Messages from the Pod
Settling into a new rhythm and routine
The call to adventure has little to do with a cognitive process, it is more of an invitation. It is an inner stirring, a movement and a few hours after I arrived in the Pod, I finally knew and understood why I was here. I could better articulate my needs for the days ahead, the purpose of this particular journey and how it might consequently serve someone else.
Pace myself to the beating of my heart
After getting a sense of arrival on day one, day two was really about letting the dust settle. Quieting the mind and coming to a place of calm.
To pace myself to the beating of my heart. To find a format, a rhythm and a routine that is going to work for me. However prepared (which of course I am), I am gentle with myself. I give myself 36 hours to find a rhythm that works, to adjust to these new surroundings. I want the time to download freely and allow myself to finish up some urgent work stuff. Once you let the mind settle, all sorts of thoughts pop up and EVERYTHING your mind thinks is urgent starts buzzing in your head. To ‘reassure it’, I write, walk and say things out loud. The mind needs time to settle.
When you are venturing into a journey like this, it is important to challenge yourself agreed, but I would say it is equally important to be gentle with yourself. Sometimes things don’t work out, or differently than planned. And instead of going into failure, try again. Or create a new challenge, work with yourself. Keep moving.
The first night was a little restless as I heard small animals around my cabin at 3 AM. Wild boars are known to roam the grounds. But also, lots of scurrying on the roof, squirrels maybe? Not sure but it was unsettling and kept me awake.
Walking to clear the cobwebs
On this second day I walked, walked and walked even more.
Now, you should know that I am a city girl ánd a beach bum and the forest can truly scare me. I constantly feel as if I am a character in the ‘The Blair Witch Project’ – so as I tried to settle my mind, I was also confronted with my deepest fears: walking alone in the forest where I can’t see everything clearly. Where I can sometimes sense its vibrancy, its occupants and history.
As I set on my early way, I decided to stop hug this enormous tree. As I did, I thought about its roots, still working hard to sustain the tree, keeping it alive and preparing it for Spring. All the unseen processes that are going on underneath the surface. The network of connections with the trees around it. I let go and thanked the tree, my mind wondering also about how this might look and “what will they say?” Foolishness as I could get a good sense of the parallel with my own process.
Walking into a story
Then, minutes into my walk, I see a man standing between two trees in the pouring rain. He is standing in front of an easel, painting the two trees across from him. I say good morning and decide to ask him what he is painting.
“Those two trees” he says. And I say: “The two big ones with a large, burned piece of wood between them?” “yes, he replies, locally they are called Philemon and Baucis, after the Greek/Roman myth, do you know it?” “No, I don’t.” So, he tells me. Philemon and Baucis is a moralising fable of how the Gods reward this couples’ Hospitality.
In the story, Jupiter and his son Mercury set off on a trail disguised as weary travellers, going house to house and not finding hospitality, except with the couple Philemon and Baucis. They finally reveal themselves as Gods and at the end of the story, as a reward, the Gods saved the couple from a flood that drowned the rest of the country. In the end, they were granted their wish to die at the same moment, being turned into trees.
Jan and I talk for a while more before I set off on the trail again.
Following your inner compass
I let my feet lead the way into a deeper part of the forest with changing sceneries, a few people, some horses and lots and lots of rain. Working through muddy grounds reminds me of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book ‘No mud, No Lotus’ – The secret to happiness is to acknowledge and transform suffering, not to run away from it. A rhythm of the day seems to present itself, walking and settling in and settling down. Finding (not choosing) a routine that works. What gives me energy, what inspires me, what nourishes me?
I stop and take the pulse, it’s great outside, it grounds me and puts things in better perspectives. No matter what I decide to do, the birds will sing, the trees will grow, and life will continue. Refreshing!
Standing here and soaking it all up (literally) reminds me of my own inner compass, my commitment. The one I expressed at the start of my compassion-journey at the Compassion and Altruism Research and Education Center at Stanford; as ambassador of compassion, I actively made the choice to bring the qualities of the heart, of kindness, empathy and compassion into the world. To model this commitment in every moment. One step in front of the other.
An unnecessary encore
At dusk, I decide to leave the pod and drive to a sunset location to find only rain and the odd person our for a run. Dusk in the rain is pretty boring and it ends up not being the ‘Vista point moment’ I had hoped for. Slightly disappointed, I venture back to my shell to close these last light moments of the day.
As I settle into the evening and get ready for the night, I feel restless and at first, nothing seems to work; all I want is my cell phone or a TV binge to distract me. I shower and try to go to sleep feeling proud at least that I attempted a routine and listened to whatever presented itself. To find my bearings here, get to know my surroundings and at the same time to move inward.
There is an invitation here, which you will find most of my work is; to be your own compassionate leader first. To find Root in who you are and serve the world from that place.
Be well and safe.
in compassion, ~ Barbara
Image credit: Austin Thomas
Barbara writes about the qualities of kindness and compassion and takes a positive approach to health. She supports leaders and teams in their personal development and compassionate leadership. To cultivate what is often referred to as ‘soft skills’ and what she calls the ‘hard skills’; communicating with presence, practicing deep listening and a non-judgmental attitude; being (self)compassionate and building (self)awareness. www.berooted.nl
“By connecting to yourself first, we start living from the inside out and become more resilient.”