By Courtney Snyder
In our last discussion we talked about simplifying as a means of making room for the soul. Simplifying is a tool - not to be used once and then put away, but to be used over and over. It is particularly handy when we feel stuck. Aside from bringing clarity to what really matters, simplifying is also about making room for that which can’t arrive until we create a space for it. What are we making room for? What if nothing comes? What if no one comes? This isn’t about ‘making room’ for a shiny new car or a bedazzling person (though it may lead to that). This is about making room for our inner wisdom which knows which way to turn, what choice to make or by what means to use our gifts to serve a higher good. This leads us to the word “trust,” and inevitably, this idea of trust leads into the topic of embracing uncertainty.
As a psychiatrist, I care deeply about this ability to embrace uncertainty, because of the impact it has on the immune system and stress hormones and thus on physical health, emotional wellbeing and quality of life.
Embracing uncertainty means having a belief that your answers will come - that all you need to see is right in front of you. All you need right now is to listen to your inner knowing. When you turn that corner your next answer will be revealed and so on.
“As you start to walk on your way, the way appears.” - Rumi
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
What outcomes are you clinging to right now? The seed for the discussion is the below question and a song.
Think about something in your life right now - a situation at work, a collaboration, a travel plan, an upcoming event, even meeting someone for coffee...now think about what your expectations are..what you think needs to happen…
Then consider -
There are uncomfortable realities in life. We will have times of suffering and loss. We will, at times, fail at what we set out to do. Our lives will end. We can’t change these realities, but we can change our perspective. We can choose to be the surfer who insists on dominating the wave (good luck with that) or choose to be the surfer who responds to the wave and has a glorious ride.
As with any spiritual pursuit, the key is practice. To rewire our brain takes regularly noticing when we’re grasping for outcomes and then making a mental shift to letting go. I think of this shift as being from a left brain perspective to a right brain perspective.
Another way to help a concept sink in, is to embody it - to have a physical experience of it. For me, this is music or visuals.
The second part of the seed of the discussion is the song, “Let it Be.” “There will be an answer...let it be.” Paul McCartney’s mother, Mary, had died ten years prior to him writing this. He is describing her ‘speaking words of wisdom’ to him in a dream during a particularly challenging time in his life. Our physiology shifts when we access this sense of trust. To know what I mean by this, notice as you listen to “Let it Be” if there is a release of tension in your body. If not this song, perhaps there’s another that will resonate with you.
Lastly, I would say the strongest way to reinforce a shift in mindset, and fire those neurons, is to discuss it and be inspired by others who are also recreating their own relationship with life.
If you’d like to sign up for this week’s discussion, visit the Pragmatic Spirituality Discussion Page.
By Courtney Snyder, MD
Below is the seed for the upcoming Pragmatic Spirituality Discussion
Aug. 8, 2019, 7-8:15pm, (reservation at Pragmatic Spirituality required)
“Our Lives are Frittered Away by Details…..Simplify. Simplify”
- Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau’s quote can elicit a sense of urgency. You may hear a reminder of our mortality or simply a call to refocus and clear the way for what matters.
For this discussion, the seed is both Thoreau’s quote and some questions to think about in the coming days. You might write down your answers if you’d like. As always, there will be no expectation to share answers, though you’re welcome to if you’d like.
Take about one minute for each of the next three questions to write without inhibition. There’s no need to be complete. Just capture your first reactions.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Hans Hofmann (1530 German painter and draftsman)
Clearing our spaces and grappling with our material items allows our brain/mind to repeatedly consider what matters and what doesn't. This is also a great way to practice listening to our inner voice. Our physical letting go is a powerful way to learn to psychologically and spiritually let go. This isn’t about being neat or about being a minimalist. This is all about finding clarity.
We look forward to being with those who will be coming,
Courtney & Marty
(We're not quite full yet. If you'd like to reserve a spot, please visit the Pragmatic Spirituality for more information)