The true dichotomy of life and living well seems to me to be wrapped up in this statement:
"The stronger you become, the more gentle you will be."
I know, I know...At first, this seems like a bunch of woohoo nonsense and stupid talk. I personally want to contradict and argue this statement by pointing out all the historically touted images of "strong" people and leaders.
I mean, come on. Hitler and Stalin built empires of corruption and violence by projecting "strength" to the general public. So did Darth Vader, the Godfather and numerous other "bad guys" in myths and legends, and movies throughout time. For some reason, we are ingrained to swallow the story that "strength" means political power, amassed financial resources and a need to be ruthless and emotionally detached.
This makes me feel sad and a little hopeless at times. I wonder how we can ever have peace and contentment when so many world "leaders" continually promote and condone their individual political and religious agendas? How will the attention and movement of the masses ever be swayed to focus on the good of all when our cultures instead glorify the having and getting of more "goods?"
When I go down this mind spiral of negative what ifs, it can be really overwhelming. So, I pull myself back and say, "I can only manage MY THOUGHTS, MY ACTIONS and MY LIFE." Whew! That is a cold splash of wake-up water to me. It helps me to get out of my "stinking thinking" and back into the land of now. I turn off the TV, shut down the computer, (I don't have a cell phone) and stretch and breathe. Ahhhhhhhh. I feel more calm and able to chew on the deeper meaning of this lesson:
"The stronger I become, the more gentle I will be."
The best way I can help make this world and my present moment and place more peaceful and loving is to become a paradigm of these characteristics. I can remind others of the less celebrated meanings of strength--those of character--through my own actions, thoughts, words and beliefs. I can focus on the act of being morally strong and dedicated to the tenets of kindness, patience, compassion, forgiveness, joy, happiness and acceptance.
When I am truly strong in character and spirit, I understand and embody the need for gentleness and I encourage and honor the choices of others. I don't need to force anyone else to think or believe the way I do. I just need to be the BEST ME. I have to do MY work, release my regrets and anger, forgive my "trespassers," and build my spiritual strength of faith and intuition. This is A LOT! No wonder lots of people want to focus their attention on others. It is easier to do.
Life IS an infinite space of directions and possibilities. The act of being kind and respectful becomes the anchor for the vessel of my strength so I may remain rooted yet flexible and resilient in the face of challenges and difficulties. Sometimes I find this challenging and notice I am becoming hardened in my heart and opinions. When this happens, I also feel more stiff and inflexible physically and emotionally sharp and splintered. Things don't flow and I seem to look for and attract conflict and obstacles. Has this happened to you?
Lately, this is when I practice pausing and reflecting and I ask myself:
1) What trigger from the past that makes me feel anxious and afraid is coming up right now and why? Are the people and circumstances similar somehow? In what specific way?
2) I then wonder why I am attracting a situation like this past circumstance into my life at this moment and time? What am I ready to learn, and how can I respond differently than in the past because I am a DIFFERENT person?
3) How can I appropriately comfort (I am very honest with myself at this point and try to think of healthier ways to provide solace than food, romance novels and lashing out at others) and reassure myself AND the younger person I was in the past? Do I need to forgive or just listen and extend compassion? I also remind myself of all the loving ways in which I take care of someone else who is asking for my assistance in this type of matter and see if I could treat myself the same way.
4) Do you want to cry or scream or run away? Can I give myself these releases in a way that honors? Is there some type of ritual that will help me process and surrender my feelings? Sometimes, I write in a journal or call a safe friend. Many times I walk outside, sit with my dog, go someplace quiet or just get in the car and drive for a while with some gentle music in the background.
There are other things and thoughts that come up, but this is where I usually start, and ALL of these practices remind me of how I am being more gentle and loving with myself. As a result, I am able to set some things from the past free to float back into the infinite source of all and brush out new spaces for more strength and peace. After all, the more I am able to face my own fears, demons and regrets, the more personal power and courage I gain to go deeper and further into myself. The more I do this, the more I am able to do the same for others, and the stronger I become.
I am becoming stronger all the time...not in the "evil" empire way, but in a way that mirrors paradigms of personal strength and accountability. Teachers who inspire me by recognizing their flawed human nature and deciding to embrace it and use it to create love, plant seeds of hope, and engender gentleness in one small space at a time. I am choosing this path and I am learning as I go:
"The stronger I become, the more gentle I will be."
Jen Martin is a Mom, Medium and Movement Person. She uses her intuitive abilities and training in yoga, prenatal yoga, meditation, and business to help others appreciate and help themselves. If you have kids, like hearing from loved ones in spirit or enjoy taking heart-centered yoga and meditation classes, check out Jen's blogs.