What to do when you don’t know what to do

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Sometimes inspiration doesn’t come.
Sometimes clear mind seems as far away as the next galaxy.*
Sometimes our thoughts get a little too quiet.
A fog settles in.

In these moments, discomfort can drive us to get busy.
“I’ve got to do something about this!”
“Something must change!”
“I have to work harder!”
“This cannot stand!”
But the “what to do” eludes us, leaving a pallor of shame on our cloud of discomfort.  The very mind that seems to be blocking our access, then blaming us for it, then demanding we take action . . . also refuses to show us the way out.

So what do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Rest.
Allow the stillness.
Notice what it feels like to not know.
Rest some more.
Breathe.
Make breakfast.
Take a walk.
Watch rain drops splash on a puddle.  Notice the sun lighting up a daisy.
Then rest again.

The world offers us plenty of doing.
Sometimes, through an act of uncomfortable grace, Life offers us rest instead.

So rest.
The sun will burn off the clouds eventually.
Clear mind will return.
In the meantime . . . settle into the fog.

*Did you know that there are ~100 BILLION stars in this galaxy alone?  And that there are ~100-200 BILLION more galaxies BEYOND the Milky Way?  Kind of makes this moment of personal dullness seem altogether impersonal and relatively small and perhaps not such a Big Deal after all.

Stepping into the river of guidance

Nothing Flows

I remember talking to a friend about money.  At the time, I was wanting to learn how to have a more conscious relationship with money, with a focus on saving and paying down debt.  This friend, who has lived in fairly constant struggle with money, offered me a spiritual teaching, about the importance of “not holding onto money, allowing it to flow.”  Now, I am not denying the profundity of this teaching.  There is certainly an energy of ease — where one is not resisting, grasping, tightening — that can surely serve the flow of abundance in one’s life.  However . . .

. . . this was not the teaching I needed at the time (nor do I believe it was the teaching my friend needed).  What I needed was a teaching about the strength in knowing how to allow money to accumulate so that it could flow more easily in my life.  If I continued to accidentally create the condition of drought — by “allowing money to flow” that I didn’t actually have — then the proverbial river would run dry.  And nothing can flow when the river runs dry.

This conversation illuminated for me the immense benefit that comes from having external guidance, of having a person outside of myself who I trust to see me clearly and lovingly, to help me recognize whether I am ingesting good medicine or simply following my sweet tooth.  I have noticed that I am often drawn to teachings (and quotations, memes, opinions, people, stories, etc.) that reinforce aspects of my being that don’t need strengthening (e.g., teachings on the importance of empathy), and that I can move away from teachings that don’t immediately resonate (e.g., teachings on the importance of developing strength).  Anyone who has spent any time reading spiritual teachings knows they are fraught with contradictions; this isn’t because spiritual teachings are hog-swallow, it’s because each of us needs different teachings at different times in our lives, to address our own unique constellations of biases and beliefs as we develop on our own unique paths.  Because of the very human tendency to move away from discomfort, it can be helpful to have another person helping us track, helping us see the places we don’t necessarily or naturally want to see.   This, for me, is an important function of the therapeutic relationship — having support to find our way to the teachings we need, so that we can unfold into the people we are meant to be.  And ultimately, with time, that external support develops into a wellspring of inner guidance that is overflowing.

♥ ♥ ♥

Rafia Rebeck, MEd, MA, LPCC, is trained in the Hakomi Method of Psychotherapy. She offers a warm, sincere, and safe approach for those who seek personal transformation through mindfulness. Please feel welcome to get in touch by contacting rafiarebeck@gmail.com.  If this postcard was meaningful for you, I invite you to share it with others who may benefit.