This is our last week of thoughtfulness on the topic of Wisdom, so let’s dive into the messy subject of compulsion versus wisdom.
Let me start by saying that I have personally never meet anyone who does not carry a set of unhealthy reactions to their compulsions (including me!). We all have compulsions, even those from a ‘blessed’ lineage; gurus, shamans, healers, religious/spiritual leaders.
The problem isn’t that we have compulsions, it is that we often confuse them with our deep knowing, our wisdom, and we continue with our status quo. What further exacerbates the issues is that when we question our compulsions from our usual frame-of-mind, we receive an affirmative answer that tells us “all is well”…when in fact, our thoughts are un-well, and our behaviors are unhealthy.
So, if we each carry our own unique compulsions, ones we often mistake for wisdom, how do we discern the difference? This is where thoughtfulness & stillness offer themselves as teachers.
EXHIBIT A: ME!
I will use myself as an example…because I have plenty of examples! 🙂
When I am most certain about how I should respond to a situation, I find I am often confusing compulsion for wisdom and I react in unhealthy ways. I am often guilty of being certain of my compulsions because they feel so familiar…but that is exactly what compulsion is! Compulsion is the familiar, habitual reaction to everyday life…wisdom is very, very different.
So, instead of continuing on this compulsive path, I now allow time to pass before I respond, even if I have only a few minutes or hours, I allow myself moments of thoughtful-stillness.
Once I feel myself relax into a natural state of effortlessness, I gently bring a few questions of curiosity into play, “do I generally react in the same way to this situation? is my reaction healthful for all involved? is there a more healthful response?”
In the many years that I have been practicing the art of discovering wisdom outside of compulsion, I have found that if I sit in thoughtful-stillness before I act, I always alter my response. There are times when I discover my initial response is appropriate but my delivery is too harsh, forceful, angry, etc. There are other times when my initial reaction is dead wrong, even toxic, and based solely on compulsion…and I am so relieved when I see this before I react!
It is only by sitting in thoughtful-stillness that I discover that what I initially feel is my deepest wisdom is actually a compulsive habit so ingrained in my psyche that I cannot discern the two from my usual frame-of-mind.
I know all of our lives are busy and we often do not have more than a few minutes or hours before we need to respond. If you find yourself in this situation, quickly retire to the quiet of your car/office/park bench/toilet!, and relax into thoughtful-stillness. Even a few moments makes a difference!
This tiny choice to seek deeper understanding of your inner world may not make a discernible difference at first, but if you continue doing so, with curiosity and patience, you will more readily discover the natural effortlessness of your being: a place from which you can seek to live your life beyond compulsion.
And remember, the wisdom you initially discover may not feel familiar to you, but you will come to understand wisdom differently from compulsion because it arises from a place deep within the body, not the mind; wisdom arises from a place that does not judge, does not harm, and does not seek to be right.
When I first began to seek my inner wisdom I experienced it arising from a place beyond right and wrong: a quiet assuredness within me, that arose alongside loving kindness.
Less act. More be.