I began this post last week. At the time, I was in a rather gray place (note the photo I selected). I wrote: “I am in the post-New Year’s, post-move, mid-head-cold malaise. I am merging with a gray, dispirited world.” I was going to write about writing as my cure, and perhaps finding something worthy in those gray places.
Then I abandoned the post — after all, part of the problem with those gray spaces is that it’s hard to create, to move forward. I spent a few days slogging along and writing morosely in my journal, and then suddenly — without warning or clear antecedent — I opened up to my inner blue skies.
I feel enthusiastic, energized, lucky (about nothing in particular), and grateful (for everything).
We can’t help but have a value judgment: blue skies are better than gray; bright, positive moods are better than dark, dreary ones; and energy is better than lethargy. I would not deny that I feel much better in my present state and am eager to nurture and reinforce my mood. At the same time, I want to honor the other side of the emotional coin. It’s not that unhappiness or malaise offer me what I want (or is it possible that sometimes they do?) but that honoring one’s genuine self means leaving room for both the dark and light spaces.
In this still-young 2015, I am moving into two areas of continued study: tai chi and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). Perhaps it is no accident that I have written this post while taking steps in both these ventures.
Tai chi sees polarities as inherent in the world. It aims to bring the opposite forces of the universe — yin and yang — into harmony. Our capacity to move through these forces, rather than getting stuck or being overcome by an opponent, determines our grounding, strength, and health.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is part of the latest “wave” of psychology, following earlier behavioral and cognitive models. Its goal is to bring mindfulness to negative emotions and situations. Improved feelings and new patterns of behavior emerge from awareness, acceptance, and commitment to change. As with tai chi, ACT requires a willingness to be open to what is dark or distressing, what throws us off balance, what threatens our health and spirit. Both require focused attention, study, and commitment.
I did not plan ahead for 2015 to be a combination of these activities, but I find myself already within their sphere. They bring my body and mind together and offer a new personal-professional balance. They invite me to be present for my whole self, whatever the color of my inner world.
What color is your inner world today?
Questions for Reflection: How do you respond to your range of emotions and experiences? How do you relate to the concept of opposing forces and how you might live with them? What polarities do you see in your life?
Writing Prompts: “If I were more accepting of all my feelings, I probably would ______ (then keep writing); “In reading this post, I related most to the idea of ______” (then keep writing); “I would like to explore ______ as a way to create a more secure inner balance (then keep writing).