Running calms my mind, it clarifies my thoughts and distills decisions. On a run last week through Surprise Valley, a place now softening with spring, and blooming under a big, expansive bright blue sky, I felt myself pulled upward, pulled into that big blue sky. Expanding. I felt drawn to step into something bigger, a new version of myself that is emerging. It felt exhilarating, and beautiful, and meaningful, and terrifying all at the same time.
I feel big change, big shifts, are underway in our world. Near a budding pear tree at the north end of the valley, I stopped to take in the view. I glanced down at my watch and all the numbers across it read 1:11:11. Because of my particular meditation practice, this number has significance for me. I took it as a sign that I am right where I need to be, and to continue with courage, on this path.
It sounds easy, just let it happen, right? But it isn’t a straight line, a straight path, I am learning. Shedding old identities, old patterns, old relationships and habits is hard. Really hard. It is a death. And I need time to grieve. To let go of who I was. Just when I think I am done, a new wave hits, and down I go again. Sometimes it takes all the strength I have, but I always get back up.
My own process helps me understand how hard it is, for the people I work with in Holistic Management, to manage the outcomes of shifting beliefs, behaviors, patterns, businesses, our whole lives. Nothing is left undisturbed.
Holistic managers begin to go through these upheavals when they see the world holistically. We all need to support each other on our journeys through these transitions.
It is hard. Good friends make it easier, make it possible to keep going when we want to quit. When it is cold, bleak and lonely, and the tears just don’t stop.
Through my trauma recovery work, I am reading the work of Eckhart Tolle, specifically The Power of Now and A New Earth (I highly recommend both). In his work Tolle describes the ego as a mental construct that responds to the world around us. It gives us form. If taken too seriously, it can interfere with the joy of being—our natural state. The ego wants power and control, it forms our perceptions, our thoughts, our fears. Our emotions are responses to our thoughts. So the way we see the world, events, other people, is a construct of our mind. If we can step out of that, or see beyond it, we can live more fully—with more freedom, joy, connection, fulfillment, health and well-being.
The ego is dissolved in the presence of awareness. Thus, the first and most important step is to recognize when you are working (acting and doing) from a place of the ego. Tolle says instead, working (doing) should be rooted in being. This reminds me of the practice in Holistic Management of creating a holistic context and making decisions in alignment with it. The holistic context is a description of being (of living in joy, freedom, connection, harmony), and our decisions are us “doing” from a deeply rooted place of “being.”
It is the springtime rush in our West Coast Intermountain region, when Jackie and Olivia are working long hours each day, making their way across California conducting EOV monitoring, when Andrea and Tony are gearing up for 10 days of a Holistic Management Intensive course at Rainshadow Organics, when Spencer is flying to Georgia to teach holistic planned grazing for our friends at White Oak Pastures, when our neighbors in Surprise Valley are branding and turning cattle out on the rangelands, the apricot trees are blooming, spring gardens are planted, horses shed their winter coats, chicks hatch, and ranchers, farmers and gardeners get that first unexpected spring sunburn. I feel the spring rush of activity takes my awareness away from being, and allows me to return to acting from a place of power and control, of ego. To “just get it done.”
Then, I remember my friend Tre Cates, from nRthythm saying, “rushing is an excuse to do the wrong thing.” And I know the right thing to do is to slow down, get clear on what is really important, and act from a place of being, instead of trying to control the flush of new life, the flush of activity all around us, and force it in a direction I want it to go.
There is a space, a brief moment, between stepping on shaky new legs into a new way doing (rooted in being), and falling back into habits of acting from separateness, of superiority, of power and control (which the ego likes). If we are aware, we will see it. In that precious moment, we have a choice. This is the moment when change happens. Or doesn’t. We choose. There isn’t shame in choosing resistance, power and control toward life around us. But rest assured we will experience the same pattern, the same loop again, and again (which is exhausting), until we choose differently, until we really want something better.
Driving to Union, Oregon yesterday, I listened to Tolle describe what happens when we label, define, put life into a box, when we then act as if our definition of it is its entire being. He described a bird, a tree, another human being. All of it can never be fully understood. This is the beautiful mystery of life, and when we label it, we flatten it. It is ok to use words, and labels and definitions, but realize they are limited. There is more beyond them.
The moment he said that, I was in Lakeview, Oregon, on the north end of town, ready to accelerate into the long stretch of open, deserted highway between Lakeview and Burns, Oregon.
But there was traffic. In Lakeview? No way. There were flashing lights directing traffic, and a long line of cars. It was a funeral. Due to the pandemic, I hadn’t seen a gathering of people a long time. I was glad the traffic moved slowly passed the cemetery. I watched the procession with awe. The black dresses, the dark suits, the flowers. People standing together.
I was reminded of the impermanence of life, of the beautiful mystery, we are all part of. The plans we make, the things we buy, the possessions we work so hard to control and protect—we don’t take any of it with us. As scary as it may be to change, I am choosing it. Now. Because the alternative is that life passes without growth or transformation. That, to me, is more heart-breaking than the fear and pain of shedding old identities, and stepping into a life rooted in my truth, in being wholly, imperfectly, me.
Please know in your process of change, we are here to support you. The more I learn, I realize the less I know, so I don’t promise we have answers, or quick fixes, for what you are going through. But we do have a practice of making decisions rooted in being, and the grace of friendship that allows us all to “mess up” again and again, until the lesson is learned.
And enjoy this crazy ride together.
I am grateful for you, and am at your service, my friends.