We gathered for the Befriending Yourself: Spring Meditation Retreat in Berkeley Springs, WV last weekend like students of spring in the nature that we are as well as nature all around us. We turned to the element of wood, our revered teacher for the season, and asked: "What can we learn from you about growing into who we are?"
As we brought attention to our own experience, we found that one of the signature sensations of spring is discomfort. While we practiced being with it and using acupressure as well as mindful tools to support ourselves, I couldn't help but inquire why... why does it feel like so much discomfort is involved with growth?
I took this question out with me to an early morning meditation on the bench in the picture above, just steps away from our cabin. I looked at the trees all around me and wondered if they feel pain. When the growing gets tough, what do the trees do?
They seemed to whisper in response. In the hush of the morning, in the soft drip-drop of rain, in the rising sing-song of birds, the trees seemed to say: we just keep on growing. Well, I thought, so do we! As I sat there listening, I felt how the energy to grow is an impulse. It's innate. We are a constantly evolving organism. Our cells regenerate continuously. Our brains build new pathways all the time. Our bodies are renewed with every breath. We are intelligently designed for growth!
So much of what feels uncomfortable to us humans is not the growing itself but the departure from the familiar. Familiar feels comfortable. Familiar feels well-known. All this newness of growing feels risky. We haven't tried it before. We don't know if we'll succeed. We don't know what supports we might need, what new coping mechanisms, who we might want by our side. We don't know yet because it's all brand new. And unfamiliar.
This is so tough for us because our minds translate familiar as safe. You could be working an awful job for 5 years, and it will feel safer than looking for a new one where you might thrive and blossom. Why? Because the awful job is what you know; it's familiar. It doesn't matter that the boss doesn't appreciate you. It doesn't matter that all your talent is going to waste. It doesn't matter that the pay is miserable and the commute horrific. It feels safer than what you don't know. This is primal brain logic.
So when the growing gets tough, what do those of us who feel tough and those of us who feel not-so-tough do? Like the trees said, we just keep on growing. We consciously remind ourselves that this feels uncomfortable because it's new and we've never done this before. We remember that uncomfortable does not mean wrong or unsafe. We listen carefully to the innate pulsation of growth within ourselves and let it guide us. Then we turn to discomfort compassionately and say, "It's ok sweetheart, I know you're scared. I see you, and I am right here with you."
We hold ourselves by the hand and preferably find someone or something else who would too, and... we grow. Yes, just like that. Just like the trees supported by the earth and sun and rain. Discomfort or not, we just grow.
May spring support us to shed what we are not and gently grow into who we are,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Below are a few of my favorite pictures from the retreat, but there are many more! Check out the full album @ https://www.facebook.com/shira.ozsinai/media_set?set=a.1492328310904096&type=3.
Please join me for the next retreat, Befriending Yourself: Autumn Meditation Retreat, on Oct 25-27, 2019. Fitting for the fall season, we spend the weekend honoring what no longer serves us, bidding it farewell, and holding dear and near the spirit of life and our unique treasures. Prepare for a deeply illuminating experience!
Register now to reserve your spot @ shiraozsinai.com/autumn-retreat.
Shira Oz-Sinai is a spiritual teacher trained in iRest® Yoga Nidra meditation and Soul Lightening Acupressure®, two modalities that share the common principle of noticing what arises in awareness as the foundation to living life with ease and in deep and loving friendship with yourself. These are her musings.