Inspiration Series - Month Nine

Losing Control, Gaining Freedom

“Your soul doesn’t want to be controlled. It wants to be in control. And the good news is, it has your best interests at heart.”

A funny thing happened on my way to writing this essay. I ended up living it instead.

Here’s what happened. Months ago my sister and I decided to treat ourselves to a mini-vacation at the beach. It had been a while since we’d been away together and we both had so much going on in our lives that it seemed we were working seven days a week. (We were.)Taking a time-out didn’t feel like a luxury at all; it felt like a necessity.

So we compared calendars and carefully chose four days in September that didn’t appear to conflict with any other deadlines or commitments we had made. We started getting excited about spending four whole days at the beach, staying at our favorite hotel.

This particular hotel has several two-bedroom apartments which face the ocean and are filled with light. (Not to mention separate bedrooms and a lovely kitchen.) We love those apartments and decided our long-awaited getaway warranted treating ourselves to one of them.

Our vision of a perfect mini-vacation crystallized into a specific expectation of luxuriating in that beautiful apartment – when we weren’t nestled in our beach chairs, of course, with our feet buried in the warm sand and our eyes gazing restfully at the sunlight sparkling on the ocean.

Our anticipation grew.

When my sister called to make the hotel reservation, though, she was told none of the apartments were available. Momentarily disappointed but not deterred, we decided to reserve two private rooms to mimic as best we could the spaciousness and privacy of one of the beautiful apartments. My sister also put our names on the waiting list for them, confident that one would become available.

As the date of our long-awaited getaway drew nearer, she started calling the hotel periodically to check on our status. We wanted to make sure they didn’t forget to contact us if an apartment freed up.

It didn’t.

So we just kept imagining that, once we arrived to check in, the hotel clerk would smile at us with a twinkle in his eye and tell us he had wonderful news: one of the apartments just opened up that morning. We repeated that scenario to each other often as our departure date grew closer.

Meanwhile I began focusing on the weather. We’ve had absolutely glorious, beach-perfect weather for most of September, and I hoped it would extend through our time away. When we were within ten days of leaving, I began checking the weather forecast.

Hmmm. It didn’t look wonderful. I decided to ignore it, reminding myself that ten-day forecasts are rarely accurate.

During that last week before the start of our vacation, one of my sister’s beloved cats became seriously ill. She took him to the emergency clinic for evaluation and testing. Nothing was clear or conclusive. The vet was strongly suggesting follow-up tests with a specialist, who wouldn’t be available until our first full day of vacation.

My sister maintained her position that she would be out of town and kept negotiating for other options. She brought her cat home with meds that had to be given to him every twelve hours. She also brought him home with a heavy heart. He would need loving and near-constant observation to make sure he didn’t once again need immediate medical attention until the tests could be run. That level of care was too much to ask of her pet sitter, and leaving him in that state was too much to ask of herself.

And so, the day before we were scheduled to leave for our much-needed and long-awaited vacation, my sister called to tell me she couldn’t go.

I wasn’t surprised, of course; we had been in constant communication since her sweet cat had become ill, and secretly I had been amazed that, initially, she had still planned to go to the beach. Still, I was deeply, achingly disappointed when she made her final (and very wise) decision. I love spending time with my sister and had looked forward to uninterrupted days of connection and laughter and nourishment and fun.

Let me pause here. What I’ve described so far may not seem like a classic example of our trying to control an outcome; it wasn’t as if we were micromanaging the hotel reservation system or sending weather balloons into the atmosphere. But – and here I’ll speak just for myself – my internal relationship with our plans was rigid. It simply had to go the way I wanted it to go, complete with sunshine and perfect temperatures and lots of relaxed time with my dear sister in the gorgeous oceanfront apartment.

The control I was exerting was on the inside. I wouldn’t let myself consider the possibilities of staying in a room other than the apartment or dealing with less-than-ideal beach weather or being there alone or not going at all. Instead, I kept my focus firmly on what I wanted, which is a skill that has served me immensely well in this creative process called Life.

But it didn’t serve me well this time. And that’s because I allowed the firmness to become rigid and tight. I didn’t leave much room for the Divine to whisper to me of what was wanted for me.

At least, not right away. But when it was absolutely clear that I had no control over creating the vacation I thought I wanted and needed, I surrendered.

Within minutes I realized what was being created on my behalf: a personal writer’s retreat at the beach. That is something I’ve wanted to experience for a very long time, yet I’ve never given myself that gift. It seemed frivolous. Why would I need to spend time and money to do what I could do right here at home?

Because that’s what my soul needed, and my writing comes from my soul. It’s that simple. And given that I’ve recently been inspired once again to work on my book – hallelujah! – the Divine made sure I kept that inspiration front and center in my awareness and in my life.

My retreat to the beach was life-changing. The weather was gray and windy, the sand wasn’t warm, and I was alone. Was I lonely at times? Yes, very much so. I spent a lot of time talking with my sister on the phone in the evenings. I even came home a day early.

But during my time alone – time I had for writing and meditating and praying and walking on the beach – I experienced such incredible moments of clarity and insight and grace-filled inner shifts that I can see them only as miracles.

And I made progress on my book, which is a miracle in itself.

My sister’s experience is perhaps less obviously a miraculous one, yet it’s clear that she needed to be home to take care of her sweet, big-hearted, beloved boy. Because she’d already planned the vacation, she didn’t need to arrange for time off from work. And because none of the apartments had been available when she called for the reservation, she was able to cancel her room without penalty and without affecting my ability to go to the beach alone.

Our souls were liberated to focus on what mattered most. In losing control, we gained true freedom.

This is possible for all of us. Start paying attention to how you feel, inside, about things that you want. It’s wonderful to be excited and to have positive expectations, of course; that’s half the fun of the manifestation process!

Yet if you notice an inner rigidity that feels something along the lines of “this and only this” – let that be your signal to suspend all of your thoughts and plans about it. Go into the silence. Open to what the Divine may want for you now.

This month’s meditation is designed to help you do just that. It guides you into what is known as the Void, that no-place space of pure potential from which all manifestations arise. It’s like washing away the grime of rigid, unyielding or fear-based thoughts and literally starting with a clean slate, in this fresh moment.

You are dearly loved. So loved, only the best is wanted for you. Let’s see what that might be.

Inspired Practices

  • Listen to this meditation whenever you are mentally wrangling with something, or when you’re aware you’re trying too hard to control or manage something (either internally or externally). Enjoy!
  • If there is something you really want that doesn’t seem to be manifesting the way you’d envisioned, pause to consider whether you’re trying too hard to direct or control things (or other people), or pehaps if you’re attempting to plan every detail for the foreseeable future. Breathe slowly and remind yourself that life is not linear or predictable; it is cyclical, circular and organic. Bring your attention to this very moment and to your body. Say to yourself, either silentlly or out loud, “Slow down,” which invites your mind to be quiet. Rest your attention in the silence for a few moments. When you’re ready to move on, ask yourself, “What is the next simple step I can take that is truly mine to do?”