Tag Archives: Pressure

Urgent? Or Important?

Urgency
“The Principle of Priority states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.” – Stephen Pressfield

When I first read that quote I could feel a little bit of stress drain from my shoulder blades. Can you? As the world speeds up, and as our minds and bodies try to keep up, there is a growing urgency in the air, causing all kinds of reactivity in us and around us. Can you feel that, too?

I’ve written about this sensation before, calling it pressure, and it certainly is that. It’s also a free floating anxiety, a non-specific urgency…like the clock is ticking and the time is now. Now! But for what? What is the urgency? What is the pressure? If we don’t know what the urgency is about, how can we distinguish it from what is important?

Obviously on the social, political, economic, and environmental fronts, the clock IS ticking, and the clock feels like a time-bomb. The pulsing question so many of us are feeling, while the Talking Heads continue to rant back and forth is: what can we do? How do we keep our heads up, our hearts open, our optimism in place? What is our personal role in this brink? The energy is so thick lately, it seems hard to even place one foot in front of the other, to accomplish the most mundane things like emptying the dishwasher or getting bills paid on time. Overwhelm is the current lay of the land.

I do know what is important, though. And so do you. I wish there was a new word for it, a word that conveys the vast, penetrative feeling of positive possibility, the ever-fresh, alive, magical solution; a word that isn’t overused and misused so much that it has lost its potency…but the truth is the only word we have to describe the force within us that can drain away our reactivity… our radioactivity, our overwhelm…and diffuse the ticking bomb…is LOVE.

LOVE IS WHAT IS IMPORTANT. We know it. But we are in such a hurry, skittering across the volatile surface of life, that the depth and breadth and richness and calm within the experience of Love is dismissed or pushed aside, because we are in the trance of urgency. And we know that, too.

So let’s just take a minute to breathe, right here, right now. LOVE IS ALL WE NEED. From the surface hypnosis, it sounds like trite, Pollyannish pablum, I know. I’ve felt that feeling many times myself. But when the force of Love comes alive, and we get a glimpse through Love’s eyes, everything is possible. Nothing is impossible. Answers arrive. Magic appears. Energy is released. We just can’t hold it yet, that’s all. We lose our vision over and over again. Maybe that is the urgency we seekers feel. The urgency to stay plugged in.

So this is my prayer for us all today.  May we relax as best we can into the new rhythm of this consciousness evolution. May we trust the unfolding. May we allow ourselves to be rewired in love. May we remember what is important… and do that first.

 

Pressure!

The word “pressure” has been bubbling around in my thoughts for the last few weeks. Have you ever had that happen? A concept will invade your psyche and then show up everywhere, light bulbs popping right and left?

It feels to me as if pressure is the descriptor for the times, as if the world is ramping up exponentially, and we’re all feeling it in our bodies and psyches. Not all pressure is a bad thing, of course. It takes a certain amount of force to propel us through our resistance, and that is exactly what so many of us are doing…forging ahead through layers and layers of emotional muck we didn’t even know we had. Great things, magical things, are happening as a result, too.

But unexamined pressure creates anger, and this is what I want to talk about. I suppose this isn’t really new news, although something about that combination of words – pressure creates anger – literally leapt off the page at me when I recently read The Mindbody Prescription, Dr. John Sarno’s bestseller from many years ago. Anger is an emotion I, like many, struggle to consciously experience, because I’m so afraid of it. I don’t want to experience it, so I push it away. According to Sarno, anger that’s pushed away builds to become suppressed rage. And suppressed rage becomes physical illness…from back, neck and shoulder pain, to inflammation of all kinds, as well as digestive disorders, anxiety and depression. Pretty much any illness can be traced back, from Sarno’s perspective, to the unacknowledged pressure of being human…pressure placed upon us from without and from within.

Pressures from without seem more enormous than ever before. Worldwide economic, ecological, societal and political pressures are being pounded into our consciousness on a 24-hour news cycle, not to mention our own overwhelming personal challenges. How do we possibly examine all that? And then, of course, there are the subconscious, anger-inducing pressures from within: worry, self-criticism, guilt, fear, perfectionism, blame, and all kinds of stressful, negative thinking.

Early Sunday morning I got up and drove to the beach, with an aching back, a sore jaw from clenching my teeth during my sleep, and a mind overrun with thoughts, but determined to do something good for myself. As I made my way through the breathtaking, dawn-lit vistas of Malibu Canyon, the now iconic image of that little Syrian boy lying face down dead on another beach on the other side of the world flooded my psyche… and broke me in two. The juxtaposition of the agony and the ecstasy of this world, and the huge question of my responsibility to it, became so overwhelming in my heart that I just cried my eyes out all the way to the ocean. I can still feel it as I write this…the emotional surge that rises up in my throat, and the knee-jerk, intellectual tamping down of that feeling with all kinds of thinking instead – political thinking, blaming thinking, numbing thinking, even big-picture-wisdom thinking. That day, though, thinking of every stripe was washed out by the tidal wave of feeling that needed to happen.

I wonder if that is what we all need right now? Maybe what is trying to happen, what the pressure is all about is that our hearts are under pressure to break wide open, and we are scared to death to let them.

The Big SqueezeOne of my favorite Pema Chodron teachings is called The Big Squeeze: that realization on the spiritual path of the large gap between our spiritual ideals and the far less than ideal reality of our daily lives. It’s breakdown time, examination time, transmutation time. We look at ourselves, not with finger-pointing or throwing in the towel, but with great curiosity and compassion. We feel ourselves, including all the previously hidden parts, both ugly and beautiful. Who am I really? Not who I project myself to be, nor who I am striving to be, but who am I, right this minute? Am I worthy, just as I am? Can I stand in this squeeze, fall down and get up again, each time a little more fully awake and in love with this rich and raw human experience? Can I give over to the forging?

“It’s the rub between those two things – the squeeze between reality and vision – that causes us to grow up, to wake up to be 100 percent decent, alive, and compassionate. The big squeeze is one of the most productive places on the spiritual path and in particular on this journey of awakening the heart.” Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty.

Blessings, my friends. We are in this together. Let us hold each other tight.