Water Practices at 3%
You can’t make wisdom happen. It’s not like “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go… onto the internet, to search 500 things…”
It doesn’t go that way. It’s a sitting in the dark that can’t be hurried. But boy, we can sure slow it down. And so we’re working with shifting the percentages inside of ourselves from being mostly actively slowing down our process of getting to the point where we know what to do.
I’m right here in this with you. There are many times when, as I inventory, “What am I doing? I am actively slowing down the process of getting to wisdom—by throwing fits, and doing this and that.
Start With Just 3%
Okay, at least we can be honest about it. Is there just a little bit of something that we could do half-assed 3%, to compassionately grab a few of the swing votes, and get them to commit to courting wisdom? Because I want to be very, very clear: You can’t dominate yourself into wisdom. You can’t make your neurology and endocrinology be different. You can’t be like: “Stillness!” You can’t. All progressive and purposeful neuro-endocrine shift, otherwise known as spiritual practice, is a matter of “Where are the swing votes here?”
I’m thinking of maybe one of the most dramatic examples of this, back when I taught classes in person. I took the train down to New York City. One time, I had been so sick with bronchitis and a sinus infection that kicked my ass so badly that I could barely make it onto the train. Then I was so scared that I would not make it from Grand Central Station to the apartment where I was staying. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to teach this class, with a very clear understanding that my fear that I would not be able to teach this class was the greatest vector for not being able to teach the class—and that the only thing that was going to make it possible for me to pull this off was to rest like never before.
We all know, right, how hard it is to rest when it’s make-or-break. Calm down! Right? It’s so hard. It’s so hard. I tried and I tried so hard… The bane of the water element, trying to relax: “Okay, I have to calm down, okay, I have to get beneath the fear!”
I did every single practice that I thought of to do: “I’ll do all of these things that I tell everybody to do. And I’ll really do them!”
It was just awful. It was just a wild flying potpourri of practices that did not help.
Then 3% more…
What I finally hit upon was the commitment to doing the practices only half-assed 3%. I said to myself, “I’m just gonna come half-assed 3% more down, and that’s it. Just a tiny bit more feeling into my bones. Where are those bones? I don’t feel any bones. I just feel this jitter. Can I find 3% bones, and not ask more of myself?
Then I’d wait five or ten minutes, and asked myself, maybe we can do half-assed 3% more again? We’re just working with the swing votes. We are not challenging anything that is in full bore, going “Rah rah rah” doing the other thing. Any swing votes, any little bit of me that can shift a little bit… and of course all the voices are saying, “You can’t shift a little bit; you’re gonna have to shift tremendously. You have to shift a lot. This is a big emergency! You have these practices don’t work unless you really DO THEM.”
But I’m here to tell you that it went really well. I took it 3% at a time, and every single time I started thinking, “Okay, it’s working; I’m really doing it now,” it stopped working. I had to keep sneaking up on it, the whole way.
Life in the dark. Okay. We can do that. We were built for it, for the dark times that come every year, to teach us how to live well in the dark.
To learn more about healthy winter darkness, explore Thea’s winter/Water seasonal resources.
To join the discussion, find us on my Perennial Medicine discussion listserv (all are welcome).