“Where to go when you don’t know where to go.”
At first glance, this sounds like one of those frustrating statements that initially sounds profound but ends up meaning nothing.
But when the phrase popped into my mind during my yoga practice this morning, something clicked.
Part of it was timing. Sometimes during yoga practice, my mind becomes calm – like when my online teacher, Adriene, specifically says “now, give your thinking mind a break.”
But at other times, like this morning, my mind doesn’t think it needs a break. It has so much to think about! Often what it is thinking about upsets me and feels a lot like a critique of how well (or not) I’m living my life to date.
So when, all of a sudden, right in the middle of a long mental monologue about how my life is going nowhere and may have actually passed me up a long time ago, I heard “Where to go when you don’t know where to go?,” well, my mind just couldn’t pass up that kind of thought-rich jackpot.
Like one of those incomprehensible riddles meditation teachers give their students, this phrase literally stopped my mind cold. “Hmmmm,” it thought. “Where to go when I don’t know where to go?”
And it started thinking about that instead. Eventually, miraculously, it concluded the right place to go is always within, deep, deep within, not stopping until all feels completely quiet, silent, still.
Stillness, it decided, is the “within place” where actual guidance about next steps, or simply waiting with enhanced patience reserves, is available and free for the asking. Inside that within place of stillness, I can find calm, reassurance, friendship, compassion, encouragement, even a chin up “atta girl” if I need one.
In that “within place” is pure stillness, but there is also everything I love most – nature, the ocean, the trees, wind, sunshine, rain, the breath, the cheerful sound of my parrot chirping, the sight of my two precious shells placidly surveying their turf, my dearest loved ones (human and not human), meditation, yoga, color, light, rest, peace – all of it.
When I go there, to that within place, the comparisons and competitiveness and feeling of having wasted every opportunity I’ve ever received and missed the boat so many times that boats themselves are now obsolete, it all dissipates. It dissolves into a sea of wisdom that says I am not the only being who has ever felt this way or had these worries and survived them.
Then it tells me once again that the life I am seeking is not in these things, these milestones or even the stepping stones to get to the milestones. Where I am going – truly going – none of that matters or exists.
With love, a spirit of service, small kindnesses, humility, the inner smile, the outer smile, laughter, every tiny flutter of love, it all evens out. There is equality, somehow, in the place beyond differences only the outer eye can see and the outer ear can hear.
I am slowly training myself – reminding myself – that there is always a place where I can go when I don’t know where to go or what to do or who to turn to or how any of it will ever get better. And that place is within.
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever felt feelings somewhat similar to what I describe here, and felt that horrid desperateness that makes you want to scramble for a take-back, a do-over, a rush to make the most of the time left or a simple throwing up of hands to say, “That’s it – I give up!” Where do you go when those feelings overwhelm you? Where do you go when you don’t know where to go?
P.S. This post is from my monthly free letter, “Love & Feathers & Shells & Me.” Subscribe to read the full edition!