Running into nature is like running to safety.
Today I went into the woods with great mental confusion, weighty worry and enough fear to call “terror” – and I left it all there. I came out with strength, hope, faith and belief.
* * *
I lost my peace this morning.
I’ve been facing misfortune for a while now. I have been looking for full-time work without success, piecing together some part-time work with teaching and “working from home” on the job hunt and my yoga projects. I am more isolated than ever, worried about how my bills will get paid and constantly wrestling with a negative mind. I don’t sleep well, I grind my teeth and my dreams are weird. I feel overwhelmed, burnt out and under-fed. And lately, I have been getting in touch with the huge amount of fear I am existing with day-in and day-out.
The good news is: if it weren’t for my devoted yoga practice, I’d be feeling even worse. Somehow I get through the days smiling (most of the time), able to connect (most of the time) and able to give (most of the time).
But to be completely frank – my primary mode of functioning through this is to deny the fear and push through. So sometimes I crumble. Like this morning.
* * *
There is a pattern.
I’m sitting at my desk, knowing what I should do, for the sake of accountability to others, for the sake of getting a job, for the sake of my well-being. I start off with vigor and resolve. And then like a shot of morphine creeping into the veins, the exhaustion hits. I rapidly fade into fatigue.
And the couch calls out to me.
So today, just as I was curling up on the couch with my pillow and blankie, boo-hoo-ing about succumbing to slumber, a friend called. Knowing I was sinking into oblivion and after already canceling a work-related meeting, I’d texted him to cancel our post-work plans.
When he called to see if I was OK, I fumbled for words, not wanting to tell the truth: “I am sinking into oblivion and would not be very good company.” As I grasped for a good story, he figured it out. “You need to get out,” he ordered. I continued trying to explain that I was not feeling well and he repeated, “You need to get out.” So I asked if he would come and hike with me after work and he answered, “No; you need to get out now. For yourself.” I continued mumbling…
“GET OUT!” he commanded, with urgency.
So I got out.
* * *
Into the woods I ran, as if something or someone was chasing me.
I don’t even remember the first 1/3 of the hike. Somewhere along the way, I took a turn I’d never made before and walked toward the sound of rushing water until something about the trees and sky stopped me in my tracks. I looked up, crying. I searched for the right thing to pray. I cried more. I told the truth. “I don’t have what I need. I’ve tried everything. I’m terrified.”
After a series of heart-felt confessions, prayers and sobs, I paused and listened. The next thing that came to mind was:
“What do I need?”
The first answer was, “Money.” I immediately realized it’s not that simple.
“Income. And in order to have income, I need work.” Yes.
And then the anxiety started to build again. So again, the question arose:
“What do I need?”
And louder than bombs, I heard the words:
Realizing that I not only needed to tap into my own resources, but that I’d need the strength, hope, faith and belief of others, I added:
I knelt and touched the earth. I awakened to the day, the forest, the water, the moss, the rain. The smells and sounds of it all. And I cried some more.
Returning along the path, I came to the crossroads where I’d turned off earlier. I stood still with my eyes closed, doing nothing but listening, smelling, feeling. Trying to figure out if I should head back home or walk a little more. And then it came to me, “Running into nature is like running to safety. So why would I leave?” And onward I hiked.
* * *
Admittedly, I haven’t touched anything on my “to do” list since returning from the forest. I made hot chocolate with cayenne and cinnamon; I ate some toast with sunflower butter and pomegranate jam; I wrote this blog. And now I’m pretty darn tired and will most likely curl up on the couch for a nap.
Later this evening, I’ll reach out to friends and tell them that I need support.
I may have lost my peace today – but I also knew to take a break from my own mind (and the couch) to get into the vast expanse of nature. Thanks to the willingness to ask for help, listen to suggestions and run toward safety, I am feeling the ease of accepting exactly where I am. Which is much more peaceful than being paralyzed by confusion, worry and fear.
Tomorrow, I will see where this acceptance takes me when I sit down at my desk with that “to do” list again.
Wishing that all beings receive exactly what they need. OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.