Gina Murdock: What lesson(s) are you ready to stop learning in 2021?
Lead with Love
My belief and experience is that life serves us up lessons in many different forms and we continue to learn the same lessons over and over again until one day we see, think, hear, feel or know something differently and we make a shift. That shift can be instantaneous, like a sudden flash of insight, or it can be a tedious grind lasting a lifetime where we never quite “get it.”
Life lessons are relentless, I’ve found. If I figure one thing out and change my behavior or perspective to free myself from a cyclical pattern, another challenge or “opportunity” pops up. Having a learning orientation to life shifts everything when it comes to these life lessons, or as I like to call them, opportunities for growth.
Every once in a while, and especially at the beginning of a new year, I like to reflect and think about, “What lesson am I ready to stop learning in this new year? What are the thoughts and stories that keep coming up for me that create suffering? How am I narrating my life? Am I the hero of my own story or a victim of circumstance?”
I truly believe the meaning of life is to continually evolve and grow, to take steps to reduce our suffering and that of others along the way until we reach a more liberated state. This is the intent of yoga and of most any spiritual path. We don’t have too many examples of people who have reached that state. Maybe Buddha? Jesus? Probably the only ones are people we’ve never heard of because people who are in an enlightened state are usually not the ones talking about it!
To me a liberated state of being means peace and the presence of loving. I’ve found it easier in this deeply disruptive year, ironically, to find a sense of peace and loving. For me, running a non-profit that was centered around live events, I have had the distinct pleasure of spaciousness that I never allowed for myself in the past. In that space is presence, in the present moment and quietude I find loving and peace.
How we communicate with ourselves and others is paramount to how we learn, grow, evolve and eventually come to a state of peace, or not. It is so easy to get sucked into blame, shame and judgment. It is what we see constantly modeled to us by our “leaders” and often by our parents and society.
For me, I know by slowing down I can resist the urge to react and indulge my ego that is always labeling things “right” and “wrong” or “good” and “bad” and just listen instead without judgment. To be in a state of peace doesn’t mean bypassing all that is messed up in the world; it means feeling it all, accepting what is, and taking action from an inspired place vs a place of judgment and blame. I love Brene Brown’s “Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted” as an example of this.
My teachers Ron and Mary Hulnick often say, “You cannot be in judgment and loving at the same time.” When I find myself in judgment, I try to be aware of it first off and then CHOOSE how I will respond.
Dr. Deepak Chopra often says, “Because I always have a choice, I choose love.” Think on this for a moment. Think of a person or event that triggers you and creates a sense of judgment and righteousness and think of what choices you have how to respond. Get curious about it. What is the most loving response?
If you start to strengthen that muscle of “choosing love” it will get stronger and stronger. At first it won’t be so gratifying for your ego that wants to win and be right at any cost, but I imagine over time you will find more peace in your life.
My wish for all of us in 2021 and beyond, may we be free from suffering. How much of that is up to us versus the outside world?
Gina Murdock is the founder of the Aspen-based nonprofit Lead with Love. She will be writing a monthly column for The Aspen Times about causes and actions people can take that are highlighted in their newest offering Love in Action, a Zoom work session every other Wednesday for more information, go to http://www.ileadwithlove.org.