by Ruth Cherry, PhD
The Controller part of us knows how things ‘should’ be. She knows what’s right and what’s unacceptable and how we should look. She ‘has a vision’ which, she is sure, will make our lives turn out just the right way which will then lead us to happiness.
We listen to her and trust her during the first half of life. She gets us through school and work and child rearing. She focuses on behavior and activity and doing. And we garner some rewards. We fit in, our kids look fine, and we’ve achieved respectability. And then after a few years we say, ‘And what now?’
We can let the Controller keep pushing and positing goals for us and repeat the first half of life but really isn’t it a bit empty? There must be more to life than our minds can suggest. And then we realize we’ve benefitted as much as we can from the Controller. Now we need to listen to an as-yet-unheard-from part of us. In our quiet moments when we’re not too focused, we hear from our Hero.
The Hero is not ego-based or fear-based as is the Controller. The Hero lets go and surrenders and lives in a state of surrender. Life flows through her, she doesn’t direct life. And if she forgets that momentarily she breathes into that peaceful place inside, even if she can’t feel it at the moment (because she remembers that it’s there) and says , “I’m available.” She knows that the second half of life is for practicing attunement and she must check in regularly by meditating to practice that attunement. It’s not about success or acclaim. It’s simply experiencing her oneness with God.
At the end of the day the Hero gives thanks for experiences of God and she also gives thanks for everything else. She knows that disappointments are opportunities to move more deeply inside and to heal at a depth of consciousness that hasn’t yet been explored.
The Hero pays attention to the details of daily life in a non-proprietary way. She observes the patterns and the themes. She watches her feelings and reactions and releases them and lets them pass. She watches the outside world and notices the details that mirror the inside world and she breathes and surrenders. She appreciates the oneness of the world around her and the world inside. It’s all the same.
It is truly a Hero’s journey to maintain a constant state of attention and availability. When the Controller intrudes too loudly, the Hero gives her a job to do that is appropriate for a Controller–managing a project or organizing a closet or making a list. The Controller solves problems. The Hero keeps her focus on attunement and availability.
Owning our power is the greatest second-half-of-life challenge for everyone. What if I’m not good enough? What if I don’t know enough? What if I mess up? The truth is we’re not good enough, we don’t know enough, and we will and do mess up all the time. But that’s not the point. Owning our power is jumping into the game and saying, ‘I’m willing to play. I’ll do my best and I’ll check in for guidance by meditating. I don’t know where I’m going but I know I must show up and bring all of myself.’ No excuses, no delays.
We come from our peaceful centers and we nurture that peace. That’s what power is–our personal experience of the peace that exists beyond our individual selves. That peace exists. We can participate in it or not. It’s up to our Hero.
‘Be still and know that I am God.’ We are asked to ‘know,’ that is to be present, to experience our oneness with God. Isn’t that an amazing thought? I am one with God. My power lies in being still and knowing my oneness with God and that is Hero’s work. The Controller stays busy and gets tired and maybe frustrated and sometimes she’s a little tense and maybe short, but who can blame her? She does so much.
The Hero is still and knows her oneness with God. The Hero listens and is committed to being present. She doesn’t know if she will act or what she will do. She doesn’t think about the future. The Hero is simply available now. She’s not caught in resentment from some injustice that truly was an injustice but now is past. She doesn’t take offense because taking offense is as bad as giving offense and breaks her knowing that she is one with God. She practices forgiveness so she won’t lose her experience of oneness. The Hero doesn’t let anything interfere with her experience of oneness, not even the Controller.
The truth is that the Controller doesn’t want to be one with God. She wants to have her own identity and her own way and to get a lot done and to move fast and cram as much in a day as she can. The Hero is still and knows her oneness with God and that is all. She knows that life is about learning and she is humble and always alert for her lessons. She is a student, she is receptive, she waits to be shown. She says ‘Yes’ to Life and works in partnership with Life.
The Controller and the Hero are each good parts of us. Are you willing to let each part of you have time this week? Your Controller can get something done and your Hero can practice availability. Will you do that?
About the author:
Ruth Cherry, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Luis Obispo, CA. Her specialty is integrating psychological and spiritual dynamics. Her latest books are Open Your Heart, Accepting Unconditional Love, and Living in the Flow: Practicing Vibrational Alignment. Her web site is www.meditationintro.com.
by Ruth Cherry, PhD
When we open to heal, we invite the power that creates worlds to move through us and to guide us. We practice presence, we pay attention, and we allow. We acknowledge our partnership with Life and we trust that partnership. We know that we are vibrational beings living in a vibrational Universe. When we consciously monitor the vibrational frequency we practice, we become deliberate creators.
Practicing a healing vibration requires that we release our thinking processes and assume a stance of availability. We practice stillness and we notice what is in our thoughts and feelings. We maintain our detached Observer position and we notice and we allow, notice and allow. We see that we may pinch ourselves off from Source but that Source is always available to us.
