Those Hiding Places

“Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you, as a fish out of water hears the waves…Come back. Come back. This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.” – Rumi


Today I am in a vividly beautiful natural environment at my main venue for teaching in Marin County, California. I am amongst the redwoods and the warm sunshine supporting a group of students to explore the creative process through various modes of art-making. Even though I am working, I have space to breathe and feel myself nourished in body and spirit. In this moment, I feel very alive.

This is a contrast to the days I experience stress when trapped in my schedule, and compelled to stay plugged in to my many modes of electronic communication. In this state, I get can stuck in a loop of intense activity, and function on autopilot. ‘I need to stay productive’ is what my mind repeats, and get stuff done. Sometimes this is true, yet there are other days when time slips away and I realize that I am bypassing my needs and missing out on life. It is a form of hiding, being caught in a vortex of ‘doing’. It is subtle, this problem of mine. It is not extreme day to day, but since my history involves addictive patterns of behavior where I have caused harm to myself, I try to pay attention. Author Glennon Melton Doyle states, “…Addictions are safe little hiding places where sensitive people retreat from love and pain. No one can touch us there, so we feel protected. But since love and pain are the only things that can grow us, we start dying as soon as we hide.” It takes a lot of effort to be awake in a world full of distractions, and a whole lot of pain. I strive to stay mindful and practice what I preach in regards to recovery and healing. As my work involves presence, supporting people to be more creative and awake and move out of stuck places, I really feel the contradiction when I lose my center and start feeling compulsive or depleted. I can forget what connects me to a sense of well-being, and having practices to ‘remember’ is key for me.

From my personal experience and my work with others, I have compiled a checklist that can serve as red flags in regards to those small but potentially troubling hiding places. I find it is time for a recharge when I am:

  1. getting stuck in thoughts, specifically worries, resentments and regrets thus losing a sense of physical and emotional balance.
  2. checking email, Facebook and other social media with intense regularity for connection or attention.
  3. not being honest about emotions and real life concerns, instead pushing them away or denying their existence.
  4. bingeing on movies and TV series as the main source of relaxation.
  5. working when it is time to unplug, i.e., eat, sleep, play, be with people in my life who I care about.
  6. eating when I am not hungry, and not realizing that there are other things I am truly hungry for such as connection, affection, relaxation, etc.
  7. isolating myself and staying at home when it is time to go out and engage even if it just means taking a walk or going to the grocery store.
  8. fantasizing about how life ‘should’ be rather than facing reality as it is and not being able to appreciate what I do have.

It is not easy to change habits and I have embraced the fact that there is no perfect balance. I come in and out of hiding, and at times distraction can provide a necessary respite. The key factor for me is remembering that I want to savor my life as much as possible, and enjoy this sensory world full of light, sound, immense creativity and the special people I get to share it with.

Exercise to Recharge:

Reflect on this question in writing: What makes me feel most alive and connected to myself and the world around me? Based on your answer, make a list of a few simple things you can do to enhance your well-being and get out of hiding this month. Send me your reflections if you like – I always love to hear responses to my blogs. AND – If you feel trapped in a more significant rabbit hole, reach out to me and let’s see how I might support you.

Self-Published July  2017