Last July, during a retreat, i worked with Susan Skye to deepen my sense of self-worth. We explored what was getting in the way. I experienced quite a transformation from ashamed to feeling fully alive in a very exuberant way – energy bubbling over. It’s a wonderful feeling and, frankly, a bit addictive because it just feels oh so good!

Today, i did some work with an empathy buddy on feeling lonely and generally off. When i tried to dip down into my longing for connection, i would instead activate lots of self-judgments. I shouldn’t feel this way. There’s something wrong with me for feeling this way. I am a total failure for not being able to resolve this longing. My buddy coached me into exploring what connection means to me. Other needs surfaced: trust, support, and safety. We zeroed in on safety. It turned out underneath that need was the need for aliveness. I wanted to feel alive!

My buddy asked if i felt alive right now. I paused. I did! It wasn’t the exuberant feeling of the past, it was laced with sadness – and yet, i could feel my body, i could feel my breath. I was clearly alive! And i was content with the way things were – with all the confusion and self-judgments.

After the call, i decided to explore the sadness that had welled up and got squashed by self-judgments. I sat down to meditate on this and quickly realized i wanted to curl up. So, i allowed myself to do that. As i lay there, my eyes caught the leaves on a tree outside. I spent quite a bit of time watching the leaves flutter in the wind, fascinated by such a simple thing (and, yes, fascinated by my fascination). I noticed how the sky started to become blue as the fog was burning off.

When i finally got up, i felt grouchy at first – judging myself for having wasted time and judging myself for not wanting to do anything other than just be. I noticed i was hungry, so i started making lunch. As i was preparing lunch, i realized that i was fully there. Feeling the weight of the pan, smelling what was cooking. Tasting the bread that was oh so delicious. I am fully connected to the moment – even now, as i feel the warmth of the laptop on my legs and the movement of my fingers on the keyboard.

What i learned during the empathy call today was something i had understood intellectually before. I have read about it and i’ve heard about it. Feeling alive does not always mean being exuberant, flowing with happiness and energy. Feeling alive comes from being with whatever is there in the moment. Right now. Right here. And if that’s sadness or loneliness, i can connect to that and through that connection touch my aliveness fully.

As i continue to watch my inner weather, i am noticing how more and more energy is coming in. The simple lunch i made is delicious. I have no desire to multitask (i sat the plate with the greens aside to type this). It feels a bit odd, unfamiliar. Maybe i am going crazy. Or maybe the work i’ve been doing over the last year or so is finally starting to bloom – with my reactivated mindfulness meditation practice furnishing the compost full of nutrients that gave the seeds the energy to blossom. Whatever it is, i am hoping that the next time i feel off, i will remember to explore it, truly feel it, rather than trying to run away from it.

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