When we align with our inner world Source energy center, we don’t react to circumstances. We choose the vibration we practice. We welcome the well-being that always flows to us. We deliberately find better feeling thoughts, and we focus on the solution, not the problem. No matter what is we say Yes. It doesn’t matter if we like what we feel or what another says or does, we always say Yes. Yes, this is my life this second. Yes, I value who I am and what I feel this second. Yes, I choose to participate in my life open-heartedly. And that stance defines passion.
We realize that this moment is all that matters and that our power exists now, this second, not in the future or the past. So, we pay attention to our inner world this second. Because every moment is new, the components of the moment are changing and different from every moment that has been before. Nothing remains the same unless chronic patterns of thought create the same circumstances repeatedly. Beliefs we hold about ourselves influence the reality we create. When we are clear–when we see ourselves as Source sees us–we appreciate ourselves just as we are this second. We are unlimited when we identify with our Source energy center..
When we surrender and trust in meditation and then throughout the day, the vastness of our inner worlds and the pervasiveness of our life experience, leads us to know Source minute by minute. We watch as the Universe responds to us in the people and experiences of daily life. We notice that the vibrational frequency we practice (consciously or not) inside is always reflected outside. We appreciate the unity of the fabric of our experience.
We believe in our worthiness when we see the Universe supporting us. We realize that we have come from the non-physical realm to the physical for the purpose of expanding. We intuit that constantly universal forces love us, guide us, and inspire us. And we celebrate our lives by playing with the Universe in powerful co-creation.
About the author
Ruth Cherry lives on the central coast of California where she practices individual psychotherapy, writes, and leads a daily guided meditation group. She is the author of Living in the Flow: Practicing Vibrational Alignment. Her web site is www.meditationintro.com
by Ruth Cherry
Throughout our lives we’ve made commitments — to study while we were in school, to be faithful, loving and supportive in a primary relationship, and to carry our load at work. Many of us have also made commitments in the interior, personal realm — to heal the parts of ourselves that ached.
The commitment that is asked of us now at mid-life surpasses all those commitments. Now we plunge into the depths inside ourselves we hadn’t known existed. Certainly, we’ve not felt this level of intensity in the compelling pull to get to the bottom of all the craziness we’ve tolerated and worked around and compromised with. Now there are no more half measures and no more distractions. The pain doesn’t seem as frightening as the thought that we may die without having lived authentically and fully and passionately. What was acceptable before-a focus on surviving and prospering materially-is no longer enough.
The power of our wish to have more and to be more emboldens us to venture into those scary places inside because nothing is as scary as the thought of wasting our time on this earth, time that becomes more and more precious with each sunset and each new stiffness and each loss of an acquaintance our age to premature death. Our own death suddenly becomes imaginable in a way that has never seemed quite as real as it does now. The profundity of this whole life experience is overwhelming some days. We can’t believe the opportunity we’ve been given to be alive in this beautiful (or tragic) world and we savor each fleeting second. The importance of loving, whether it’s a friend or a pet or a farm or a project, convinces us that commitment from the depth of our being is required and nothing short will suffice.
When we finally commit to living with the minutes and the hours of our lives with presence, we enter a realm from which we don’t return. We move into a wonderland where we see the life spirit in ourselves, in others, and in the circumstances we encounter. The correlation between the outside events and inner world conflicts becomes strikingly apparent and we would not consider shrinking from the challenges to live our lives as Heroes.
A Hero lives with integrity and compassion and with a view of the world as her own family. A Hero says, How can I express the life spirit that flows through me? Each moment becomes an opportunity to experiences that spirit as well as to offer it to the world. There is a transpersonal element to living as a Hero. The concerns about do I like what just happened, am I getting mine, will I profit from this interaction, fade. With an expanded world view and an appreciation of the finiteness of any one particular life, the Hero’s concern is to contribute.
The urgency of “living large” propels us past any fears that have inhibited us in the first part of our lives. The extrovert’s fear of her inner world pales when she considers the implications of living without the experience of profoundly and deeply committing to seeing troublesome relationships all the way through, no matter what the cost to herself. The introvert’s fear of being known in the world dims when she considers leaving this life with no footprints to chronicle her time here. Whatever our challenge, the need to commit to allowing that life spirit in us to heal our wounds and fears and hurts is strong, though not irresistible at mid-life.
Always we have a choice. Life is willing to take us where we are and to work with us but we may refuse. If we decide (unconsciously) to curtail the life spirit by continuing to do what we have always done, if we increase our defenses against the inner tugs and rumblings, then Life gently backs off. We are free to conduct our days as our minds choose, encountering the world as it comes to us and making decisions from our head’s knowledge and good judgment. We can rely on past experience to live respectable lives and be law abiding citizens and fit in. But we will be choosing to close off our Hero. While not being derelict or offensive to anyone, we have not grabbed the ring. It’s our choice.
