“Searching” may not be the best word to use regarding wholeness, though many of us feel it to be something elusive, or at best found in occasional moments scheduled into our busy days. So why does it feel like a difficult “job” to find wholeness, when presumably, we are already whole?
Perhaps what we are really looking for is the time and presence to truly sense ourselves, to listen. Wholeness is so much more than doing a good job at work, being a good parent or partner, keeping the house clean and being responsible. And while these are good things to do in life, they can crowd out the other, quieter calling inside. This is the place where we hear our passion speak on another level, our creativity, our love of the earth, and the awe of wordless beauty and of life itself. What are we being called to?
Answering this question requires times of solitude, of doing “nothing”, and above all, paying attention to our inner voice. There is no “right” answer to questions regarding wholeness, and that can drive the perfectionist in us crazy! In fact perfection is the death of creative life. It perhaps allows us to feel safe, but it keeps us bound and unquestioning. It fosters a lack of trust in ourselves by giving us a set of external goals and rules to automatically follow, stepping in line obediently to the outer promptings.
Let us be less obedient! Trust when you follow your inner values that they will be good and ethical values. And trust that our imperfections are not our loss or shame but what really spurs us on to more and deeper personal development. We share the imperfections with every other human on the earth. If we can have compassion and understanding for our own, then we will be able to embrace compassion and understanding for others. This is key in bringing the world closer and less divided into “us and them” where one is better, smarter and more valuable than another.
If we want to live life fully and authentically, we need to take time to explore the territory of the mind and heart, and observe how the mind likes to dominate the heart, even thought the heart is the place where our deep fulfillment is experienced. Our minds are ever on overdrive criticizing, judging, wanting, avoiding, and separating things into good and bad, desirable and undesirable. But really, evaluating diminishes life and does not allow for pure presence and experience. While our minds carry on an incessant commentary about what we are experiencing, we are no longer experiencing. As an old Taoist text says, “separating things into good and bad, and right and wrong, sets heaven and earth infinitely apart”.
So perhaps we can set aside some time to just be – to just be present. This state of mind can be cultivated to slip into moments in our day with meditation and other like practices, but more likely we will find a depth of presence simply in times taken for solitude. And though we may gasp and say that we are far too busy, from the moment we wake until going to bed at night, can we really forfeit times of solitude and the richness they bring?
Think back on the times that you had to yourself doing nothing productive, where stillness happened. Maybe it was while taking a walk in nature without hurrying back to an appointment, or sitting quietly by a tree, or just staring into space endlessly. These are the kind of times, when we are alone, that we can feel the spirit and beauty of the world and our place in it – and the connection of all things. We get a chance to reclaim a sense of peace that has nothing to do with what we are “doing”. And in that quiet, as we listen to ourselves, we can hear what we are called to, what passion we might have lost in the busyness of life responsibilities. This is often where a sense of wholeness can be rediscovered.
Take time to get let go of the mind. It is, as they say, a good servant but not a good master. Being quiet allows us to drop our attention and energy down into our body. Presence is not felt in the mind, it is in the “beingness” of the body. Breathe. Feel the movement of your arms swinging as you walk, and the inward/outward movement of your chest as you inhale and exhale.
If it seems daunting to take time for your self, start slow. Baby steps. Schedule in an hour here or there. Try to refrain from turning that hour into something productive. If you have children, remember that in taking this time to yourself, you are teaching them the art of valuing their selves. If you have a demanding job, remember that you are not your job, and that at the end of life, rarely do people regret that they had not spent more time at work.
When considering what “wholeness” is, it is worth reflecting on how far our culture has moved from valuing it. Don’t let external cultural models tell you who you are, or convince you that you have no options. Do not let your self be reduced to sociological norms. Listen to your inner promptings about what brings happiness, more than listening to what you think your peers think of your success and earnings.
I can tell you that I think that by far the most worthy and important things to attend to in life are beauty and love, generosity and compassion, listening over talking, and presence over productivity. But then that is just me. What is truly meaningful and deeply fulfilling for you? The answer will most probably come from a knowing inside that happens in silence, rather than from your head. It is time to get serious about what makes you feel joy and life affirming celebration.