After the ecstasy the laundry
I've been given some quite powerful mirrors this week (you know, the kind that are so 'in your face' that you can't avoid looking into them - and stop you in your tracks for a while?). If I were to define it in a phrase, I'd say it's been an 'after the ecstasy the laundry' kind of week (the title of that book, by US Buddhist teacher, Jack Kornfield - which I've never got round to reading - has always resonated with me... in fact, if I'm honest, I'd say it's been a bit of a life theme).Bliss is all very well (and it's particularly easy for me to be in ecstatic inner states; infact I spend half my time there) - but on some levels, it can take us away from the detail, from the nitty-gritty of life. Which is often, in my experience, where the real work is done. (After all, we're in this physical body for a reason - and we're of no earthly good to anyone or anything if we're not inhabiting it, but off in a dreamlike state somewhere).Anyway, as I scrubbed off the burnt-on food from the bottom of a saucepan this week - I have a talent for burning pans, but this time I really excelled myself and nearly burnt the house down (I'm exaggerating, but you get the picture...), it felt very much like I was dealing with the 'burnt saucepan inside'. I had gone away to do some writing and hadn't realised I'd turned the hob on under what was to be a fine soya milk chai latte (how can you do that?) and when I got back, the pan was fused to the cooker! I was so shocked and ashamed that hot tears sprang immediately to my eyes.A little earlier that day - which was all the more poignant for me because of the timing, a dear friend had given me some rather unexpected, direct feedback about my behaviour - out of love, as it happens, but pretty disarming, all the same. And together, the two incidents really got my attention: 'Wake up, Tonya! Something's got to change!'So as I scrubbed the burnt-on debris from the bottom of the pan, I reflected on what was really being fed back to me here. We all need to do the 'housekeeping' from time to time. Because in doing so, we're clearing up our inner house, too. And the more detail we do it with, the better. Sometimes, our 'blindspots' can stop us seeing the dust that's gathered in one corner of our psyche, or the cobwebs in another - and we need someone else in our lives, or some incident, to 'point it out' for us (and the drama with which that happens is often, I find, proportional to the severity and longevity of our blindspot).And our job in all this is to recognise the mirror, when it comes, look into it to allow it to transform - to unfold deeper aspects of ourselves. And to be grateful for the mirror. We're being given a gift - the gift of seeing an aspect of ourselves reflected back to us. And it can be enormously helpful. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that there's a point on this so-called 'spiritual path' where we can go no further until we have dealt with them.And this learning for me was reflected back to me again in an informal coaching session I had this week. The person concerned, someone who has had issues all his life because of a resistance to fully 'landing' in the physical on this planet, had found himself in a situation where he was having to do some rather menial work - clearing out a chicken shed to be exact. And every time he came to do the task, the 'earthly' aspects of the job - the smell; the cold which he felt on his hands on early morning shifts; the lack of mental stimulation, would all induce the impulse in him to escape the situation (and 'flee his body'). I suggested to him (drawing on my personal experience, which I shared with him) that the opportunity in the situation was perhaps, instead of trying to escape the experience, to find a way of really feeling the sheer physicality of the experience - instead of numbing himself - and hence transforming it (and potentially finding a doorway through to into a more surrendered, expanded state of consciousness). This was a bit of a Eureka moment for him. And of course I wouldn't have been so 'hot' on my counsel in this situation, had I not had these powerful wake-up calls myself. Top marks, Universe!!!