Living in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the word is out that the bears are once again re-emerging from their winter dens. As I feel into my own rhythms, those of Bear’s resonate.
From the darkness of the womb-cave into the light of the world. From retreat to I am here.
For the last two years, I have been consciously withdrawing my participation in the human community and have been cautiously observing from the peripherals. It was my body that initiated the sign that it was time to ‘hibernate’ in the way of a kidney infection. And so, like Bear, my body led me to create space and time for myself to go inward. In doing so, I have learned more about how to access the inner resources that can only be found in the refuge of silence and solitude.
In the winter months, Bear’s kidneys almost completely shut down. The permission to go inward is imprinted in the design of Bear’s physical body.
It has now been two months since I have re-entered this human construct called the ‘work force.’ As I get my bearings, I observe that this phenomenon of ‘work’ is a force, indeed, and its power lies in the agreements we make within our work placements. I find myself questioning these agreements and I turn to permaculture, a methodology of integrated, sustainable design based on natural systems, for further insight. In permaculture, much attention is dedicated to the observation of the flow of Water because it is viewed as an essential life-giving design element. Permaculture design seeks to intentionally minimize work and maximize flow. A system that is heavily reliant on external input indicates that there is a failure in design.
Work as a failure in design. I feel a deeply engrained worldview of ‘needing to work hard to earn a living’ being brought to the surface.
As I re-enter the workplace, I take stock of the opportunities my kidney ‘problem’ have offered me. From a physical standpoint, the kidney’s primary function is to filter toxins from the blood. I am also learning of the kidney’s teachings of discernment. Chinese medicine states that the kidneys hold our chi (our life force). My emerging relationship with the living Waters moving through my body bring me to the seat of the kidney, my chi. From here, I ask questions of how to proceed living this one precious life entrusted to me.
What conditions do I need in order to promote life-sustaining behaviors? What attitudes and beliefs block the flow of my ability to fully participate in life?
My re-entry into the workplace is marked by the request to sign my name on a contract. It is here that I feel into my initial resistance to these external guidelines defining how I should be put to work. I invite the element of water to work with my experience of resistance to this contract and, in doing so, I hope to create a new path of understanding.
Surprisingly, my wonderings about ‘contracts’ and ‘work’ bring me into the ‘labor’ room and I feel compelled to animate the word ‘contractions.’ Contract and contractions share the same etymological origins. Both words evoke the image of binding together. From a birthing perspective, learning to ride contractions has been one of the most exhilarating pieces I have experienced as a mother. Working in conscious cooperation with contractions, I have never felt more alive. Contractions were the potent moments of action in which I was fully awakened. Each contraction brought out my ability to be fully present in my body. The secret in being able to ride the wave of each contraction was learning how to fully relax my body in the space ‘in between.’
I breathe into this space in between I have made more visible.
I bring this awareness back into my workplace and relax into the contract I have signed. As I glance at a staff meeting agenda, I see a list of bullet points drawing attention to ACTION ITEMS. I am able pinpoint what is missing.
The space ‘in between’.
My body responds to the way in which the agenda is designed. I feel my belly collapsing, suffocating. This force of action-oriented work is not met with pause or breath and I feel it blocking the potential of expansion. I turn once again to the intelligence of Water to consider other possibilities. Whilst most liquids contract and shrink when they freeze, Water is one of the few exceptions to this behaviour. When Water freezes, the bonds between hydrogen and oxygen require space and actually expand. If this space were not present, ice would be denser than liquid water and sink. If Water behaved "normally" many bodies of Water would freeze solid in the winter, killing all the life within them.
This space ‘in between’ is the defining behavior that sustains life. On average, the body of an adult human being contains 60% water.
The Water moving through me invites into the flux of space-making conversation and I am no longer solely bound to the parameters of a contract. I grant myself permission to examine the underlying currents of limiting beliefs and assumptions that I perceive as ‘force’. With a clearer persistence, I also grant myself permission to make space for the pauses ‘in between.’ The medicine of Bear is still there and I access the ability to go within. I feel the power of discernment pulsing in my kidneys. I am beginning to see how my questions open the floodgates to much deeper mysteries. I am learning to labor the answers that live within and I experience the mystery of my body being tethered to a greater mystery. Again, I bring attention to the life-giving properties of Water flowing in my body, bringing me to the intersections of both change and acceptance. In this sense, I am experiencing expansion of a different quality. Not the type of growth that one needs to strive, strain and exert to create. This expansion is more of a holding and a knowing that it is there for me to access at any time…. if I can remember to breathe.Transforming the World from the Inside Out