You can be healed and still healing.
You can be open and still hurting.
You can be brave and still frightened.
I have found myself in a place that I can’t quite wrap my brain around lately, where I feel both sadness and joy and confusion and clarity all at the same time. Meanwhile, I have been struggling to find the answers, to move one way or the other, or to just squelch things from my life… and like I said, struggling with it. But one day recently, I woke up and realized that perhaps I was increasing my suffering by needing to control my emotions. I was trying to classify the events in my life as either positive or negative, when in reality they were filled with both.
It was in graduate school while studying counseling psychology that I first came across the idea of both/and thinking. Immediately it struck me. I still don’t know if I completely comprehend the depth of its meaning, but it always serves me in times of pain and confusion and has become a guiding light in my journey toward wholeness.
Most of us humans are programmed to think with a dualistic mindset. This is the either/or thinking which leads us to compare, compete and differentiate. A bit of this mindset is needed to function in our practical daily lives (like ordering dinner) but it falls short in understanding the whole of the human experience. Often times we find ourselves in places of unknowing, where things happen that we don’t understand, or feelings come up that we can’t completely control, despite our best efforts. Things like suffering, death, healing and love, or complex situations like the current state of American politics. These are the places where dualistic thinking just perpetuates the suffering. In applying simplistic, black and white dogmas we may come to conclusions that simply don’t fit and can even be damaging to ourselves and others. For example, one may believe I am bad because something bad happened to me, or that I’m not doing enough because i haven’t completely healed yet. To remember the idea of both/and leads us much further in dealing with these “mysterious” places.
Both/And thinking looks like:
I am strong and feel scared sometimes.
I am healing and having a bad day today.
I love my friend and also don’t agree with her.
Looking at life through a both/and mindset we leave space for healing and reconciliation and have less space for judgement and conflict, both outwardly and inwardly. Really, this is the essence of healing. As we begin to better understand and accept the shades of gray within ourselves and others, we move into a space of self-love and compassion for all that we are as humans. We are then better able to respond to the events of our life with equanimity rather than reacting from a place of pain and separation.
As I circle back to my own place of unknowing, I was finally able to say out loud that I feel lost AND at the same time, I am OK. Being lost doesn’t make me a bad person. It is simply where I am, nothing more, and nothing less. And as that awareness sinks in, and I slowly let go of the struggle of what being lost means about me, I feel surprisingly free to move forward.
If you feel compelled to work with this idea more, I invite you to examine the places in your life where you compare, compete, separate, and judge. Just make a list, that’s it! And if you judge your list, notice! And if you judge yourself for judging your list, notice! And on and on, just notice!
“The day you decide you are more interested in being aware of your thoughts than you are in the thoughts themselves – that is the day you will find your way out” - Michael Singer
YOGA AT THE ORCHARD
We have been working hard AND having fun. Yoga at the Orchard was a magical day of yoga, community and nature. The free class taught by Monica Blanchard, a local resident, was held as an offering of healing and solidarity to the Marshalltown community that was effected by the tornado earlier this summer. After the class, participants gathered in community to talk, drink cider and explore the beautiful farm.
"In every community there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it." ~Marianne Williamson