peaks_and_valleys

PEAKS AND VALLEYS

“One has to learn not only to rejoice in the day but rejoice in the night too – it has its own beauty. The peaks have their glory; the valleys have their richness. Whatever comes, enjoy it as part of natural growth. Just remember one thing: accept everything that life gives to you. If you are alive, climates will change, seasons will change; and you have to learn through winters, through summers, through rains. You have to pass through all these seasons with a dance in your heart, knowing perfectly well that existence is never against you. So whatever it gives, it may be bitter, but it is a medicine.” OSHO

 

These are wise words of the enlightened Indian mystic Osho, who taught thousands of people from all over the world about truth. For decades he would speak every day for a couple of hours to interested seekers. I was one of them. He passed away January 1990 leaving behind volumes of wisdom. Many of the things he said, like the quote above, have inspired my own exploration.

 

It is a theme I feel passionate about and I guess it is one we all have a story to tell about. Isn’t it part of being a woman to experience cycles? Don’t we all know them? Menstrual cycles affecting energy levels and mood. And then the bigger cycle for the older ones among us: the beginning of our menstrual cycle and the end of it – menopause – a great theme for another article. And the biggest cycle – birth and death.

 

Life has taught me to understand that everything happens in rhythms and cycles.

 

I grew up with the illusion that progress is linear. The way I was educated emphasized that way of thinking. For the purpose of this article, I will call it the ‘male way of thinking’, which is rational, logical, linear.

 

The ‘female way of thinking’ is intuitive, feels, has hunches, ‘knows’, reads between the lines, sees it in pictures, follows her gut, has ups and downs, is a process, it can feel like ‘birthing’ something … sound familiar, women?

 

Taking school as my model for success in life I thought this is how it works: learn, get good at something, achieve, learn more, get better, achieve more. That isn’t the whole picture, is it?

 

There was a whole lot this linear model didn’t explain. If this was the roadmap to happiness, why did I feel so lonely and empty as a teenager? I was best in school and did everything right, why did I feel something was missing?

 

Sadness was one of my great teachers in accepting valleys.

 

When I started my inner work at the age of 21, I often found myself crying at the end of a group not knowing why. It was confusing. According to the linear model I should be feeling happy at the end of a group!

 

So one day I asked Osho a question about my sadness. His wise and simple answer was: ”Acceptance is the key”.

 

At that age I had no idea what that really meant but it started my exploration. It wasn’t the answer I expected. I thought he would solve my problem and make my sadness go away.

 

Now I am a total fan of acceptance, practicing, teaching and living it as much as possible.

 

I understand today that there was so much repressed pain in me stored away in my unconscious. It all started surfacing in the safe and supportive environment of therapeutic groups. Since my first encounter with sadness, I have learnt a lot. Ongoing exploration has taught me the difference between resisting and accepting sadness.

 

“Suffering is not in the fact but in the interpretation of the fact.”

What does that really mean in the example of sadness arising?

 

Try the following recipes

 

Scenario 1/ Recipe for suffering:

 

Say no to the feeling, listen to your mind warning you about what might happen if you did feel sad: “it’s endless, once you let go you will never come out, don’t be weak, keep it together, nobody will like you, what will others think of you … Judge sadness as bad, a sign of weakness, unnecessary, inconvenient, a waste of time

Hold your breath, keep it shallow, breathe as little as possible

Tighten the body, contract your muscles and organs

Stop the sadness from arising, push it down and resist it

Get creative in numbing yourself: eat too much, drink alcohol or take drugs, distract yourself with work, TV or games

 

Scenario 2/ Recipe for inner peace

 

Say yes to the feeling, adopt a welcoming attitude in your mind, be friendly with sadness

Relax and soften your breath, imagine you are breathing into or with the feeling

Relax the physical body as much as possible, feel your muscles and organs relaxing

Imagine the feeling of sadness is a guest and your body is making space for it. Let it grow into a bigger and bigger wave that will peak and ebb naturally

Stay present with the feeling, give it all of your attention

 

Which scenario do you prefer? I would love to hear about your experiences so feel free to contact me

 

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