the roses of wisdom can tolerate a spring snow, a place that remains changeless even amidst the abrupt winds of change.