FAST WISDOM™ NEWSLETTER
by Lonner Holden
Welcome to the inaugural issue of Fast Wisdom™, the newsletter of my Holden Healing Studio practice. Each issue will explore a theme of living approached in the context of healing. A simple Jin Shin Juytsu® Healing Hands Self-Care exercise, as well as a Restorative Nature Practice™ activity to practice which relate to the newsletter theme of the month will be included. Nutrition and health tips too, so you can live a happier and more vital life infused with well-being, improved health and more effective and empowered recovery.
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THANKSGIVING: Gratitude as the Gift of Befriending the Unknown
Autumn . Breath . Grief . Change . Space
Recently my partner and I faced a challenge in our relationship. Over the past three years, our “relationship” skill set consistently contributed to deepening our connection. Suddenly, we found ourselves at the point where our skills were no longer effective in negotiating conflict, and even worse, our efforts to resolve misunderstandings only seemed to intensify the problem. We, according to that very eloquent and useful cliche’, “hit the wall.”
You know what this is like. You, others or the world are not meeting your expectations. And even worse, your previously successful approaches are now obsolete or ineffective. You feel helpless, frustrated or critical; perhaps you become depressed. What was possible before has disintegrated into stark impossibility.
Expectations are often a mechanism for avoiding an underlying fear. A fear that emerged because you once were vulnerable in the present and a disappointment was so great that you decided to protect yourself from the same disappointment in the future. Protective expectation inhibits moving into deeper connection with self, others and the world as it clutters our minds, closes our hearts, and tenses our bodies against openness to other options or possibilities. We resist change from what we expect should happen. Protective expectation makes us over-actively approach every situation pre-stressed towards the limited possibilities of disappointment, loss and lack of confidence. The result is that our physiological functions become distressed and we set ourselves up for a myriad of griefs and of feeling “stuck” over and over again.
Long ago, comprehensive expectation was a logical necessity for survival. As hunter-gatherers, we were expected by our tribe to hone our skills, and to become masterfully and consistently effective. And today, as back then, healthy expectation allows us to function, feel motivated, be creative, network with others, and get breakfast on the able, gas in the car. We need a hearty vocabulary of “knowing” what can be expected to operate in all our affairs. Yet when protective expectation alters “can be” into “should be” our attachment to the outcome pre-stresses us in relationship to the situation. When this form of expectation becomes the primary influence of how we adapt to our ever-changing environment, we become less vulnerable to the nuances of ourselves, others, the world and to nature. This impairs our resilience, because the changes contradict what we expect.
It can become worse! A chronic state of sustained protective expectation may give rise to a chronic anxiety that is inherently isolating. One can become prone to impatience, and feel less connected. Breathing becomes shallower as one anticipates whether the results of one’s expectations will come to fruition or failure. For example, from a mind-body philosophy perspective one could define asthma as a condition that emerges when fear of disappointment holds one hostage until one is given permission to exhale by some kind of approval - internally or externally.
A more resilient relationship with expectation is to befriend the unknown. To befriend our vulnerability can allow an easier shift in adapting to an ever changing landscape. We can respond with more resilience when someone close to us changes - expands or grows, or becomes ill and requires more than expected care from us. Additionally, the positive benefits of relaxing and deepening our breath, normalizing our blood pressure, de-stressing our immune system and digestion processes are great benefits as well. As important and necessary for getting by in the material world as ‘knowing’ is, ‘not knowing’ is at least as important in the world of healing. Accepting change is the healthier and happier option to resisting it.
So in “hitting the wall”, my partner and I are left with a choice. We can ease our familiar and formerly reliable assumptions to open to the unknown future; or we can continue repeating hitting the wall - as if that is a viable choice for living a vital relationship. We have agreed to take up residency in the shared and individual compassionate refuge of the unknown, to relax into a new acceptance of not knowing and thus a deeper and authentic way of being together exploring new possibilities of communication as the life journey shifts and changes.
Living a vital life requires “hitting the wall” on occasion. But if one is to grow, heal and evolve into deeper personal freedom, relaxing protective expectation is the lesser risk to succumbing to the inhibitions that prevent suspending it. Accepting what is not known requires a certain courage. The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke addressed the relationship between fear and acceptance of the unknown so beautifully when, in one of his letters to the young poet Kappus he wrote, “The only courage that is demanded of us [is] courage for the most strange... [The] world has its terrors, they are our terrors; has it abuses, those belong to us... we must try to love them. ...perhaps all the dragons of our lives are ... only waiting to see us both beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.”
Albert Einstein once stated that, “You cannot solve a problem with the same thinking that created it; you must go outside the problem to find the solution.” Accepting the unknown is to go “outside the problem” of a previous way of being that has become obsolete. One arrives in a landscape of increased possibility. Usually one does not find the solution to problem there so much as the solution finds one.
