Getting Friendly with the Mess

Life is so messy. All of our best attempts to harness it, predict it, get a handle on it, seem to be short lived. I know, because I have a lot of experience with this. All my best plans, programs, schedules and attempts to feel more prepared, more in control, more competent, are constantly defied by the messiness, the beautiful chaos, of life.

So today, for example, I feel the desire for things to have gone differently, to have accomplished more, and try to be curious, to see if I can be aligned with it, present to it. I try to stop and do this one little thing – be present – and hold off on strategizing for tomorrow’s improvements to my control plan.

This is not an easy thing: to remember not to get caught up in the urgency of fixing, to be present to myself, to notice the judgmental thoughts, to pause and sense the way my breath is trapped high in my chest and that my feet don’t seem connected to the ground, to feel the constriction in my shoulders and the terror rising in my throat.

I can perhaps feel into it and say a prayer, to help myself be with the suffering more easily:

May I and all others who suffer this, know peace.

I can keep coming back to the obvious conflict between what I know at a deep level:

My current reaction is not about this apparent problem.

and what my body and mind seem to be screaming at me:

This is unacceptable! It cannot be allowed to continue! How are you going to stop this!

And tomorrow will come. Perhaps I’ll be a little wiser. Perhaps I’ll get some insight into this pattern. Perhaps not. Perhaps I’ll be a tiny bit more comfortable with the mess and the lack of control. Perhaps it’ll be a bit easier to notice that life goes on, and I seem to have what I need in each moment, even if it’s not my mind’s idea of what I need to be or have or do. And maybe a little of that will rub off on those around me, and they’ll even know a tiny bit more of peace because of it. I hope you’ll join me in practicing pausing in this way.




About Cynthia M Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who offers somatic psychotherapy, spiritual coaching, and meditation and mindfulness instruction.
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