December 21, 2013

Trust: One Year, One Word. ~ Guenevere Neufeld

“True security is knowing that there is a power greater than ourselves that can take care of us.”

~ Swami Sivananda Radha

It’s been accurately timed for 2013: the last days of 2012 saw my divorce finally finalized, in a few months I would be leaving a familiar way of life, cloistered such as I was in an ashram, or spiritual home, for three years, and I would eventually be jetting across the continent, exploring in ways and places I never have.

At the end of 2012, I decided to work with the word “trust” for the next 12 months.

Putting forward a single word to reflect upon throughout the entire year has been a large commitment. I know about commitments—the simultaneous freedom and containment they provide—and what goes on inside of me if they’re broken. Some commitments and goals are tools that can spur me on with extra encouragement; chosen at a time when I’m acting from from heart center, a commitment holds me to that space even when I’m feeling as far away from center as it gets.

Now it’s not as though I sat, desperate and rushed in the corner, writing my reflections on trust every day as though my life depended on it. No, it’s been a much more gentle process.

I’ve relished each pause, both in mundane and integral moments, as this way to check-in with myself, pushing beyond old and limiting patterns that populate my mind. For every mechanical impulse down a synapse saturated with fear, I’ve had this word dangling over me like a chandelier, offering me a light-filled perspective on any situation.

I’m working to reveal how trust can be found in any circumstance. What’s become startlingly clear is the myriad of ways trust is available to me in different contexts. I’ve come to understand three basic levels of trust.

Trust in the self

This kind of trust is what I knew I was lacking in my life. Raised with three older brothers who certainly thought they had better answers for everything, I all-too-easily gave up on my in-born insistent stubbornness that I’ve now found actually comes in handy sometimes. Not that I can blame any particular set of life circumstances for any of my personality traits—I’m not about to determine the age-old debate of nature versus nurture in one go—but I’ve certainly had to uncover the value of my own opinion in life.

I’ve learned that developing trust in myself is similar to developing trust in any relationship. Like a muscle that grows as it is used, trust in the self expands the more I learn that I truly can rely on what I do or say. If I were to say to myself, “I’ll get up nice and early for an extra long asana session in the morning,” and then proceed to sleep in, I might be able to justify it to myself. But if I say this every day and every morning sleep in, then should I really continue to trust myself?

I like to think of my relationship with myself like a relationship with a friend. If I were late for dinner or a coffee once or twice, it probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But consistent lateness, or, even worse, not even bothering to show up at all, would eventually lead to a total loss of trust. That friend would no longer want to make plans with me, and who could blame them?

Building trust with myself is a process by which I continually set out to uphold the promises made to myself and is the foundation for me to extend that trust out into the world. This leads us to …

Trust in the other

I’ve done it. I dove into a relationship this year. Okay, “dove into” isn’t exactly accurate given the months of friendship and amount of reflection prior, but nonetheless, I find myself in partnership.

I’ve found the natural outgrowth of trust in myself, courageously deciding to trust in the other, to be a process that, frustratingly enough, shows me the holes in my self-trust. That divorce I mentioned? Well, allowing my heart to remain open and vulnerable long enough for another person to find their way around inside has certainly been a process. I watch when I want to close off in fear of old patterns being repeated, and I tap into the courage to keep opening, learning and responding anew.

Trusting the other doesn’t mean I will never be let down or hurt by someone’s actions. What it does mean is that I know my partner has my best interests in mind.

Trust in the Divine

For me this the most tangible form of trust I have is, paradoxically, only able to be expressed through trust in myself and others. Trusting the Divine can be as esoteric or personal as I need it to be.

I’m not familiar with every single Hindu or Tibetan God and Goddess, yet I do know that they each represent aspects latent within my own being that I can call upon. As a representation of my higher self, I trust that Green Tara, the Tibetan Goddess of compassion, is already stepping out of her meditation in order to respond to my request for Her benevolence.

I trust Siva, the destroyer of obstacles, even when budding opportunities I’m convinced are going to work out are taken away. Sure enough, these plans are replaced with exactly what I truly need in order to grow and be provided for. It’s this trust that can ask, “Okay, how are You going to care for me,” instead of “What the heck am I going to do now?”

Taking one word into the year with me has allowed me to stop and take stock no matter what I’m doing. It’s as though I have a built-in gauge to reflect back upon. It forces me out of my set patterns and allows me to step back and get a bigger view of things.

Sure, I get caught up in the day-to-day stories of what’s going on, yet having a little voice in the back of mind asking “How can I learn to trust in this situation?” forces me out of survival mode and into learning mode. And that’s the mode I want to be in.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Bud / Flickr

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