Be gentle with yourself, my love.
Settle gently into what’s here.
Lean into the pain. Soften into the inner storm.
You are safe in the stillness.
You are held in the silence.
You can rest at the burning core
of your restlessness.
You can sink, now,
into sacred aloneness…
~ Jeff Foster
I, Bas, used to be a guy with much chaos in his head. On the outside, I was this cool and collected young man, the epitome of being in sync with himself and his surroundings. Well, outer appearances can be deceiving. On the inside, there was a whole show going on, a freak show, and I was not able to calm it down, to relax my head!
And of course, it had an impact on my body as well. Restless legs, an ongoing agitation in my chest, like an incredibly irritating itch I could not reach. I remember it sometimes felt like burning inside, like an incurable rash. My hands and fingers were constantly on the move, looking for new adventures or, at least, some sort of distraction to keep away from the turmoil I felt.
I started to look for things on the outside that could make me relax. I wanted to bloody calm myself down! So I did a yoga course. Which was nice for my body, but in the end it made me end up staring at the limbs and the bouncy asses of the other participants in total awe and admiration, instead of focusing on my own body and mind.
So, yoga: checked off.
Then I tried some meditation and mindfulness. I burned incense, put on some relaxing music, lit the candles and sat myself down on my, especially purchased meditation pillow.
“Make your head empty,” I murmured softly.
“All the thoughts you’ll have are clouds that just drift by. See them drifting by. Don’t attach, only observe and let them pass by.”
I can tell you, already in the first 3 minutes I didn’t see a clear sky with tenderly floating sheep clouds, but my head was filled with threatening cumuli that grew heavier and heavier by the second, alarmingly emerging into a thunderstorm. And this happened after every try.
So, meditation: checked off.
And then, one day, when I was on the edge of desperation and a nervous breakdown, I saw a word appearing before my mind’s eye. It was grey against a white background…
It was as if it called out to me. Stillness! STILLNESS!!! I felt it resonating in my chest, vibrating. And I had to do something there, dive into it, examine it, internalize it. But how? How do you start such a thing? I looked for articles, and then I stumbled upon one that took my breath away (stupidly enough I do not know who the author is anymore; otherwise I would have shared it with you immediately).
It said, probably in different wordings, that……. if we dare to go into stillness, we dare to go into ourselves…..
These simple words rang so true to me that even my legs collapsed under my body and I had to lay down. Do you know these moments, when a truth strikes you so hard, your legs cannot carry you anymore?
This was it! This was what I was looking for: simple, but so hardcore IN MY FACE!
If we dare to go into stillness, we dare to go into ourselves. And there we will find ghosts we’d rather not want to see. Fear, deafening silence, loneliness, sadness, anger.
Jeff Foster once wrote, “In the stillness, we must face… ourselves”.
Hell yeah! In the stillness, we have to face a whole f***ing lot of ourselves. All the childhood traumas stare us relentlessly in the face.
“In the stillness, we have to face all the thoughts we don’t want to think. All the feelings we have been spending our lives trying not to feel. All the ‘wild and dangerous and dark’ urges and impulses, the terrors and the rage, the grief, and the boredom. All the life we have run away from. All the creativity we have suppressed”
(~ J. Foster)
I realized I had to start worshipping my restlessness, in order to calm down. And by worshipping my restlessness, I had to breathe into my shadows, my inner woundings, my feelings of fear, loneliness, anger. I had to go to all the places where I didn’t feel seen, didn’t feel loved and taken care of….. by others, but first and foremost, by myself. I had to be gentle with my uncomfortable feelings, and convince myself that it was okay to tolerate and even love these feelings, instead of suppressing them and pushing them away.
Instead of allowing my inner turmoil to make myself crawl out of my skin, I had to crawl back in and feel safe again.
Man o man, going onto this path, it almost ripped me apart. The shamanic education I chose to do, supported me in so many ways to reach and embrace my inner restlessness, to stare into the eyes and the fragile heart of my wounded child, to reconnect with the enormous amount of love for myself again, a love I had lost along the way.
After two years, I remember exactly when (it was during a very emotional rebirthing I did), I all of a sudden felt my inner turmoil leave my body. It slid out and evaporated. I even saw it leave my pores and disappear into thin air, like a dark-brown fog that drifted away. The moment I birthed myself into this world as a new man, a man who loved himself in all his forms and peculiarities, I could enter the stillness……. the stillness within…..
Text by: Bas Waijers
Image by: Noah Buscher (via Unsplash.com)