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Holding the Paradox.
I can help you solve all your problems. The answer is simple; deceptively simple. It speaks volumes not only about the nature of life (and dealing with problems) but it also speaks intimate volumes about who we are and what consciousness actually is.
Are you ready? I’m glad that you’re reading this on your computer or phone, because if we were sitting together in person, over a cup of coffee (of course), you may reach out, slap me, and spill the coffee. And while I don’t, particularly, enjoy being slapped, that was some really, really good coffee.
The answer is you must learn to hold the paradox. It means accepting creative and cognitive dissonance. It means learning to be ok with not being ok. It means learning to identify friction; and learning to understand that this is all a natural part of the creative unfoldment of life.
Cognitive or Creative Dissonance is a state of growth, in which the one experiencing the cognitive dissonance often feels uncomfortable. So, if you are reading this article hoping to find comfort, I invite you to consider perhaps another definition of comfort: it’s not a comfort like a tuning out the world and being taken care of kind of comfort…that’s not really my message. My message is that the comfort at the end of cognitive dissonance is one of empowered growth. It’s the confidence that can arise from taking the necessary steps to work through your pain, suffering, or problems instead of running away from them.
Relax. It comes one step at a time – one day at a time.
This doesn’t mean wallow in painful experiences, just work through it. If you’re stuck in the mud, sometimes it’s really hard to get going. I know. I get it. I’ve struggled with crippling depression, anxiety, and could be considered high-functioning autistic due to my empathy and the codependant environment I experienced in my early childhood . It took me a lot of pain to finally take steps to get help, and to learn to first walk, then run myself. But if I hadn’t taken action, then I may have sunk.
So what kept me from sinking? I got upset. I got angry. And these emotions are motivating! Have you ever read the story of the 2 frogs that fell into the jar of buttermilk? One looked up at the opening of the jar, out of reach, and said “We’ll never jump up there! We might as well give up now.” That frog rolled over and drowned. The other frog, noticing that if she didn’t kick then she would drown, started kicking. She kicked and kicked and kicked until that buttermilk around her churned into butter. Resting a bit, she was overwhelmed with joy that her ferocious will to live turned into her way out of her buttermilk jar. She hopped out.
This fire is what is necessary to get out of the buttermilk jar. Keep taking action, keep moving, and your life will respond positively.
Cognitive Dissonance is feeling the cosmic pull between a version of you in the past, and who you are now. It also means feeling the cosmic pull between who you are now and who you are becoming. If you’re a growth-oriented human being, like me!, you must get used to this experience. In fact, I’ve learned to love this maddening in-between world.
Learning To Be Ok with Not Being Ok
It’s strange. There is a certain toxic rigidity in today’s positivity culture that is dangerous. Yes, there is something to be said about getting your mind right and thinking and saying positive things. But this also means that you need to take care of yourself by choosing a healthy outlet in which you can say whatever it is you need to say in order to express your emotions. Believe me; by delaying this natural emotional expression you are giving these emotions MORE weight than they need. They don’t just go away. They need an out.
Learning to be ok with not being ok is comes down to one word: Acceptance. The Paradox here is that Acceptance is the first step to change. If you want to change something, first you have to accept it for what it is. That means letting go of denial, or trying to paint over your problems. Realize that life has ups and downs. If you put on the brakes when you’re going downhill emotionally, you miss out on the momentum you’d receive from that experience that will end up propelling you forward.
It’s all part of the natural creative unfoldment of life
Life must have paradox in order to exist. Think about this: The fact that we are spiritual, limitless beings, experiencing limitation, is a profound paradox. Perhaps the most logical choice of a limitless being is to experience limitation. What else would an infinite being have to do with unlimited time?
How to detect paradox
As a fun excercise, keep an eye out for paradox: contradictions, contrast, juxtaposition. If you attune your mind to look for these things, you will begin to notice more and more in your world. Things that don’t seem like they go together, nevertheless going together. It’s a way that you can challenge your mind and stretch it. It is beneficial to stretch the mind like stretching a muscle, so that we can remain calm and pliable when the paradox approaches.
Phyliss Furumoto, Current Grandmaster of Usui Reiki, spoke about this experience. I had the rare privilege of training with her in San Francisco in May 2016. It was a beautiful workshop, the weather was sunny with a chill Pacific breeze. The workshop was mostly women, and I learned a lot about myself and how I fit into the world of Reiki. One of the things that stood out to me was that she focused on what she referred to as “creative dissonance”. The Reiki Grandmaster went on to speak specifically about using this in-between experience as a teacher for our own spiritual development. I was particularly impressed with the power with which she spoke about the very metaphysical subject of Reiki
Holding the paradox is the act of embracing the state of creative dissonance. Maybe it’s this grit, this grind (yes, I’m from Memphis), that is the grist for the mill of growth.
The paradox of being and becoming
Simply being a human being IS a paradox! We are spiritual beings – we are souls – AND we are also bodies. It’s not “i am my body” or “I am a soul, not a body” it’s BOTH. In Plato’s “Timeaus”, the speaker talks about being and becoming – a recommended read (warning: it gets OUT THERE).
Toaism and Paradox
The Toaist text the I Ching outlines that there are only really two energies – Yin, and Yang. However, life is often more complicated than this. You can have Yin within Yin. You can have Yang within Yin. You can also have Yin within Yang, and Yang within Yang. Make sense?
Without going into too much complicated detail (I’ll leave that to you if you feel like diving in on your own time), the ancient chinese described 62 archetypal states of consciousness that exist between the two absolute polarities Yin and Yang. These are the 64 states of being outlined by 64 hexagrams (symbols)
Contained in between total Yin and total Yang – are 62 shades of grey. These are the wonders, hopes, dreams, fears, and failures of human experience.
The Toaist seeks to understand that every human experience outlined by the symbolism of the 64 hexagrams is another way of observing the paradox. If we observe the unfoldment of the universal flow, we have a choice. We can look at it with disdain, perturbed and judgemental; we can look at it neutrally, objective and aloof, or we can look at it with love, smiling and grateful.
To hold the paradox is to understand that, while a problem may seem overwhelming, you can work towards a better tomorrow without leaving the problem or checking out completely. And remember: it’s healthy to be able to experience your emotions as you work through a problem.
Throughout this journey of understanding the value of holding the paradox, remember to go easy on yourself. Life should, and often is, easy. It is in trying to do too much, be too much, or control too much that we can trip ourselves up. Remember that paradox is a part of life, and the more we can accept this, the more we can align ourselves with it, and the more we can understand about ourselves and conscoiusness itself.
Until Next Time,