GrasshopperNotes.com - Thoughts for inspired living


April 11, 2008

Rest in Me

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:00 am

Anyone who’s been in a relationship can attest to having “one of those days” and remembering the ability of their partner to pick them up. They can also remember when they provided the same service to their partner, friend, child, parent, coworker, et al.

It’s nice to know you have such a cozy cushion when your mind is spinning like a pinwheel and your emotions are on “red alert.”

As comforting as that feels, it’s mostly surface comfort when you get a sympathetic ear or soothing embrace. It can be much deeper and cause a larger shift when you adjust your approach in these situations. Reminds me of a story . . .

Back in the Fall of 2006, I attended an elementary school reunion. It was fun to see the people who were once goofy kids in their adult uniforms. There were lots of “remember when’s” and then some catching up on who we were today. I was talking to my school friend, Joan and her husband Mike. Joan began to tell me the story of how Mike refers to her as Pam. She said that anytime she got in her complaining about life mode for too long, Mike would start calling her Pam. I raised an eyebrow and wondered why. Joanie explained it was an acronym for “Piss & Moan.”

There is a point of complaining past which there is no conscious solution. It’s like repeating the same joke over and over again. It’s tiring and no longer effective.

There is another way. Listen and observe yourself or another in a state of presence. That means to get yourself to a place where your mind is not trying to figure out a solution – a calm mind with no thoughts, only pure attention to what’s happening in the present moment. This state of presence that you provide for another may seem like you are doing nothing, and the results prove otherwise. Your internal silence can turn a babbling brook into a serene lake without any conscious contribution.

You are inviting the other person to rest in you – to rest in the serene place where you are.

There is no conscious invitation necessary. Just offer your resting place by being present for them and they will find their way there. You may want to practice in low risk situation until you begin to get the hang of it. For example, when someone offers a minor complaint, just go to your quiet place and watch them follow without any direction. You are offering them a safe landing at an “other than conscious” level and it will be felt. Reminds me of another story . . .

Six years ago I was attending a 7 day workshop where there were two days off in the middle to process the teachings. One of the off days was to be a day of silence. You were asked not to speak for an entire day. You had to interact with the world and your classmates without speaking for a 24 hour period. One of the women came to our cabin to visit on one of the off days and it was my day for silence. She had her day of silence the day before and was able to speak. She began to chat on about this and that and then began to offer up a painful situation in her life. I listened with curiosity at first and then shifted into a state of presence where I had no internal chatter of my own – just full attention to her and the moment. The results were extraordinary. She had a bout of tears and an emotional release and then came over and gave me a big hug. She said she hadn’t felt this good in 10 years. What did I do? I offered no sage advice. I just provided a space she could rest in.

You can also do this with people you don’t know – on a bus, in an airport, waiting in the deli line. When you observe someone in a state of flux, just go into a state of presence – paying attention to the moment without commenting on it – and notice what happens. Oftentimes you will witness a shift in the person’s demeanor.

This is a more respectful way to let someone dampen your shoulder. It doesn’t presuppose that you have a conscious answer for them and it doesn’t burden you to have to figure it out. When you provide a place of rest, others can rejuvenate themselves in your peace.

If you would like a mantra to remind you of this practice, give this a go:

“When you observe a stormy sea, invite that person to rest in me.”

All the best,

John

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