The feeling of overwhelming, whether it is ruminating thoughts, the feeling of anxiety or panic or a general whirl of the so many things one must do, is real and it is personal.
When I first heard Tara Brach talk about the clearing in the woods, that safe, comfortable place where I could experience refuge for myself, I found that concept tremendous. Richard Rohr talks about the lifeboat, the boat between the island (ie the one aspect of our world) and the mainland (ie other aspects of the world we are a part of) in a similar fashion.
Both concepts provide solace, and they also provide a place from where one can have perspective and cultivate awareness.
In this meditation, I use the clearing as a place to explore the body and the comfort it feels in the clearing and then I use the clearing to explore the periphery where chaos and overwhelm live.
Step one: what does the comfort feel like.
Can we feel our bodies in the physical space of the clearing? Can we imagine it?
It becomes clear that at the periphery of the clearing, which I define as strong, safe and comfortable, I find the details of chaos. And at the edge of chaos, I again find my clearing. But in exploring the edges or peripheries of both, I discover that overwhelm has its edge and it not everywhere. That discovery may be helpful because it means that the overwhelm and chaos does not saturate our whole selves.
Once we feel – physically explore the edge of the place in our bodies – where overwhelm ends, then maybe we feel that we have again entered our own personal clearing.