This is an article that I wrote, and was published in the Inner Tapestry, a New England based, holistic magazine, about three years ago. This topic is still something I have to work on every day!
My Struggle: To Be or Not to Be
Paul W. Knoll, M.A.
As I travel back to Maine after some college visits with my senior daughter, I find myself asking these questions during some writing time: How do I want my life to feel as each day unfolds? How do I want my life to be reflected back to others? How do I want to walk the path on which I awake each morning?
Sometimes I have these feelings. There are moments when the criticisms of the past no longer penetrate my heart and soul. I feel moments when worldly stresses, like finances, no longer feed my hunger for carbohydrates (mmmm, love those tortilla chips!) as a means of coping. I feel moments when the guilt of a failed marriage no longer carries any emotional weight.
I feel moments when the love I have for everyone in my life is insurmountable and truly unconditional. I have moments when I do not buy into the frantic pace of our Western culture, and I actually sit still just to be still. I have moments when my compassion for whomever I am sharing that particular moment is all-encompassing and truly heart driven.
There are moments when every thought I have, every feeling I have, and every action I take is deeply connected to all of the love within me and all of the love that surrounds me in nature, plants, animals, earth, and sky.
And then there are moments when fear has a firm grip on me. These are the moments when I worry about my daughters, revisit some of my decisions, question my role on this earth, or wonder about finances. Many worries creep into my mind and play out as an unsettled stomach or clinched teeth or eating too many chips!
And, so this is my struggle: love, trust, and faith vs fear. Three against one! Fear should lose with those odds, and, yet, its grip can be strong at times.
How have I worked my way through this struggle? How has fear slowly but steadily lost it’s grip on me? Well, William Shakespeare’s most famous literary quote holds the answer for me, “To Be Or Not To Be.” The answer is simple, yet wonderfully profound. “Be. Just Be.”
For the past 18 months, I have been fairly dedicated to the practice of meditating or journeying (a Shaman tradition) on a daily basis. This practice can take place in several different forms for me: drumming, silence, flute playing, writing, journeying, or visualization. Each session is 10-30 minutes long, sometimes longer, of allowing me to just be. It is during these moments when I am able to completely connect with the deepest part of my soul, my essence, my heart, my higher self. It is during these moments when I feel the love that connects each of us, no matter who and where we are. It is during these moments when I feel complete trust and faith in God or Spirit and the Life that is being lived through my body.
There is no doubt in my heart that these moments of just being bring more calmness, peace, and love to the day as it unfolds. Even as I write this, which is helping me connect to my heart, I can feel the human worries drift away in silence.
One of the books that has helped in this journey of just being is Jon Kabat-Zinn’s, Wherever You Go There You Are. Kabat-Zinn artfully and plainly gives us permission and direction to mindfully meditate each and every day. He and I both agree that this practice has brought enrichment and joy to even the most mundane aspects of the day, and certainly has fostered peace, mindfulness, and calmness amongst the worldly chaos. Kabatt-Zinn also helped me to understand that meditating, or just being still does not have to take place in some strict form, that, indeed, there are many different ways to meditate or just be: yoga, chakra clearing, breathing exercises, visualization, and walking, just to name a few.
Being still for 10-30 minutes each morning has made a significant difference in how the day unfolds for me. Learning to journey, as taught to me by Maine’s Dory Cote, has helped me to connect each day with nature, earth, and my guides. The difference has been profound, and now I experience each day with gratitude for all that is within me, around me, and unseen by me.
Our spirits truly are amazing BEINGS. For me, understanding, loving, and trusting in my being in this world has been shown best to me by just being still on a daily basis.
To be or not to be? Just Be!
Thanks for listening,