Phew! It’s been a looong week.
A lot of boundaries being drawn more firmly—from newly-declared lockdowns and PPE regulations to shifting (and even more entrenched) blue/red divides.
And as usually happens, the Universe delivered a book to me, this time through a client (thank you, you know who you are!)—Lalah Delia’s Vibrate Higher Daily.
Being from the culinary world, the first part of the book to really catch my attention was about how eating healthful foods can start our journey (back) to optimal health, the place where we, as energetic beings, vibrate at a higher frequency.
That concept was not new to me—or you if you’ve followed me for awhile. I promote SOLE foods for that very reason while articulating it slightly differently: eating seasonally, organically, locally, and ethically makes us even healthier than simply eating whole foods cooked from scratch, eaten in moderate portions and with gratitude.
What this part of the book helped me to articulate in a new way is why this is so.
Mindfulness dissolves the boundary between self and others.
Mindfulness is often viewed as a practice of turning inward—and I believe that’s just the first part of the process.
As a spiritual practice, mindfulness has a second component: returning back to the world as “a better person”—someone who, Delia would say, vibrates at a higher frequency.
It’s as though in the first part, we become more aware of ourselves—our bodies, our thoughts, our actions, our emotions—and in the second stage, we find our place in the world, which includes our relationships with others.
If we’ve “done the work” in the first part, when we come back out, the boundaries between ourselves and others can feel thinner or dissolve entirely.
In my SOLE food example:
- Being mindful of the season dissolves the feeling that we’re in a season that is too hot, too dry, too cold, too wet, etc.
- Being mindful of how our food is grown dissolves the boundary between our own health and the health of the planet.
- Being mindful of where our food comes from dissolves the boundary between us and our neighbors and connects us even more tightly to our local community.
- And being mindful of those who planted, nurtured, harvested, packed, shipped, sold, and prepared our food brings us into a much more meaningful relationship with all the links in our food chain—from pollinators to plants to people.
rights and responsibilities
So how do we apply this concept of dissolving boundaries to what’s going on in our country today?
The pandemic has brought a lot of boundaries—predominantly physical—into our lives. We’re asked to mask, to distance ourselves, to stay home, to avoid travel: for many of us, our physical boundaries have shrunk to the four walls of our homes if we’re privileged enough to have one, and our mental health professionals are making dire predictions about the long-term effects of this.
The politics of our country have drawn such strong boundaries that most of us are shocked when a state flips, and there are innumerable accounts of relationships canceled due to an inability to even discuss what divides us, much less begin to repair it.
As much as we are uncomfortable with ambiguity and prefer a clear right/wrong, black/white, red/blue boundary, the fact of the matter is that we spend most of our lives in the messy middle, the gray area, the purple state.
And what can help us navigate those areas is mindfulness—specifically around the constant interplay between our rights to pursue what we want and our responsibilities to not limit others in their pursuit of what they want.
oh, the irony
It’s slightly ironic that I spend a lot of time with clients working on strengthening their capacity to set—and hold—boundaries, and here I am urging us to dissolve some of our boundaries?
And yet, it does make sense if we look at it this way: when we are mindful, we can recognize where boundaries are necessary and where they can stand to get a bit blurred or dissolve altogether. Mindfulness returns some agency to us and helps us to make a choice rather than be dragged along behind some other force, to respond rather than react.
make the connection
In our high-octane world, there seems to be little time for mindfulness: we flit (or flounder) from one task to the next only to collapse at the end of the day, wondering what it is exactly that we’ve accomplished. Usually, we’ve just been building up our boundaries.
The good news is that mindfulness can be done quickly, anywhere, any time simply by checking in with our inner wisdom: How does this situation feel? What are my choices in terms of a response? Which choice feels most aligned when I consider my rights vs. my responsibilities? Will choosing this response draw the boundaries more tightly or blur them, maybe even dissolve them?
Leave a comment and let me know, what’s one area in which you’d like to dissolve some boundaries this week?