Meeting Ourselves
Dawna Markova

  

There were a series of incidents that blew me over the threshold into this retreat.  One was something the poet David Whyte said a friend, Brother David Steindl-Rast, told him:  "The antidote to exhaustion may not be rest.  It may be wholeheartedness.  You are so exhausted because all of the things you are doing are just busyness.  There's a central core of wholeheartedness totally missing from what you're doing."  Whyte said that from that moment on everything changed for him.  He realized there were courageous conversations he had to have, because his work had become too small for him.

Listening, I became aware of the courageous conversations I needed to be having--with myself.  But how could this be possible when I couldn't even hear myself think?  In the following weeks, all around me, in the media and in corporations, I kept hearing three phrases that wouldn't leave me alone:  "the meaning void," "Time is the new poverty," and "whatever" (said with a slack jaw and a shrug of limp shoulders).

How can any of us find our way to wholeheartedness in a meaning void?  I knew that time was something we gave ourselves or didn't, and that "whatever" was the quickest way to soul leakage.  And none of us can find meaning or wholeheartedness unless we are in a void, a void of everyone else's images and information.

My grandmother used to fast once a year for twenty-four hours during the holiday of Yom Kippur.  Listening to her empty stomach growling, I asked her once why she fasted.  She didn't say anything for several moments and then she replied, "You can't grab God.  You just have to become empty.  Then God will have a space to enter."

So many of us are afraid of meeting ourselves, alone, without distraction.  We have been taught to fashion an image of who we think we are supposed to be and show that to the world.  Through fear of knowing who we really are we sidestep our own destiny, which leaves us hungry in a famine of our own making.  Each of us is here to give something that only we can offer, and when we avoid knowing ourselves, we end up living numb, passionless lives, disconnected from our soul's true purpose.  But when you have the courage to shape your life from the essence of who you are, you ignite, becoming truly alive.  This requires letting go of everything that is inauthentic.  But how can you even know your truth unless you slow down, in your own quiet company?  When the inner walls to your soul are graffitied with advertisements, commercials, and the opinions of everyone who has ever known and labeled you, turning inward requires nothing less than a major clean-up.

Traveling from the known to the unknown requires crossing an abyss of emptiness.  We first experience disorientation and confusion.  Then, if we are willing to cross the abyss in curious and playful wonder, we enter an expansive and untamed country that has its own rhythm.  Time melts and thoughts become stories, music, poems, images, ideas.  This is the intelligence of the heart, but by that I don't mean just the seat of our emotions.  I mean a vast range of receptive and connective abilities, intuition, innovation, wisdom, creativity, sensitivity, the aesthetic, qualitative and meaning making.  It is here that we uncover our purpose and passion.

The future exists only in our imaginations.  It is a collective story waiting for our voices to express.  That can only happen when you and I are willing to enter the emptiness, listening in the silence until we can understand how to create a future we can befriend.

I am wondering now, dear reader, about you.  What are the courageous conversations you need to have with yourself, and how do you need to have them?

May we allow ourselves stillness so we can open our minds to ourselves, and spaciousness so we can allow a moment of rest when all thoughts fly above us like kites in a strong wind.
   
   

In I Will Not Die an Unlived Life, one of the most charismatic teachers and thinkers of today speaks from her heart. Twenty years ago, faced with a life-threatening illness, Dawna Markova began a journey of rediscovery.  This book follows her path to finding deeper meaning in life.  As she points out, people can continue to feel powerless and live habitual lives - or they can make the choice to follow their passion.

  
    


 
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