“Let the flow manifest where it will, not where we will it.” – Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
“Love is my religion.” – Ziggy Marley
By Vicy L. Wilkinson, MA, BCC
It’s a gorgeous day and I am grateful for being here with the opportunity, time, space, wherewithal, and skills to write & share something open about my experience. It is my dream to get all this tumbling experience and introspection out of my head so that my stories and studies can better serve others. My work has shown me how much our stories impact all of us and the world around us.
My experiences in this lifetime so far have yielded a full range and often paradoxical and mind-boggling series of emotions and impressions. In my mind there exists an unfolding tapestry of moments and memories that contain everything, sometimes all at once. Irreverently reverent. Dishonestly true. Fantastically real. Unbelievably realistic. Miniscule and infinite in scope. Wide open and withdrawn. Overwhelmingly scattered and targeted like a laser beam. Full of conflicted conviction. Hysterically funny sadness. Loving hatred and hateful love. Optimistic hopelessness; joyous moments full of grief and despair. Gaining wisdom through loss after loss. Grasping tightly to learn to let go…
And the more stories I hear from others, the more deeply I understand we all experience this odd dichotomy of seemingly oppositional experiences, often simultaneously. The more I stay fully present with clients, students, friends, and family, the more I understand that nothing is exclusive or unconditionally independent. There is no single singularity of experiences that stands alone, isolated, outside the totality of all-that-is in our conscious experiences as human beings. We can truly laugh and feel joy in times of dark despair. We can feel hatred towards people we love deeply.
I’ve “known” this all my life through a deeply resonant feeling I first recall feeling when I was five years old and outside running through the woods. I studied it and questioned it intellectually for years, throwing my mind, body, spirit, into combing through philosophies from cultures, times, masters, and academics around the world – 21st century and backwards to the beginning of our recorded histories of thought.
Today, though, I have returned to the deep resonance of knowing from childhood. A knowing in my body – in my consciousness itself – in my spirit of the interconnectedness of all people-places-things-ideas-philosophies-understanding…being itself.
Our feelings and experiences are all valid, all ours alone, and universal.
Our ideas are singular and expansive.
Our creations reflect all that’s come before, as a whole.
We exist as part of all else that has ever or will ever or does exist.
Being itself is a continuum – expansive as the universe itself.
Consciousness is a gift!
It is within this knowing that I perceive my own rightness in the world. And by rightness I mean proper, integral, complete-ness, not at all my “rightness” (or righteousness) as opposed to wrongness.
Right action: My right actions are actions that revolve around using my inherent gifts. Teaching, coaching, questioning, facilitating, creating, growing self and others.
Right motivation: I am motivated by the need and, indeed, the calling to serve others and facilitate conscious growth, adaptation, and change.
Right livelihood: Coaching and consulting and teaching are my right livelihood. Writing, speaking, collaborating, listening, learning, and creating are integral pieces to this livelihood whole.
Right intention: I intend to heal myself and others. I intend to generate love, kindness, and compassion as a path towards healing & health – towards wholeness. Healthy wholeness is created by resonating the frequencies of love, kindness, compassion, and gratitude.
Right speech: To the best of my ability, which is better and better as I continually practice mindfulness, I intend to speak with kindness and passion, with loving intent. I recognize I use language that is sometimes calming and beautiful, and sometimes raucous and uncouth. My speech is born of emotion and the goal is that what I speak, reverent or irreverent, comes from a heart full of love, not a soul full of hate. Sometimes, love says, “I love you.” Sometimes, love says, “F**K YOU.” When it comes from love, it is right speech.
Right view/understanding: As I am able to comprehend my vastness (consciousness) and my limited scope (physical form), I believe the right view from which to pivot is seeing the unlimited capacity for transformation and change we each hold. We can be born again and again. We create our worlds daily, hourly, by the minute, in each moment. We can change, grow, heal, learn, and develop ever-greater understanding and capacities for compassion. We are infinitely finite.
Right effort: I am here to use my mind and body and spirit regularly – daily – in support of all that is moving towards positive expansion. My efforts matter. I effect change by deciding to use what I have at any moment. Right effort is making ongoing effort towards expanding loving-kindness through practice and action.
Right concentration: I am here to consistently redirect and re-determine my focus. I am here to commit constantly to showing up and being present. Present to myself and my own needs; present to the people, places, things, other beings around me. Present to this life and this moment. With mindfulness and choice, I can control my concentration.
All of this makes up my own personal experience of living what Buddhism calls the 8-fold path. I practice. I fall short. I practice some more. I excel. I practice some more. I fall apart. No matter the outcome, I just keep practicing.
I have come to realize that part of the 8-fold path goes back to those paradoxical – nonsensical, even – points of tension and experience within myself, that conflicted conviction and optimistic hopelessness, and all the rest.
I am made not solely of good and not solely of evil, but I contain within my existence the full capacity for both and for all the gray areas in between. And I fundamentally believe that we all contain this full spectrum of possibilities. We choose – again and again – with every thought, every spoken word, every feeling we allow to flourish inside of us, every interaction with others outside in the world, we choose which piece of the spectrum defines us in that moment.
Our lives are made up of these moments, these choices. We become an amalgam of these moments. When we reflect on our own moments, and begin to feel more joy, love, gratitude, kindness, openness than we do hate, pain, sadness, guilt, I believe it is then that we truly step into being our best selves, our whole selves.
When there is so much love that no external hate can shake us, we are whole.
When there is so much compassion that we can be gentle on ourselves and others in times of crisis, mistakes, or grief, we are whole.
When there is so much kindness that angry outrage from others does not knock us down or tear us apart, we are whole.
When we are whole, we are one. Heart to heart, mind to mind, spirit to spirit.
May we all become whole.