I recently wrapped up working with the element of stability for a year. My work with stability for a year is part of a process I’ve developed where I work with a given element, daily, for the course of a year or more in order to achieve balance with that element. It’s basically an intensive form of internal work but it has helped me make significant changes in my life for the better because when I work with an element for a year or more I find that I end up having the experiences I need to help me make proactive changes in my life.
My elemental balancing ritual changes on my birthday so the year is a bit unusual in that it starts and ends on October 21st (for me). I originally started this practice in 2004 and have continued doing it for the last 14 years. In Inner Alchemy I share more about how the ritual works, but what I thought I would do here is share 12 lessons I’ve learned from working with stability for the past year.
Lesson 1: Failing is actually an opportunity to let go of what isn’t working so that you can start over again. What I also learned is that I wasn’t alone. People fail all the time. They have events happen and they start over again. As long as you’re willing to learn and keep trying you truly haven;t failed and you will find your way forward, even though it may be hard.
Lesson 2: I belong to myself and no matter what I go through if I hold true to that it will carry me forward during difficult times. Belonging to yourself means being present with yourself, with your fears and doubts and everything else that can be so hard to face, yet so illuminating in terms of how it helps you change your life. I also learned to start focusing only on the essential, what really matters to me versus what I’m doing out of obligation or routine and t let go of relationships with spirits that aren’t working.
Lesson 3: I am 100% responsible for my part of a conflict and if I’m in a conflict its worth identifying why I’m in it and what I’m resisting. I also learned that truly being present means being in the moment and that if you want to be elsewhere all it creates is attachment and longing for something, while actually keeping you further from it.
Lesson 4: A conflict is productive if it induces change and reflection in your life. Without change one’s life becomes stagnant and wanting a seamless life is confining yourself instead of liberating yourself. But conflict doesn’t have to be messy or dramatic. It just has to teach you something. I also learned if you’re not doing something for the right reasons, let it go. You can come back to if you can find the right reasons, and if you can’t then you’re better off letting it go.
Lesson 5: When you live an unexamined life you can’t recognize how you effected other people with your choices. At the same time you should never sacrifice your joy and happiness for obligation. Your joy and bliss are your true north. And to be humbled by circumstances is a gift because as hard as it is, it also shows you what you need to work on and change. You may question your relevance and worth but this is how you begin to rediscover who you are and what matters to you.
Lesson 6: To discover genuine stability, happiness etc., is to let go of the images that we hold onto in order to experience the reality. The way you experience that reality is to open yourself to the moment and what you feel and experience without distancing yourself or leaping way. You’ve got to in the moment to discover and work through the truths. That only happens when you stop hanging on so tight to what has been hurting you so much.
Lesson 7: It’s ok to not do work that doesn’t call to you. In fact, you should really only do work that speaks to you (if you can), especially if you’re doing that work during you free time. Discovering yourself means being honest about what’s really important versus just doing something because you feel a sense of obligation. It’s also important to get clear on why you are doing what you are doing. Are you doing it because of ego or are you doing it because it fulfills a deeper purpose? Answering that question is essential for doing the work for the right reason.
Lesson 8: Being present with your fear is the key to truly working with it and turning it into an ally. Also its important to get clear on what being authentic means to you and how you will show up as a result, both in the work you do, and the community you are part of. If you can get that clarity, then what you also get is an opportunity to figure out who you serve and where you need to focus your efforts.
Lesson 9: The ability to adapt and adjust to your circumstances is how you find stability. It also helps when you get clear on what you really want for you life, because then everything you do is oriented toward achieving that goal. You want to be aware of your internal resistance and why you are resistant to what you want, because as long as that resistance is there it will keep you from accomplishing what you want. What you tell yourself you can or can’t do is what dictates your actions and reality.
Lesson 10: The path is a journey, but when you get caught up in the destination you miss the journey and the lessons it has to teach you. The excuses you tell yourself will dictate what you do or don’t so own those excuses and make the necessary changes. Also when I do things my own way, answering to no one other than myself that’s when I truly thrive. Also letting go of stress is better than carrying it and significantly reduces the drama that would otherwise be i my life.
Lesson 11: A community that doesn’t have a share vision will not come together and frantically trying to fix things isn’t the solution. Taking your time with what you need to do is better than trying to rush through everything, because when you rush you miss out on key details. Knowing when to stop and move on from something can save you a lot of grief. Also if something doesn’t come easy to you its worth evaluating whether you want to continue putting effort into it, or pivot and focus on your strengths. I don’t need to the answer, but I do need to keep asking, because the answer will come to me if I do. I will only do anything that I am 100% behind creatively. If I feel like something is pulling away from my creativity I won’t do it.
Lesson 12: The choice to create a foundation that supports you and your work is the choice to ground what you do and make it stronger as a result. As long as you can learn from your mistakes you will find a path forward. Don’t let someone else’s timeline dictate your schedule. Do the work in your own time and at your own pace so it can be done well and you can arrive at your own answers.