Action in inaction. Inaction in action.

Cherry tree hugging me.

“A shout out to all of us who are struggling today. If you are praying, keep praying. If you are working, keep working. If you are crying, offer your sadness to the ancestors. If you need to rest, let the earth hold you. If you feel overwhelmed, go and let the silence find you. If you are numb and terrified, call on the Mother. If you are feeling stable and resourced, dedicate some of that energy to others who feel depleted. If you are giving up on love today, it’s OK. I will love on your behalf and know that I am offering it back to you. Calling on the blessings of Audre Lourde. May I erupt into spontaneous joy and may this joy be how I wage political warfare.”
Lama Rod

One of the things I do to soothe myself is action. When I feel helpless, powerless and uncertain, I go into action. This has many positive aspects. I can get a ton done. I am seen as competent and capable. I have a lot of capacity, and I can support a lot of folks. This tendency also has consequences. It takes me away from my feelings in order to have a sense of control. At times, I can feel overwhelmed by over-committing myself and my time. It also feels like part of white supremacist, ableist and capitalist conditioning to be “productive” and “useful.” Last week, I got a sore throat. I am 99% sure I have allergies, but it slowed me way down. I stopped being “productive.” I stopped grocery shopping for folks and contacting local businesses to see how and if I could volunteer. I finally stopped “doing,” and through that stopping, I got to observe my tendency for action more clearly.

In this time of slowing down, I got bored for the first time in years. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt bored, and it was glorious. I colored, watched clouds and looked at the buds on the trees and flowers in the yard. I was more present, more calm and more steady than I have been in a long time. 

With whatever happens next in our community and our world, my hope is I can hold onto this experience of being. I already cultivate being in small ways during my meditation practice, before I eat my food and when I am falling asleep, but this enforced pause has encouraged being to penetrate and integrate more deeply into my life. 

To be clear, I am not saying action is bad or wrong. It is wonderful, necessary and powerful. And so is inaction. So is slowing down. So is being. So is being bored. How can I cultivate both? How can they both be resources? How can I find being even when I am doing? How can I surrender doing when I am being? 

In my doing phase I created a list of places to donate checks to if you are in a financial position to do that. There are also a few opportunities included to donate time. For some of us, myself included, action can be a survival tool. If this is something that helps you get through this moment, I hope this helps. For others of us we don’t have a choice of being instead of doing as essential workers, parents, caregivers and dealing with chronic or acute health conditions, just to name a few of countless examples. Even as life can remain incredibly hectic, even more so for some of us, my hope is you can taken 10 extra seconds in the bathroom to take a full deep breath, to press snooze one more time or to smell a flower. I am fan of 5-minute care. What can you do in 5 minutes or less to be? 10 second care counts too!

How are you finding action and inaction at this time? What is helping you? Is it action? Is it inaction? With whatever life will look like on the other side of this pandemic what do you want to bring from this moment into that future? 

I’d love to hear,

In community and gratitude,