God is an active, embracing Intelligence, waking up in us the places that are asleep or limited. Feel this Power with you. Know that you are resting in an Intelligence broader and wiser than what your human mind can discern - who sees from the point of view of eternity. And loves you. This Intelligence gives you gifts of discernment and wisdom.
So many of us hide our deepest longings from ourselves - maybe because others or life experience has taught us that our needs aren't important, that self-sacrifice is the highest virtue, that it isn't safe to admit out most sincere desire because disappointment is inevitable and we must protect ourselves from it.
Today, know that your deep desires are guideposts, way markers to a full, satisfying, whole-feeling life. Practice asking yourself what you want - and then what you want under the want - and then under that. Practice noticing what you want and honoring it, even with a very small, modest action. A rest. Time with people you love. Movement. Creative expression.
Tara Brach in her book Radical Compassion quotes the Zen poet Ryokan:
"If you want to find meaning, stop chasing after so many things."
Today, know that less is more. Know that it is okay to let go of some expectations, plans, and desires so that what is left can be done with love, attention, and depth.
From Tara Brach's new book Radical Compassion:
"Bring to mind some benevolent entity or formless being - god, spirit, intelligence of the universe, Jesus, Buddha, Divine Mother, Nature - that you sense as wise, compassionate, all-embracing.
Imagine taking the full mass of the fear you've been carrying and handing it over -- offering it into this larger field, this vaster being. It's no longer your 'job' to worry or to carry this alone. Your small self is not in charge. Let the fears and worries be held in the hands of something larger."
Today, turn every worry and concern, no matter how small, over to Love. (You may want to include a ritual or visual image to accompany this.) You are being held. Your issue is being held. You are safe.
We don't need to know how Love will guide or reveal before turning over our concerns. Put them in Love's hands. Rest in Love's arms. Pause. Move forward gently.
Many of us spend our days ruminating, turning certain thoughts over and over. Some of us plan: we constantly consider and adjust and add to our to do list and timeline. Some revisit regrets. Some envision the future. Sometimes we have a problem we need to solve and can't stop thinking about it.
Of course, we need to plan and dream and make amends for the past and address problems. But thinking the same thoughts over and over, often in a circular fashion, for long periods of time is not productive. Maybe we have a secret belief that if we leave an issue mentally unattended, something terrible will happen. We believe we are being responsible and attentive. We believe the thinking gives us control. In reality, the rumination often tires us, blocks new insights, and entrenches limited ways of thinking.
So what do we do? Maybe set aside time on your calendar for thinking about an issue, brainstorming solutions, reaching out for support. If you decide on some steps during those times, put those steps on your calendar. Maybe if issues keep occurring to you during the day, jot them on a list - and promise to think about them during the time you've planned. (Keep your promise, or your worry-mind won't trust you and will insist that compulsive thinking is necessary.) Know that changing long-engrained habits isn't easy and may take time. Know that at first, your mind might not know what to think about in that new space and will want to return to old habits. Keep practicing giving yourself more mental space and freedom, which will leave room for fresh insight, inspiration, surprises, and a wider perspective.
Today, know that challenges are not a sign that you are doing anything wrong or have failed - they are a sign that you are actively participating in life.
Today, know that much of our suffering comes from holding ourselves to an impossible-to-meet ideal. Be willing to soften and challenge that ideal.
Maybe you aren't failing: maybe you are learning. Maybe your thoughts of failing are inaccurate or exaggerated. Today, spend more time learning with a full, humble, open heart and less time imagining you are failing. You are safer - and better - than you realize.
The book of James says that God's wisdom is "without partiality and without hypocrisy."
In the past, I have taken this to mean, for example, in my work with my students that I make sure that I'm not privileging some students over others or asking more of my students than I ask of myself.
This morning, though, I realized that although I do my best to be just and fair with others, I'm not always just and fair with myself. Using students as an example again, I expect myself to work harder and sacrifice more.
God's wisdom, though, is "without partiality and without hypocrisy." Love wants us all to be treated fairly and kindly and generously. We don't have to prove our devotion or worth by our degree of self-sacrifice. Instead, treat yourself with the same principled and generous kindness with which you treat others.
The book of Ecclesiastes says God gives us "wisdom, knowledge, and joy."
Today, I am applying that to every element of my day. Work. Friendship. Household tasks. Activisim. Love gives us wisdom - intuition, integrity, love. Love gives us the skills and insight we need - directly or through access to people or other resources. Love give us a joy - a sense of lightheartedness, a shedding of a sense of fear or over-responsibility, an ability to be grateful and to delight and be playful.
Without realizing it, most of us, on some level, parent ourselves as we were parented. Maybe our parents didn't know how to tend to our basic needs (regular food, water, sleep.) Maybe our parents were overly protective and warned us against any risk. Or maybe our parents valued courage and stoicism and taught us to bury fears and dismiss feelings. Maybe our parents had big emotions and taught us that feelings are overwhelming. Maybe our parents taught us we are low on the priority list - or the center of the universe. Maybe our parents taught us that our worth comes in serving - or in achieving.
We absorb these beliefs and learn how to treat ourselves. As an adult, it is our job to shed unhealthy ways of treating ourselves and learn to be wise parents for ourselves, to attend with compassion, to our genuine needs. Maybe we need to learn to feed and rest ourselves well. Maybe we need to learn to feel our feelings - or let go of the habit of drama. Maybe we need to draw firmer boundaries with other people - or reach out for more connection.
Tarn Wilson is the author of the memoir The Slow Farm and numerous essays. You may read more of her work at tarnwilson.com.