Ripples #1239: Making Room for Messiness


People have all kinds of sides to them, and some sides are messy. The point isn’t to push the bad stuff away; it’s to make room for it, to live with it.
-Jin Lee (Mei’s father) in Disney Pixar’s Turning Red


Grapes must be crushed to make wine.
Diamonds form under pressure.
Olives are pressed to release oil.
Seeds grow in darkness.
Whenever you feel crushed, under pressure, pressed, or in darkness, you’re in a powerful place of transformation.
Trust the process.
-Damian Lillard, shared by Ryan in San Luis Obispo, CA


I’ve been meditating regularly for most of my life and yet I’ve never thought of myself as very good at it because UGH my monkey mind just doesn’t like to be still. Distractions pop up almost constantly, and no matter how many times I’ve been reminded that befriending our distractions is part of the process, my first instinct to judge them as a sign that I’m doing something wrong.

Until this morning!

Moments before sitting down to assemble this week’s Ripples, I completed a thirty-minute sit and discovered my relationship to the distractions had shifted. They still showed up, just like they always do. This time, though, instead of frowning and futzing…well, I just smiled and made room for them.

I’m still glowing from the experience, and also eager to share the movie and the book that I think helped create this shift. I’ve already referenced the movie in today’s Pebble: Pixar’s Oscar-Nominated Turning Red, which I found to be a fun and fresh take on the familiar coming of age tales that dive into the many challenges of growing up.

The book, Already Free: Buddhism Meets Psychotherapy on the Path of Liberation, unpacks a way to look at the messiness that is an inevitable part of our lives. The author, Bruce Tift, suggests that the most effective way to resolve our fears and judgments is to first embrace them. He breaks down seven stages of dissolving our “internal divisions.” They begin with recognizing and tolerating, and then moving into accepting, liking, and even welcoming them. The ultimate stages find us making a commitment and even <gasp> falling in love with the very parts of ourselves that we seek to vanquish.

That’s what I think happened while I was meditating this morning: I fell in love (or at least “in like”) with the distractions. And I’m pretty sure that changing my relationship to them is really a way of changing my relationship to myself.

So what’s going on inside of you right now? Is there some messiness that you could make room for…whether that means to welcome, or maybe just try to tolerate? Give it a whirl, and let me know how it goes.


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