The thought of not living to the fullest of my ability and potential scares the beejeebers out of me. I don’t want to have regrets after I die. I don’t want to hang out with St. Peter and say, You know, I wish I had tried that, or I’m so sorry I didn’t stand up for my convictions, or I could have taken more risks.
Mid-life is the time for Heroes. And Heroes are those ordinary folks among us who choose to listen to the life spirit within and follow it, even when they don’t know where they are going. The Hero doesn’t concern herself with safety. She needs passion and depth and aliveness. And she realizes that this lifetime and today and this minute are her only opportunities to tell the truth and to be fully alive and to love what is in front of her.
So she does it.
Ruth Cherry, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Luis Obispo, CA. Her specialty is midlife when psychological and spiritual dynamics merge. Her web site is midlifepsychology.com.
by Ruth Cherry
Working in a men’s prison, I reflect on the experience of being incarcerated. The men can’t walk too far in one direction, can’t stand in groups on the yard, can’t watch cable television or research the internet or choose their meals. What they can’t do outnumbers what they can do by about 1000 to 1.
So many of them say they are angry about being in prison but they admit they were angry before they entered prison. They say it frustrates them that they can’t work for pay but admit they didn’t show up for work when they lived “on the streets.” They say that when they are released they will be happy but confess they never have been happy.
No matter what external changes they crave, their inner worlds seem locked up. Locked up by the anger they first felt when they were powerless children who were mercilessly abused. Locked up by their fear of yet another failure when they attempt to read or learn a trade or complete high school. Locked up by their inability to tolerate their own vulnerability which leads to rigidity, unconsciousness, and violent behavior.
These inmates are afraid of being present to themselves. They are afraid of feeling their longing and their hurt and their sadness. They choose hopelessness as a mask to forestall disappointment. The resulting numbness in their hearts can be tolerated.
Is that so different from how many of us middle class folks live? We’re caught on the success treadmill and fear falling off the conveyor belt. We want to function as well as “everyone else” so we don’t know what to do with our desperation and our emotional isolation. Resentments from decades past haunt us. We’re confused. We do what’s “right” but we don’t feel truly alive.
We can pretend these feelings are not there and hope they disappear. We’re willing to sacrifice hope for security. Maybe we’ll never try to paint or to sail or to live in Fiji or to hike through the West. Our dreams seem expendable. We even feel good about choosing practicality.
But what have we lost? Inmates see the walls which limit them. The rest of us can’t discern our inner walls. We feel restless and frustrated and dissatisfied. Passion seems a luxury. But, we repeat, “I’ve done what was expected.”
By our 50s life demands more. We must embrace our passion and say Yes to what we don’t understand and can’t see. An invisible level of reality tugs incessantly until we deny it at the risk of losing our souls. It’s a solitary jump by definition. Our focus shifts from outer world and intellectual concerns (a career, mortgage, family) to our shadowy inner world. No one else knows what it’s like inside us. We’re surprised by our sudden intolerance of what has always been OK. We must have more and we must have it now. We may not know what more looks like but we know a change is required.
The inmates who make their inner world jumps move into those dark spaces which have dogged them forever and immerse themselves in their overwhelming fear and rage. But they don’t act out. Now they tolerate their feelings and watch them and own them and, thereby, heal them. Just by being present to themselves they move through their limitations. Thus, they find freedom and peace inside themselves. They accept their feelings and don’t shrink from feeling them. They choose happiness because they acknowledge that they have no good reason to be happy so they must generate their own. Meaning becomes more important than comfort. They can’t waste anymore time with resentment. So they say Yes to life in each moment of each day.
Just as with the inmates, by mid-life those of us who are not incarcerated are challenged to find meaning by delving more deeply into ourselves than we ever have. We risk losing comfort but we acknowledge that we have outgrown the lives we have been living and truly we are not comfortable now. For us, too, meaning becomes more important than comfort. And now we find meaning in the moments of our day. We make the mundane sacred by the attention we give it. We practice presence and availability. We, too, say Yes to life in each moment. We realize that we have been limited inside our heads and our hearts by a false way of acting and being that promised safety but has only delivered compromise.
For both the inmates and for us, the struggles are internal. We all need courage and commitment to face our inner world demons and stand firm and breathe and persist. That’s when real freedom and passion manifest.
Ruth Cherry, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Luis Obispo, CA. Her specialty is midlife when psychological and spiritual dynamics merge. The power of the unconscious at midlife to heal and to transform is tapped in meditation. Besides writing about meditation, Ruth leads guided meditation groups weekly both for the public and for inmates in a state penitentiary. Her web site is midlifepsychology.com.