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Stopping

August 29, 2023

Stopping

By Amba Gale

“We need to move at the speed of guidance.”

Michael Lerner, Commonweal Founder

Recently, I found myself in a condition of being confused, unclear, and stressed. 

Being committed to expanding my reach and making a larger contribution, many possibilities, and opportunities had started to come my way. I wanted to choose them all!  

In addition, I was moving through a passage of high stress, with many significant changes and passages my own clients were moving through, and I needed to find my own way, and my own relationship to the changes. I had a navigation issue on my hands.

I started misplacing things. I started confusing my Self with my thinking. I was losing access to a place of peace and mindfulness. Life seemed to pull me this way and that. I was in fear of the future. My mind had kicked in big time, with its “worst case scenario” pattern. The wildfire in Maui, the wildfires in Washington, and the floods in the city in which I grew up all felt like outward energies and circumstances that mirrored my inner state. I began to feel like I was on a small, wooden boat in the middle of a wild, turbulent sea, about to be swept up. I found myself in a dark place.

I had lost my heart and lost my way.

The Sioux have a saying: “The longest journey we can make in this life is from the head to the heart.” 

I knew I had to make that journey, that pilgrimage. I was living in my head, not my heart.

Choices were in front of me, choices that needed to be made from my heart.

What allowed me to transport myself across this threshold, from confusion to clarity?”

In addition to the outward requests I made for coaching and thinking partners, I started with STOPPING, declaring an inner breakdown, and cultivating a profound longing for a breakthrough.

People don’t stop. We move, we scramble, we keep moving, go faster and faster and get busier and busier, skirting with things that perhaps don’t really matter, skirting on the surface, going farther and farther away from what brings meaning to our lives, what brings us into True Presence, what allows us to listen to our own heart’s song. 

Deep inner work was required, and that kind of depth required time.

I stopped.

Real stopping allows for real listening, listening, as St Benedict says, “with the ear of the heart.”

That means getting bigger than the mind’s constant chatter, the chatter of judging, analyzing, comparing, voting, and preparing. In the Arica School, a school for enlightenment I engaged with many, many, many years back, the Founder, who was Chilean, Oscar Ichazo, called that kind of mind chatter “chicherero,” “chich” for short, meaning the sound that the cricket makes.

We could hold listening as a spiritual practice.

When you allow yourself to stop and become aware of your mind rather than be your mind, you find that YOU are profoundly wise.

And the key is to tap into that wisdom that lies beneath the surface.  You have to get silent enough to be able to connect and hear your own Wisdom Speaking.  It’s like tuning yourself to a higher frequency.

As I said, I had choices to make.

The Zen tradition cautions us about choosing too early. I wanted to choose NOW, in the middle of the swirl of life’s circumstances and inner turmoil, and it was not yet time. 

Lao Tzu says, “Do you have the patience to wait until the mind settles and the dust clears?”  

I did not. And I saw that was a key.  

That is when the following poem, “Flowing with the Current,” arrived.

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