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Clarity in the eye of the storm
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Pass it on
I'm reading
Clarity in the eye of the storm
Pass it on
Pass it on
I'm reading
Clarity in the eye of the storm
Pass it on
Pass it on
Articles
13 September 2020

Clarity in the eye of the storm

How can we remain inwardly poised during a time as outwardly turbulent as 2020?

Written by Jordan Bakker

Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.

Discussed in this Story

No matter what happens around us, it is possible to live in a harmonious inner state. That’s the ancient teaching of many of the world’s wisdom traditions, and it is demonstrated in numerous examples including Jesus’ heart of forgiveness even as he was crucified, and the resilient compassion of Tibetan Buddhist monk, Palden Gyatso, despite 33 years of torture and imprisonment.

This attention to our inner state can be of benefit not only to ourselves, but also to others. As Terry Patten describes in his guide to holistic activism, A New Republic of the Heart, when we improve the quality of our inner world we can bring more energy and awareness to our engagement with the outer world.

So how can we remain inwardly poised during a time as outwardly turbulent as 2020?

It’s certainly no easy task. In my own case, news of local and global crises has repeatedly jolted my nervous system, and disruption has rippled throughout my own life and the lives of those around me.

Yet, I have also discovered that I can keep making choices that incline me, little by little, toward sitting with what is. I can also make it a priority to return to a space of clarity and perspective whenever I have been triggered.

As I’ve persisted with this endeavour, several key strategies have emerged, which I describe here. I invite you to consider them like a menu of possibilities.

Make Home a Temple

It’s 7am and the morning sun is illuminating the faces of three people who are sitting quietly in a living room in Mount Martha. If you’d told me a couple of years ago that I would start doing morning meditation with my mum and dad, I wouldn’t have believed you. But the year is 2020 and life is stranger than fiction.

I had actually started the year with the intention of moving into a share-house dedicated to personal transformation. This plan was delayed by coronavirus and my temporary stay with my parents was extended. It gave me a crazy idea: perhaps I could make our family home into a temple!

Maybe my parents felt the need for more zen during this wild time, or maybe they were simply bored with lockdown, but for whatever reason, they agreed! Before long we were all doing yoga and meditation in the morning, and watching conscious documentaries and doing ecstatic dance on the weekends.

These daily and weekly practices have brought stability to my inner world during a time of disruption. Sharing these practices with my own parents has been perhaps more rewarding than a share-house temple could have ever been!

  • What qualities would you like to cultivate through daily or weekly practices?
  • What shared practices might be appealing to your family or housemates?

Connect with Community

Belonging to a community can bring emotional and psychological wellbeing and provide a sense of purpose. These benefits motivated me to co-found Integral Melbourne, a community for conscious living, several years ago. 

However, coronavirus really did throw a spanner in the works because the physical distancing measures prevented our in-person gatherings. We were cut off from one of our most helpful resources during a time when we all needed it the most.

But thank goodness for video conferencing!

Before long, we were able to effectively replicate our regular events of meditation, reflection and circle-work on Zoom. I’m always surprised by the buzz of upliftment, energy and warmth I feel during these calls; it is almost like communing in person.

Surprisingly, we’ve also been able to significantly increase our membership during lockdown. Wendy, for example, had wanted to come to our events for some time, but she lived in distant Gippsland. Now she’s able to join regularly from the comfort of her living room.

Now might actually be a unique opportunity for you to connect with a resonant community, because so many have gone online, eliminating the barrier of location.

  • Would it serve you to more regularly connect with a community?
  • What kind of community would most nourish you? You might like to check out: Integral Melbourne, The Weekly Service, and A New Republic of the Heart.

Invest in Deep Relationships

It was a revelation to me that relationships can become “people-growing machines” crucibles for tremendous healing and evolution. Sadly, conventional culture had never taught me this, and so, growing up, many of my relationships had been confined to the mundane.

As I’ve grown older, I have found a group of friends who are also passionate about personal transformation. Whenever I am having trouble digesting my own experience, I call a friend, and we take turns holding a listening space for each other.

I find these deep conversations helpful in many ways. I am usually better able to feel and map out certain aspects of my experience when I am listened to. I keep track of my feeling as I speak, as this helps me determine which narratives feel most true. I also like using my conversation partner as an objective sounding board, and a source of unanticipated feedback. Finally, sharing usually lightens the burden and brings a sense of connection!

It isn’t hard to learn to tap the latent transformative resource of our relationships. One of the essential steps is to simply articulate the nuances of our own feeling to another person.

  • Can you make better use your relationships as a transformative resource?
  • Would it serve you to improve your skills in holding space? You might consider participating in circle-work with online communities or engage in formal trainings such as Non-Violent Communication or Authentic Relating.

There’s no doubt, living in a time of global crisis is not easy. However, let’s not equate difficulty with inevitable, unchangeable misery. In every moment we can make an inner movement toward just a little more peace, wisdom and joy.

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