Feeding my Soul: The Call to Stand Still

My theme for 2011 is to feed my soul. To make sure that in the midst of all the hubbub and business of my business, I don’t forget to do those things that nourish me deeply, that open my heart, and that bring me back to life. To make that leap of faith that by putting my soul work first, my business will sustain me, even flourish beyond what I am achieving with all my hard work.

It’s hard for me.

I am so deeply wired to push hard, to do more. To fret with every business effort that I should have done more, sooner. To agonize over all and any gaps between what I aimed for and what I got. To push aside the part of me that wants to lounge, or rest, or play to get one more thing off my to-do list.

One of the practices I discovered last year that does feed my soul is the practice of learning poems by heart, and using them as my spiritual guides and teachers. (A practice I got to experience in person this fall with Kim Rosen, and which you can learn about more in her book, Saved By a Poem.)

Right now, I am working with the poem Lost, by David Wagoner.

The poem starts:

Stand still. The trees ahead, and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
and you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The truth is, there are moments in my life and in my business when I do feel lost. When I am confused. What program do I offer? To whom? At what price? Moments where I lose the trail. I can still see the bigger vision, but I am not clear how to move towards it.

When I read these lines, it stops me. It makes me take a breath. Stand still.

When I say these lines, it comforts me.

In my mad dash to get somewhere else, it’s a powerful reminder that I am already someplace, and that where I am now holds power, if I am willing to take the time to really feel and take it in. It tells me that even when I feel lost, the world around me is not, and I can find myself by paying attention to it.

Standing still does not come naturally to me. I have a gift for persuading myself that I don’t already have the things I desire. That there is some other place I must race to in order to be ok.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.

I release the breath I’ve been holding. I have found myself in this time, in this place the world has made this place around me. And if I choose to leave, I can return.

When I am tempted to skip my walk, when I question my desire to lie on my bed and read a book, when I sneak to my computer instead of hanging out with my son, and I feel that demon in me urging me to push harder, I say these lines:

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still.

If I can’t take in what I already possess in my life, how can I possibly find the way to contain more?

If the beauty, the joy, the richness of my own life is lost on me, I am surely lost. And no clients, dollars, speaking gigs, or public praise will bring me home.

How about you? Where do you struggle?
How have you learned to stand still?
How are you feeding your soul this year?