“When it gets harder to love, let’s love harder.” ~ Van Jones
I am sure that, by now, you have heard about this powerful invitation by Van Jones at the March in Washington DC, last Saturday. With three (new) little foster kids with special needs living with me since the beginning of the month, “loving harder” is something that I have been led to practice every single moment of every single day. Loving them is easy when everything is “fine” (which is quite rare with my current trio!); real love starts when it is really hard and you feel that you have reached your absolute limits. That’s what is asked of all of us now, no matter who we are and where we are on the political spectrum or even on the planet: to embrace fierce love as a radical way of being with each other in this place and time. Nobody said it was easy. But I am personally willing to try, over and over, even when it does not seem to work, or when I feel like I am “failing” – specially in those moments. This is also at the heart of any practice that is intended to support deep change from within.
Practicing is “easy” when all is well. We don’t seem to be struggling as much with our minds when we meditate. We “feel” something when we try to ground ourselves or do any kind of visualization. We have a sense of “connecting” with others, nature, or something bigger than ourselves. In other words, it “works” and so we are inclined to continue doing it. That is great. But the real work is actually when we don’t “feel” anything, when we have to keep at it, to keep repeating the same daily practices that we know support us. We have to trust the process, even when we can’t feel its results. Because, one day, we will. One day, our mind/body/soul will remember, and we will feel back into center, in alignment, or simply get the sense that we have reached a better place.
Recent research in neuroscience has shown us how we could alter the cognitive and emotional processes that directly affect our ways of being. And it works. But, for it to work, we need to practice. Just that: practice, every single day. It is just the way we are wired as human beings. All of us, even the most “enlightened” among us. Research concerning these extraordinary individuals also shows that they are among those who practice the most on a daily basis, very much the same way high level athletes and performers can’t stop training on a daily basis, just because they would have reached their top level.
Miracles happen. Sudden shifts happen. But for them to last, we need to support the process and nurture the good, so that we don’t reverse into old thoughts patterns, i.e. old neuropathways. For this, we need some types of rituals that we can fit in our daily routine, and that reaffirm to our brain the choices that we make and the path that we want to take. More dramatic and even climactic events (such as a healing, an initiation, a large gathering, etc.) can be very supportive. They can uplift and bring very powerful memories, but their effects can also be very short term. So we need our routines and regular practices to also support us.
It is work, yes, but it is so worth it. It helps us find and cultivate our peace within, and opens up the possibility to choose what we want to govern our lives (love over hate, for instance), particularly when everything around us is challenging. And when things get harder, we practice harder.
So if you feel worried or discouraged right now, remember: now is not the time to give up on the things that have been helping you be the loving and caring person that you want to be. Now is the time to tend to your inner self and keep doing the things that you know to be supportive to your heart and soul. Now is the time to practice harder and love even harder.
Béatrice | Contemporary Shamanic Healer
Allowing The Light