My favorite poem expressing this is the poem “Lost” by David Wagoner:
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
Paradoxically, and perhaps even mysteriously, when we wholeheartedly enter into a trusting relationship with the unknown we become much more present to just how things are. A sense of completeness about simply “what is” manifests as our new perspective. It is almost like we get found by the mysterious and perfect “now,” or Wagoner’s “Here,” and gratitude for all of it rises up from within us.
In the art of animal tracking “hitting the wall” happens when one loses the trail of sign left by the individual creature one is tracking or trailing. The intention of the tracker then must be transferred to an internal state of inquiry - of entering into a communion with the unknown. My good friend and fellow tracker Cecily McGaw, a Senior Health Educator by profession, reflected eloquently on part of her experience to the rest of us in the group after a recent tracking excursion to the headwaters of the Eel River of Northern California,
“As Dorothy says in The Wizard of Oz, ‘If you can’t find it in your own backyard, you never lost it in the first place.’ My problem was my seeking. All I really needed to do was shift from seeking to being present. If one is always seeking, one will never reach peace, contentment, connection or whatever one seeks, it will always be elusive.
This sense of connection is what I love about tracking. Tracking is a meditation. It invites me to be present with whatever my focus is - a track, a scratch on a tree or a piece of scat. The openness to be curious, to live in the unknown, to rest in the expansiveness that connects all living and non-living beings - animals, clouds, trees, birds, rocks, soil, humanity, nature, space - allows me to be that which I seek. When I drop in..., I am part of the oneness of all things; I am not alone.”
Autumn is a quieting and condensing down and bringing in of the earth’s energies. Light and warmth; sound and activity are giving way to shadow and cooling; quiet and stillness. In these contrasts we can more easily sense the essence in which change occurs - the essence of space, of emptiness. Transitioning from the last season’s diet and the releasing of what before sustained life - of the old ways of thinking that nourished us before.
Autumn is the assigned time of year to store up Summer’s harvest and store away summer’s tools. Space now occupies the tree where opaque curtains of leaves enclosed the sweet aroma of the canopy only a few weeks before. One can see the sky through the naked web of branches and feel the breath of the forest now. It is a time of year appropriate for practicing befriending the unknown, for the possibility of being witnessed as whole and worthy by what wants our love, while walking alone in unfamiliar woods.
- What is your one most frequent protective expectation of yourself?
- How do you define how the world should look by meeting that expectation?
- What are the sensations you feel when you are focused in that particular expectation?
- How does the world/others respond to that expectation of yours? Does it/they move toward you, away from you, do nothing?
- Practice suspending that expectation a few times in the same situation you are familiar with exercising it. What sensations arise? Pleasant or unpleasant just allow the sensations to gently pass without acting on them.
- Give thanks to your willingness and ability to remain spacious as your feelings move through you.
JIN SHIN JYUTSU® HEALING HANDS SELF-CARE:
- Hold each ring finger one at a time for a few minutes. The ring finger helps breathing - exhalation and inhalation. The lungs are the organ in the body that represent spaciousness. When we enhance breathing deeply, we enhance our experience of spaciousness and are more resilient to change.
RESTORATIVE NATURE PRACTICE™:
- What color and texture is the sky in the morning, afternoon, evening?
- How does the landscape shape the sky - the trees, buildings, hills, shoreline?
- Observe the empty space between things; follow the edge of these things where they meet the sky, the horizon.
More Info »
NEXT MONTH: Winter Solstice; Transforming Outer Darkness into Inner Light
Coconut Oil is a super food. I use it on my toast, in hot cereal, in smoothies, some cooking. Coconut oil is a super-saturated fat nourishing organs, skin and the brain; a rich source of energy and is anti-viral! Add it to your diet and experience the benefits.
- November 29: Yogaworks Benefit: Doctors Without Borders (www.yogaworks.com)
- November 27-30: Thanksgiving Silent Retreat Restorative Nature Practice™ Trek, Crissy Field, San Francisco to Pearce Point, Point Reyes
- November 30: Marin County Tracking Club, Point Reyes (www.prts.me/mtc.html)
- December 2,9: Healing Hands Self-Care Intro, San Francisco
- December 13,14: Wilderness First Responder Recertification, San Francisco
- December 20: Restorative Nature Practice™, Marin County
- December 28: Marin County Tracking Club, Point Reyes
- January 6,13,20,27 & February 3,10: Healing Hands Self-Care series, San Rafael
- January 24: Restorative Nature Practice™, Marin County
- January 25: Marin County Tracking Club, Point Reyes
- January 30,31, February 1,2: Intensive: Jin Shin Jyutsu, San Rafael
See events on calendar »
October: Into the Wild Journey: Grand Canyon