Let's say you're on your third try at something (painting a picture, cooking a new dish, pursuing a business endeavor, going on a first date, etc.), and it all goes horribly wrong...AGAIN! What is your typical reaction? Do you get really frustrated and throw your hands up, throw the towel in, and throw the whole idea away? A lot of us do! It's not easy trying to get something going only to have everything fall apart repeatedly.
A very typical reaction is to cast our efforts aside, i.e. "I'm never going to be a great artist, good cook, successful entrepreneur, or in a relationship. I guess that's for other people but not for me." And so, we give up and move on, not realizing how in our mind we are limiting ourselves, clipping our wings, and keeping ourselves small.
I am reminded, here, of a story I once heard at a spiritual talk given by former SRF Monk, Tom Kelly. Once there were two men at a lake. One was fishing, and the other was on a walk around the lake. The man who was walking observed that the fisher would catch small and big fish, but he would only put the small fish in his bucket and return the big fish into the lake. After a while, the observer asked the fisherman why he only kept the small fish and threw the big ones back in again. The fisherman replied that he only had a small frying pan, so he couldn't fry the big fish.
This is a perfect example of how our mental constructs can limit us in our daily lives and aspirations. Our ego wants to keep us small and feeling unworthy.
What if, instead of limiting ourselves to just 'one small frying pan', i.e. giving up on ever being in a relationship or having a business, we take a step back and retreat from the situation. It can be a formal kind of retreat, in which we go to a retreat center, or it can be a mini-retreat at home. For example, we can spend an hour at our home altar chanting, meditating, painting a mandala, and lighting incense. We can totally withdraw from the scene of frustration and go within. This honors our Divine Feminine, or Yin, aspect and puts us in a state where we can just BE, without thinking about all the frustrating problems happening in our life.
When we are just BEing, we are limitless and in a state of receiving. This is when we get inspirations. What is it that your inner voice has been telling you to do over and over again? Does it make you feel good to think about it? Does it bring you joy to talk about it? What are you passionate about? What makes your eyes light up? When your inner voice inspires you, you will know it's authentic because it will make you feel excited and good.
So, after retreating from the limiting constructs of the mind, we take a step back and move into BEing, holding space in this state of expansiveness for new ideas. And once we have those inspirations, we can begin to take action and move forward, step-by-joyful-step.
--Erika Marie Rose, 2018