As we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11 I’m thinking hard about stability. How the most solid of things can come tumbling down without warning. How slippery is permanence and how, regardless of ample evidence to the contrary, we humans still long for our loves to last forever.
We put great stock in Forever being the key to our stability. That if we can get something to last, save some precious item long enough..it will hold this reality down for us.
I’ve actually cleared my life of many “sentimental value” objects this last year…things I felt more obligation around keeping than pleasure. It’s been really liberating.
Because, investing our energies into illusions is not safe. Stability is a daily practice. A noticing of movement, a keen awareness of the universe constantly rearranging itself and our own changing, but nonetheless, staid place in that dance.
We are finite and infinite. We grieve and rejoice, we are cut from the identical cloth of a tapestry of stars and we all suffer just the same.
Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability it is essential for human survival.
– Dalai Lama XIV
When you feel mired in oil or strewn to the winds, how do you reach out for support? Who and what are your handles?
Here are some of my own dearly held methods of maintenance:
1. Taking stock in community, friends and family. Notice the many amazing people with whom you share a relationship of mutual tespect, admiration and support. Even when you feel separate from the percieved happiness or success of others, you are never alone.
2. Do yoga. Yoga is an ancient practice that creates space and permeability in your body and mind, so you can digest food, emotions and information with fluidity and ease. It also increases strength of your body to contain what needs to be held and to hold space in place. You are a container. Yoga helps you choose what you fill it with.
3. Increase nutrition and moniter portion size. Food is a tool to support your body, so that it will, in turn, support you. Eat as much deep green, as well as multi-colored fruits and vegetables and whole grains as possible. I especially love quinoa for it’s sustaining energy. Eating less uses less energy. Eat when your hungry, stop when you’re full.
4. Meditate. Practice stillness. De-fragment your brain. Practice the separation of thoughts and presence, habitual, knee-jerk reaction and a conscious ability to respond. Find a group or teacher, or invest in a book. I have learned many things from the writings of Pema Chodron and John Kabat Zinn and have just started visiting my local Shambhala Center for community and support. I continue to be amazed by the power of meditation.
5. Rest and stay hydrated. The importance of this one is not to be overlooked. Allow yourself an hour earlier to bed. Drink a large glass of water or two on waking and sip throughout the day. Water equals fluidity. Rest equals stability.
6. Remind yourself it’s all about 24s. Just one day at a time. When time and circumstance feel tightly bundled around you, step back and prioritize what needs to be done to maximize, or survive this one day. Conversely, it’s a powerful practice to also notice that in this one day, there is plenty. Today you have everything you need. You have no reason to believe this won’t be true tommorrow as well. There is enough – time, food, love.
7. And sometimes, I just have to write. Tell the stories. Arrange and rearrange my perceptions.
So, in the coming weeks, I will be publishing my own 9/11 story. At least a version of it. I was there, in New York, standing on the Brooklyn Bridge, watching the towers fall on my first day of sobriety and only days from concieving my son, a brave new life already taking root amidst so much death. Stability inherent in change.
I have also been deeply inspired this month by the practice of Pema Teeter at storycharmer.com who is telling a story a day from August 11 to September 11 on her blog. Her own relevatory 9/11 story has been percolating for the last decade and is peeking into the light as she examines collective grief and how loss can be transformed into wakeful transformation.
We are united in life, in word, in deed. We are united in the stories we tell ourselves and others. We are united in our efforts to create our own sense of stability amidst the shifting sands. Ultimately, perhaps our unity is our stability.
I would love to hear your thoughts, your tips and your own stories. Comments and emails are always welcome.
Cairn photo credits from top to bottom, Michael@NWlens on Flickr, fethrnfrg5 on Flickr + Shutter Bug Fotos on Flickr.