“Sweetheart, you are in pain. Relax. Take a breath. Let’s pay attention to what is happening. Then we’ll figure out what to do.”–– Sylvia Boorstein
Recently, I came across this quote by Sylvia Boorstein. This was not the first time I read that, in her effort to cultivate loving-kindness, Sylvia addresses herself as “Sweetheart,” especially when self-criticism and self-doubt bubble up.
Today, as my daughter and I were driving to visit a friend, I found myself sharing these words with her and talking about the importance of practicing loving-kindness and how this practice needs to also include ourselves.
It has never been easy for me to include myself in the practice of loving-kindness. I tend to be hard on myself and “sweetheart” is not exactly the term I use when I get frustrated with myself. I know that I’m not alone in this. Most of us tend to judge ourselves harshly and beat ourselves over the head.
As we began to discuss the brilliance of finding a loving way to address ourselves when we become confused and impatient, the memory of being pregnant and giving birth bubbled up.
When I was pregnant, I was encouraged to be kind and understanding towards my body and my needs. I was to take good care of myself, eat well, rest, and be patient. It was going to take at least 37 weeks before I could hold my babies.
I was coached to manage labor through deep breathing and the support of my partner and doctors. I was asked and given permission to be present with my body, pay attention to what was happening, relax, and breathe through it all. The rest would hopefully fall into place. It did!
In other words, I was asked to practice loving kindness towards myself as well as towards the two beings that were growing inside of me.
As it often happens, one thought led to the next, and I found myself contemplating our current reality. Lately, I’ve been getting the sense that we’re collectively participating in this pregnant pause within which something precious has taken hold and growing … but it’s not quite ready to reveal itself.
Is the time we live in a time of groundbreaking transformation and rebirth? I sure hope so, because the idea that we’re going through all this for nothing is quite disillusioning.
When we’re navigating life changes and travel the gauntlet between what used to be and what will be, we inevitably come upon the dark and arid space of, “I have no clue what’s going on and I don’t like it one bit.” It’s not a comfortable place to be in. There’s never-ending uncertainty and we often find ourselves filled with angst, self-doubt, and fear. Does any of this sound or feel familiar to you?
Someone has picked up the deck of cards and thrown them in the air. How are they going to land and what will we build with them? No one knows yet. Yet, here we are, sitting in the midst of the “I don’t have a clue” land gasping for air.
Sweetheart, you’re confused and you’re scared. Relax, Breathe. In time, you’ll know what you need to do next.
Sitting in the dark, waiting for someone to crack the window open … that’s what this time feels like. Yet, as counterintuitive as this may sound, that is exactly what we are supposed to do; stay present with our uncertainty and lack of clear direction, practice self-care as best we can, and reconnect with ourselves.
This is the time to ask questions, practice purposeful reflection, and clarify our values. Soon, we’ll begin to get glimpses and insights as to where we’re heading. Doing the work of reconnecting with our values and priorities will give us the strength and sense of purpose we crave. Then, we can begin to plan and take steps towards building our new beginnings.
As you’re reading these words, take a moment to contemplate the following questions:
- What changes are rambling through your life right now? What is asking to be born?
- Do you desperately feel the need to slow down but keep pushing and acting against your best instincts? Can you give yourself permission to slow down and practice deep self-care? How would that look like to you?
- Look around. Does your environment make you feel calm and at peace or anxious and unsettled? What can you change? What needs to go?
- Think of your habits, activities, stuff, ideas, relationships, and anything that is not currently aligned with who you are and how you want to live. What needs to be released? Are you ready to let it go?
- Do you need help with any of the above? Reach out. You’re not alone.
We live in extraordinary times. We need strength, determination, and stamina so we can fully participate in the birthing of a new paradigm.
Let us remind ourselves and each other that we belong here and we’re capable of getting through to the other side. We’re not here by accident. We were born bearing gifts. Let’s put them to good use. Shall we?
Sweetheart, you are doing great. You’re stronger than you know. Relax. Be here, now. You’ll figure it all out in due time.