Yesterday, while reading an article by Peter Coyote, a Zen Buddhist Priest, who knew Robin Williams, I started to think more deeply on how to handle life . Peter compared Robin’s great talent as a biceps . He wrote, “Normally when you are gifted with a huge talent of some kind, it’s like having a magnificent bicep. People will say, “Wow, that’s fantastic” and they tell you, truthfully, that it can change your life, take you to unimaginable realms. It can and often does. The Zen perspective is a little different. We might say, “Well, that’s a great bicep, you don’t have to do anything to it. Let’s work at bringing the rest of your body up to that level.”
A woman called Faith Smith was a major influence in my life. I called her my fairy godmother because at a young age, she opened up much to me about beauty. universal Love, holistic health and release the from the false concepts of self. A person I knew wrote to Faith, saying that she wanted to take her life . She received back a very short note saying “ Honey ,whatever it is you are running from, drop it now, for you sure take it with you “ Those words written and shown to me on that card have been etched in my mind my entire life.
So I ask: How do you deal with magnificent potential when other aspects can try to choke it or kill it? How do you traverse dark inner landscape at times in life without leaving this world, or going into addictive coping strategies such as over working , over eating or drug addictions.The answers are not simple, as we are all complex humans. However, I will share some tools ( a,b and c ) that I can use in my one to one and group work and have practiced when needed in my life.
a) This a Part of You
Whatever is happening with dark and negative thoughts and feelings is only part of you. It is not all of you. In fact you could practice looking at yourself caught in fear based thought patterns. Stand above or behind yourself and observe you as caught up in a thought cycle. In the Irish language we say “Ta uaigneas orm” . It literally means” loneliness is upon me”. In the English language, we would say “I am lonely.” The Irish language gives a quality of detachment to the situation . It is on upon me . I am not it . There is always more to you than what is happening or what you are feeling right now.
b) Take a Different Approach
Find a different way to deal with a mood that grips. Such as, instead of taking to bed or isolating, take a walk, go out to nature, be around children or animals or supportive friends. Instead of going for that stimulating coffee and cake, make a nutrient rich smoothie or plant based casserole that would nurture and settle your body/being. Recently, I was very scared about a conversation that I needed to have. Instead of giving it a lot of energy in my mind in a way that I can , I decided to complete a writing task that I had committed too . The fear dissolved as I stayed with my work and the conversation took care of itself at another time. By making conscious choices to move beyond the habitual patterns that pull you deeper in a quagmire of despair can often loosen the hold of outmoded behaviours.
c) Love the Negativity
Treat it like a child that has fallen off the bicycle and cut their knees. Give it compassion. Speak to it as if you are a parent . Ask what does it need from you today. Imagine the frightened, dark place sitting on your lap and you are advising it, loving it and not judging it. A good tool with this is to journal it onto a page. Write out the mood in the form of a dialogue with a loving part of you. It is amazing the healing and dissolving of fear that can happen with this practice. These loving acts can bring much insight and wisdom to the situation.
Robin Williams in his life and movies showed how out to the edges one can go. How big and courageous we can allow self to be. His too soon a death shows that it is not the complete picture. There needs to be balance with attention too to the other parts of the psyche that require healing and integration.
Our society is appearing to be harder to live in, with war and news of conflict almost every day. Yet , the practice is still to find peace, release and gentleness, first, towards one self and then to each other. May his passed help us to stay more aware, take time to be with in harmony with our inner lives and to connect to this precious moment.
– Mary Berkery
Mary Berkery is a Personal Development Coach , Whole Person Wellness Educator , Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator.
She can be contacted at www.maryberkery.com