A few weeks ago I had a silent retreat at New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur. For a couple of days I watched the ocean and listened to birds. I paid attention to my dreams and went on long walks down a steep winding road that snakes its way through scenic vistas of undulating mountains spilling onto the shoreline. It was externally blissful.
Internally, storms raged.
Particularly noticeable was my stormy self-talk: alternating waves of judgment and anxiety (negative fantasizing about the future). No wonder I had been so stressed. My mind was seething with fearful, self-shaming chatter. Was this really the inner dialog of my daily life? Yes.
I watched the ocean with my eyes, and with consciousness I watched my mind generate its turbulent weather patterns. I realized the ridiculousness of my own mind's content and how miserable it had made me. With each breath, I released another wave of fear or self-criticism into the ocean.
And then something amazing happened. I looked out at the ocean and experienced an infinite Love. The mind receded, and and an unconditional, limitless, judgment-free LOVE emerged.
Yet, I knew this was not new. I've been surrounded by it my whole life. It's everywhere. It's what I breathe. It's the ocean in which I swim. Suddenly I knew this to be true in a way I had not known before.
Now, a few weeks removed, I know something more. I am the ocean. I am that Essence in which the judgment, anxiety, bliss, and forgiveness all arise....and recede.
That means I have the ability to "just say no" to the internal crazies. I hold them in love as wounded parts in need of healing. I neither become nor destroy them; I just parent them and watch them splash around, while I remain the oceanic embrace.
Today is the Winter Solstice. Nighttime has reached its peak. But this is only one perspective. The sun is the same brilliance every day. The tilt of our orbiting Earth either embraces or evades the light of the sun.
Your brilliant Essence never waxes or wanes, yet you can choose whether to embrace of evade it. You can choose your self-talk and inner dialog. Which way will you tilt in the new year?