As a child I was taught to end my prayers by asking for, “God’s will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Mathew 6:10. As above so below. As within so without. Macrocosm/microcosim. What does this really mean? These are words of mystics and are understood both to deeply meditative people and to scientists. For every action there is an equal reaction. In quantum physics the study of entangled particles is nearly beyond our comprehension but for me, raised in a biblical religious tradition, it is also familiar.
Our lives contain this quality. What we can see and observe about people and our selves is the macrocosm of our inner microcosm. Our outer lives reflect our inner lives. Outer clutter is an outward expression of inner clutter. The producers of the show Hoarders and my yoga teacher know this well. My teacher can see by my movements where I’m holding back, what chakra it’s related to and he encourages me to reach farther, stretch higher, work out my inner blocks to improve my outer yoga pose expression.
At my last Enlightenment Intensive retreat, on the 2nd day, we broke from our intense dyad meditations to do working contemplation. I usually loathe this part of the retreat. It’s the part where we get chores. I will say though as an aside, I have had some very meaningful breakthroughs in the silent working contemplation portion of the retreat- like it or not. This time I was assigned to clean the woman’s bunk room. As I vacuumed around each woman’s bunk, sometimes having to move their bags to do my work, I started to notice the very different ways each woman packed for the retreat. Some had things thrown together seemingly randomly in a duffle bag, some had their things spilling out all over the place. Nothing was organized or contained. Some had expensive luggage but were using a zip lock bag for toiletries. Some had very personal stuff, like prescription medications sitting out for all to see. Some over packed. I took note of my own possessions. Everything was contained in an appropriate container, I had a bag for my pillows. A cover bag for my yoga mat. My toiletries were in their own bag that matched my appropriately sized luggage. My pills and vitamins were organized in a pill box by day and stored in my toiletry bag. What stood out to me the most is that I have a bag or container for everything, each thing has a place and is contained in its place. While I could see that other people’s baggage said a lot about them, spilling all over, no shame, dis-organized. I wondered what my luggage was saying about me? Why is everything so contained? Why do I need everything to have its own place? Is it good that I am organized or is it OCD? I don’t have OCD. My father used to say everything should have a place and it should be in its place. This, I always thought was a good and right motto to live by.
Then I wondered – if how we are on the inside affects how we are on the outside – can it be that we can affect our inner self by behaving a certain way in our outer world? That old expression, “fake it till you make it” comes to mind. Will organizing your belongings help to bring order to your inner world? I believe it will. When all hell is breaking loose, my finances are crumbling or chaos and emotional drama are taking over my life – I clean my house. My physical house. Somehow having order in my physical space helps bring me back to a place of calm and sanity to deal with the inner chaos from an orderly place. I’m not saying I’m calm while I’m cleaning my house. I’m not. I’m frantic. Desperately trying to exert control over the one thing in my life that I can control. Usually barking at my husband or kids about why they’ve left this or that out
You know the prayer they say in AA. The one Sinead O’Conner used in her song. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” If I can’t change my bank account then cleaning the kitchen is where it’s at. As long as we have the strength and courage to start where we are and with what we can, everything else will be affected- eventually. We just have to affect what we can and trust it will all come together. Doing nothing means not trying. Throwing open the doors to our messy lives for all to see, traveling with our toiletries falling out of a zip lock bag and with clothes scrunched into some mis-matched luggage is an interesting place to be. I’m guessing that girl has chaos in her finances, in her relationship and in the glove box of her car. You know it’s a picture of her life on all levels.
In his work on Social Finance, Steiner said, “Finances are intrinsically related to the individual”. I had to experience this to understand it. I had just thrown a birthday party for my daughter’s 6th birthday. I had worked at my full time job all day then stayed up all night making hand made party favors and a cake that looked like a sand castle. I invited the whole class to a bounce house party at our church playground. After the party I volunteered to oversee childcare at a church event and then I stayed late to clean up and make sure the bouncy house got picked up by the party rental company. Hours after my husband left to take our daughters home to bed I was finally driving home when my car stopped. There I was in the first lane on the freeway at 9:00 at night, my car had completely run out of gas. I sat there and I embraced the present moment. I called a tow truck then I calmly checked in with myself. I said out loud, “I’m exhausted.” I checked in again and I said out loud, “I’m over extended”. Then in that moment, it hit me – I finally understood what Steiner was saying. There I was, over extended, exhausted and out of gas. Just like my finances. I was always over extended. And running on overdraft. From that day forward I committed to changing my behavior. To never over-extending myself. I was able to affect my finances by consciously changing my intrinsic pattern. I achieved a healthy work life balance and a healthy cash flow followed.
And so it is true that when trouble comes into our lives, circumstances we didn’t expect – it’s there to show us our inner life, like a mirror. It’s showing us a boundary we need to uphold, a care we need to have, an inner voice we’ve been ignoring. A pile of clutter we need to sort through. In our physical space and our energetic space. I believe everything does happen for a reason. It’s just not always a good reason.
When I walk into my kids rooms sometimes I see chaos, random toys and laundry all piled together. Other times I see that my daughter has neatly organized all of her dolls or cleaned and organized her room. These observations tell me a lot about where they are emotionally and energetically. I pay attention to these clues about their inner well being. My older daughter usually engages in organizing her room after she’s been sent to her room to calm down after having a melt down or tantrum. She finds healing and calm by organizing her room. She conquers her inner chaos through this outer activity.
I’m not sure my habit of keeping everything contained is a good sign of my inner self. I’m worried I’m too uptight and that I’ve compartmentalized everything. I might have to start letting my toiletries hang out with my socks. More freedom. I’ll let you know how it works out.