I recently finished reading Jeff Brown's latest book, An Uncommon Bond, and it reminded me of some important lessons (I'm paraphrasing here, as these aren't Jeff's words):
- The spiritual bypass of transcending feelings and being the witness rather than feel and let the feelings have their way with you dulls your aliveness
- The brighter the sun, the longer the shadow -- for example, those deeply intimate f$ck me open to God type of relationships aren't all rainbows and unicorns. Rather, they are paths to growth and healing, which means that intense stuff comes up. All of that stuff you've been hiding in your closet comes bursting out and you can either run and hide and break up with your partner or see it as an invitation to dive deeper and grow as a person.
- There's no all good or all bad
- It's not love that disappoints us -- it's our expectations. Often we dwell in stories rather than the truth and being in the moment.
- Growth and expansion, things often seen as positive, can be miserable when we resist them
Here's my confession -- when I first heard about Jeff's book, I was excited and couldn't wait to read it. I figured I'd inhale it over a weekend. I've never quite experienced an Uncommon Bond, but I've had some intense connections that have provided me with some amazing invitations to grow, and I wanted to open my mind to the possibility of a whole new type of relationship. After reading a few chapters, I had to take a break. The material felt intense. No finishing the book in 48 hours for me. After hitting the little more than halfway point (which took weeks!), I ended up devouring the remainder of the book in one evening (that creeped into early morning). What a ride. So much of the book resonated with me. If you're looking for a perspective shifting read, I highly recommend it.
Of course I wanted to talk about he book with my go-to person for deep conversations. He was highly amused (And he dared me to share it on my blog. Challenge accepted.) when I put forth my little life theory. I usually don't categorize or make generalizations like this, but I was on a roll in the conversation and this is what came out: There are two paths in life -- the hammock path and the rock tumbler path. The hammock is nice. It's comfy and cozy, but you can't create too much of a ruckus or you'll get dumped. Sometimes you end up with your fingers clenched in the mesh of the hammock, holding on for dear life trying not to rock the boat, so to speak. Then there's the way of the rock tumbler. You end up polished but you get a lot of bangs, bumps, and topsy turvy tumbling in order to get there. Seems like the rock tumbler would be a bit more uncomfortable than the hammock, right? But, the hammock path doesn't exactly provide any polish.
I'm someone who started out in the hammock before unceremoniously dumping myself out and jumping into the tumbler. I'm still in the tumbler. I've got a shinier coat, yes, but I'm still in need of polishing. The bumps, the tumbling, the chaos -- all of it has provided me with growth and perspective shifts that I could have never imagined when I was sitting oh-so-still on that hammock for all those years. It's like the difference between hanging out in neutral vs. being in 5th gear zooming along the Autobahn. Sometimes I still run for cover and wistfully thinking about my hammock days, but I've developed a love for being uncomfortable and all that it brings along with it.
I bring this to my yoga practice as well. Rather than stick with what I'm comfortable with, I'll regularly inject practices into my regimen that make me very uncomfortable. Lately I've been doing a practice in which I hold postures that I don't normally practice for long periods of time. I notice how I want to drop out of the pose. I notice how I want to go back to my regular practice. I notice how I resist and all of the thoughts that I use to support my case for dropping the new yoga practice. I welcome it all onto the mat. I revel in the emotions rather than drop them and force myself to muscle through the practice. I just let whatever needs to come come. And when I step off the mat, I know that what I did was more about loving myself in all of my glory rather than pushing myself into doing something that I resist. It's accepting all of those complaining, whining, avoidant parts of myself.
The fact is, you can idle in neutral and rest in that hammock for your whole life. It's not bad to live that way. It's merely a choice. The invitation here is to consider jumping into the rock tumbler, to be in the intensity without trying to let it go or heal it, to accept all of you rather than hide the parts of you that you don't deem lovable.
That's the invitation I extend to myself on a daily basis and it's the one I'm extending to you right now. RSVP please.