I found myself wallowing in doubt a short while the other day. Really, who am I to teach a workshop titled Cultivate Being? What do I know? I should be teaching the alternative, the one called Cultivate Distraction. There’s where my expertise lies. Besides, the last time I held a multiple day retreat was 2014 at Harbin, before it was lost to flames.
But as I wallowed, a persistent voice begged to chime in. Bella, it murmured, why wouldn’t it be you? You are poised at the portal where being looms as the final frontier. Certainly I have cultivated self-observation, recognizing my behavior somewhat objectively. An ability to witness myself in action has led to glistening moments of self-understanding. Albeit in fits and starts. Insights that consistently deliver me to thresholds of change, of transformation, of making a shift.
I’ve felt how staying present, resting in awareness will move me off the transom and open the door. Destiny persistently prods me from distraction, points my nose to the here and now and says “this is what you need to deal with.” Real time experience, though I may not like it, though it be inconvenient, generally gifts me exactly what I need. Time and again.
Warning: 5Rhythms geek-iness for next bit. In the best of scenarios, life moves us through a cycle illuminated by the rhythms. We’re born to meld and flow with the earthy maternal a few short years. Then we individuate a spell via the fire of staccato: learn to love another, set boundaries, play by the rules. Puberty initiates chaos and we can spiral in this energetic vortex for years. In hindsight, that is how it was for me.
It appeared I’d exited adolescence, dropped into maturity. There were decades of incredible and all-consuming marriage and children and professional development. O.K….I did flirt with rebellion, did some crazy
s—t, had some raucous adventures. But you know what? I was basically a good girl adhering to my childhood programming. Years went by. Sometimes when we’re stuck, the shadow-y stuff is what finally gets our attention. I careened toward mid-life crisis suffering an ever-diminishing ability to control life and an increasingly painful confusion.
At fifty I began to dance in earnest. The presence and exquisite awareness cultivated in consistent practice lifted me off this festering threshold and opened the door to overdue change. Thus began ten glorious years of chaotically lyrical transformation. Years of surrender, years of letting go, years of exploring what maturity really had in store for my gifts. I rode this turbulent wave to the shore of a destiny very different than I’d imagined. A melding of personal, creative and professional…no part held separate from the others.
Over the last ten years, my soul has kept ripening. Albeit in fits and starts. Trusting my gut self, loving my undefended self, letting go into living life just as I am. No abject apology, no crippling doubt, no shame. Mostly contented peace, deeply profound gratitude. I find myself poised on the cusp of the final rhythm, stillness. Which is what (being the fifth in a series) Cultivate Being is about. I’ve lived through so much to arrive at this moment. Maybe I do know something of this territory.
Perhaps we cultivate being when we simply cultivate living. Living with awareness through the wave of a lifetime. Being fully present to all the painful, unexpected, not-in-the-plan stuff, we learn what is essential. That we are not our appearance, our emotions, our thoughts, our personality. That we are not some strategy for coping with life. That being in alignment, being authentic is an expression of what’s underneath all that drivel. When life is free of apology, bitterness, blame and shame we walk a path paved with experience-derivative truth. And doubt shows up as an aspect of that truth. But we carry on anyway and cultivate being in order to live from our essence. There comes a time when the main thing left is to cultivate being. I have been so blessed.