A short time ago I personally asked to do an inner work session to process some issues that have caused me discomfort. One of those issues was “control.” This is a big one for me, my liver/gall bladder constitution wants to exert its power to control over what it doesn’t like, and to resist and dominate a particular situation the ego deems important. It’s an old pattern that I’m pretty good playing out.
My Facilitator made a comment that maybe I should give “God” a little more opening to intervene in these situations. I then realized that when I go into control I shut the door to Divine guidance. When my ego gets tough it’s like a dog with a bone, no surrender is possible and the path becomes rigidly defined. My control mode excludes all but my arrogant ego belief that I know best and that I will make this situation the way I want it to be. Of course, that rarely happens, and then I’m left with a whole host of emotions, disappointment or anger, discouragement or frustration, and the need to project my blame somewhere. It gets messy. So the realization that my control issue was exclusionary to that Spirit that is so beloved was a potent wake-up call.
To make a long story short, I committed myself to consciously opening myself to the possibility that in times of difficulty and challenge I could turn to my Spirit and ask for guidance, help, or a sense of being with that important moment that life was bringing me into. The concept is not new and is not difficult for me; it fits with my personal philosophy. But sometimes we peel the onion a few more layers deeper as we receive another chance to refine the karmic possibility. It is usually the behavior part that is challenging. A habituated behavior is hard to re-program. It takes practice, witnessing the story playing out again and again, seeing that this desired approach actually is a viable and a beneficial alternative. So my practice began and sure enough I had ample opportunity to change my default setting of control. For the most part, in the real world of “great responsibility,” I must say things improved. Then something really interesting happened.
It is summer 2010 now, and every summer Deva hosts our Creativity for Peace Camp. This program is my wife’s co-creation; Rachel founded it about 10 years ago after 9/11. We bring Israeli and Palestinian teenage girls here to Devaland to tell their stories, process their issues, open new possibilities of dialogue in an age-old legacy of conflict. The girls live here, sleep together, eat together, do art together, and witness personal transformation together. (see www.creativityforpeace.com)
Two days into the camp on a Saturday night, with 29 people living here on the land, Rachel woke me up at 11pm to tell me that there was no water. Immediately I’m triggered, “Don’t tell me that!” My mind is going through all the possibilities, a broken water pipe, electrical failure; the well pump has broken… I get in my car and drive down to the well house and search around for the problem but cannot find anything obviously wrong, except the pump isn’t working. Because the responsibility of the land and houses is mine, you can imagine everything going through my mind: “I’m going to have to move the girls to a motel…how long will it take to get a new pump and find somebody to install it?…” Later as I returned to bed with my mind in a whirlwind, I realized this must be a test. I passed the easy tests over the last few weeks, but this was on another level of intensity. The next morning at daybreak I’m back in the well house trying to determine what to do. “I need help!” I dig out the yellow-pages and call for assistance. The guy shows up promptly takes a look at the situation and says he can’t help me. He offers to call some pump technicians, but being Sunday, no one answers. I say thank you… and he drives off.
So I’m standing there partly in awe of the situation, processing the complexity of emotion, the significance of my recent work on my control issues, my responsibility issues, and almost every issue known to humankind running through my consciousness. And I hear my inner voice clearly reminding me to ask Spirit for help. Not that I had not already done that, but now I noticed that there had always been more than a touch of doubt in my communication. I had actually worked on that in my session: the feeling that I don’t like people complaining, pleading, demanding, putting their order into the “God-service” and expecting immediate results. My feeling has always been, “take some personal responsibility!” But in the session I realized that I needed to take it to another level where the separation between ego and Higher Self was dissolved into that unity and wholeness that we truly are. It is not an act of demanding to a being outside of you, but an act of manifestation of our inner infinite possibility. The other part that was important for me was to surrender the sticky attachment of need that this situation was exposing emotionally within me. The test/teaching, which was so apparent, must have catalyzed something within me because as I’m standing there by the well house suddenly I hear the well pump switch on as if nothing at all was wrong. There was a brief moment of disbelief and then a dawning of clarity. Synchronicity in all its cosmic proportion, that “aha” moment as my Higher Self kicks me in the butt saying, “see what a little faith can do for you! We did this together.” And…we haven’t had any more water problems.
I believe that behavioral change can occur in many ways, sometimes slow, sometimes quickly. Usually for me, it takes some practice, a lot of reflection, and more practice. But this time a touch of grace sorts it out with such elegance that all I can do is bow down in humble gratitude and say “thank you, I’m learning.”