How to live in a friendly Universe

by | Aug 20, 2012

Image by Temari 09 via Flickr

Many of you know that my husband was in a serious automobile collision on July 30th. He was in the hospital for 12 days and in a skilled nursing facility for another week. He came home three days ago and will be in a wheelchair for another month or so. After that he will be on crutches while his left leg heels, another 4-8 weeks.

Needless to say, it has been a time of upheaval. I’m great in a crisis, and in the beginning it was relatively simple to set priorities, make decisions, and be present and patient. But when the crisis was past and we began to face months of recovery, I got scared.

I began to worry about money. I was afraid of not staying on top of insurance, doctors’ appointments, wheelchair-appropriate transportation, and God only knows what other things that I couldn’t anticipate and might overlook.

I worried about remaining patient, kind, and positive, about being the kind of person I want to be through Miles’s recovery.

What saved my butt was investing in what I call spiritual overhead.

Spiritual overhead

Spiritual overhead consists of all the practices that enable us to be the persons we want to be. Examples are meditation, exercise, dancing, learning new things.

When we invest in spiritual overhead we become more emotionally intelligent. Our best traits tend to come to the foreground. We’re more resilient.

And perhaps most importantly we live in a friendly Universe.

Do we live in a friendly Universe?

During the week that Miles was in the nursing facility, I returned to the practices that constitute my spiritual overhead. I got in one yoga class and two workouts. I meditated twice.

One day I went for a run. As I ran I found one of the mantras from Eric Klein’s MantraWave recordings running through my head. The mantra became entrained with my footfalls.

My thoughts slowed down and became friendlier. Then a question appeared in my mind: is the Universe friendly?

I started to imagine what it would be like to live in a friendly Universe. I would trust that all is well, that all manner of things be well. I would do what I could and let go of the rest.

I would be cheerful and relaxed, open to possibility. And when I wasn’t, that would be okay, too.

The friendliness of the Universe is a function of thought

As human beings, we make up stories to explain what happens around and to us. We are always living one story or another. Depending on our thoughts, moment by moment, we live in an  pessimistic or optimistic story.

I decided during that run to live an optimistic story to the best of my ability. To believe that we live in a friendly Universe and see what happens.

In a friendly Universe, there is no reason not to trust that we will be taken care of. (What taken care of looks like is up for grabs. The Universe may be friendly, but She has been known to have a warped sense of humor.)

In a friendly Universe, we do what we can based on what we see as most important, and let go of the rest.

I decided that spiritual and physical care of Miles and myself is paramount. I’m making meditation and Open Focus practice priorities. I’m going to yoga and working out at least three times a week. And I’m cartooning in the evenings.

I believe that these practices will help me live peacefully, positively, and creatively in the months ahead. They’ll enable me to honor my priorities and trust that what I can’t do doesn’t actually need to be done.

Priorities support friendliness

For me to remain in a story of a friendly Universe, I need to decide what matters most and set priorities to navigate by.

I decided that what matters most is caring for Miles and myself.

Next comes handling the most pressing medical, legal, and financial issues.

Then comes care of my clients and students.

In the time that remains, I will do what can be done in and on my business.

I’m looking for, and right now finding, the sweet spot between desperately trying to do it all and abdicating responsibility out of overwhelm. I’ll show up and take the next indicated step.

Five lessons about living in a friendly Universe

I don’t know what challenges you are facing now. I don’t know your growing edge. Whatever they may be, here are some of the lessons I’m in the process of learning.

  1. We get to choose whether or not we live in a friendly Universe.
  2. That the Universe is friendly doesn’t mean that things will unfold the way we think we want them to.
  3. There is always enough time, and we get to choose what to do in this moment, one moment at a time.
  4. Our choices are not static. We get to choose anew in every moment.
  5. We are what we practice.

It’s not about perfection

I may sound confident and clear, and in this moment I am, but I don’t expect to glide along the path without slips and falls. But I have a foundation and a plan. The task now is to trust, and for me that is a sacred challenge.

Until next week, be well.