Practice does not make perfect, thank goodness. Practice informs the practice. If we pay attention, lean into what we are discovering and allow ourselves to be in the place of not knowing or in the space before the naming, just long enough for an awareness to arise, shift to happen, peace to arrive, clarity to emerge. Maybe just one of those things, maybe none of them, but something that signals to us that a shift has happened, is happening, within us.
This is all part of hosting self. Like you, I don’t have it all figured out. I’m in the thick of learning every single day. Learning to be in my experience in any given moment – the moments I enjoy and the ones I’d rather not be in.
This is not always an easy practice, particularly in those days when we are experiencing challenge. Hosting self is only something we can draw on in those times when we really need it if we have been in the practice on a regular basis. In the practice on the days we don’t think we really need it. Days that are inspired, beautiful, peaceful, joyful. And on the days that are just kind of blah. If we are not in the practice during those days, on the days when hosting self is most needed to help reground and centre we will have no practice from which to draw on.
There are wearying days . Even for people in regular, ongoing practice. When I posted that sentiment on Facebook recently – that sometimes this hosting self thing is wearying before it transmutes into peacefulness and joy, someone asked me what I do to host myself. A beautiful invitation into a little reflection and exploration.
There are a number of practices I cultivate on a regular basis to draw from on those days I most need to host myself. In the midst of feeling challenged or feeling hooked, hosting myself usually starts with a noticing that I’m feeling “off” or hooked, acknowledging something is “rumbling” in me that I have not yet named and am not yet able to articulate with any clarity.
In the soonest moment I can – which might be immediately or in a few hours or after a few days – I become curious and invite myself into a little bit of sensing to see if I can source what’s been triggered in me.
It is important to acknowledging that whatever’s been triggered, whatever is rumbling, it doesn’t have to completely influence everything else that is happening in the moment or my day, week or month. It is simply one thread, not the only thread. If I allow myself to notice, I may also notice that many of the other threads are light, positive, purposeful, delightful. It is okay to absorb those threads too. Just because one “rumble” might need some of my attention, it is not a disservice to it to still allow in joy and light.
I’m not sure why those moments of challenge call so loudly for attention we think we need to cloak ourselves in them. We don’t. We can learn whatever it is we need to know without becoming lost in it. Most of us have become so conditioned to going full on into it we have to teach ourselves to slow down and broaden our view with deliberateness. We also need to give ourselves permission to relax a bit and to treat ourselves with compassion. As we sense into what’s going on we can also sense into what form of hosting self is being called forth within us. There are many possibilities. Here I offer a few I personally draw on with regularity. You may also have some of these and likely you have many more of your own.
Physicality is a good antidote to those off moments. Sometimes I run or do other exercises. Aside from wanting to enjoy a certain degree of health, mostly I crave physical exercise or movement to take me out of my head and into my body, to release tension or let my body have the movement it craves. When I start to run or exercise, my mind is still often on whatever challenge has my attention. I need to remind myself to let go of the thoughts or to intentionally bring in thoughts and images that will make me feel better. Usually surrendering into the moment allows images or symbols to arrive on their own that contain beauty, joy and meaning.
Meditation is a great way to host yourself. It’s not as difficult as most of us think. There are many approaches, no one right way and, thankfully, perfection is not required. I meditate almost every day even if for just a few minutes and usually for fifteen to thirty minutes. It’s a great way to start and/or end a day. Often I use a guided meditation because it helps to keep me in my meditation longer – even if I am not always (or even usually) tuned into the words, I know they are getting through to my unconscious. In the moments I lose focus I am less likely to go into full distraction mode and get up and go do something else after just a couple of minutes.
One of my practices is to devour all the positive reflections, mantras and good news messages I can, to really absorb them – especially in those moments I’m feeling off. It is amazing what they can do to lighten my spirit when I allow it.
Gratitude and appreciation are two amazing counter acting forces to those rumbling, grumbling, or worse kinds of days. I remind myself of all the things I’m grateful for, the path I’ve journeyed, how far I’ve come. There is an abundance of things to be grateful for and they are a good reminder of how things always work out and sometimes in surprising ways. It is helpful to remind myself I don’t have to have the how of it all figured out in order to begin. Time over time I discover that when I let go of the how, miracles really do happen.
Journaling is a beautiful way to reflect. Just sitting to write for a few minutes in stream of consciousness can shed light on whatever has been triggered, make patterns and themes visible and bringing new insights that create the space to release what has been troubling us.
Finding a friend willing to listen with curiousity and compassion, without judgment. Just to be there. Not even to offer advice and certainly not to commiserate with us in a way that keeps us stuck. Sometimes in talking it out, insights arise that help us move forward or understand how to address an issue or challenge or conversation in a way that serves us and whoever or whatever may have triggered us.
Tarot cards, prayer or other spiritual practices are another way of hosting self. Anything that helps us be more present and aware.
It is good, almost essential, to remember that what’s happening in this moment is transitory and doesn’t make me – or you – a dismal failure, just like successes do not lead to infallibility or guru-ness, just real human beings doing the best we can every day. Some days are better and more masterful than others, but it’s all there in the mix. Just people on a journey with good, delightful moments and challenging moments too.
All in the flow of things. There is far more flow of things when we are in a regular ongoing practice of hosting self. How do you host yourself? What are your practices? What do you come back to over and over again that helps you regain your ground or stay centered? Where you grow your self awareness, your curiosity and your self compassion?
Hosting self is an integral aspect of being able to host others. It is the first practice in the Four Fold Practice for a reason. It is a beautiful inquiry to be in every day and in any given moment – not by making yourself a self improvement project but by surrendering into the unfolding journey.