As I sat down to write this post, I got pulled away by the unbelievable images in the US Capitol. My plan was to write about my cute little habit-trackers for exercise and other daily practices. But that will have to wait. Instead, after Mina’s inspiring post yesterday, I decided to join other bloggers in naming my word of the year: steadfast.
I first started thinking about this word when I read a piece on Lionsroar, a Buddhist site, last April, called Steadfast in the midst of Samsara. Samsara refers generally to the mundanity and suffering of life; being steadfast is about being truly present to the moments of fire. The writer of that piece talks about the blue lotus that needs fire to bloom, how only by being steadfast to our wisdom and compassion can we be truly realized.
I don’t consider myself Buddhist, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve resonated more and more with its core teachings. Life is embedded with suffering, with loss. There is no certainty. Being at peace with those truths, learning to not attach to outcomes, knowing that the only thing you can truly control is yourself, cultivating compassion and presence for the very people and experiences that throw us off balance? This is the practice of life for me.
We are certainly in a time of uncertainty, of fire. The world is <gesturing at everything>. I had a death in my family a month ago that is still a hard, hot knot in my heart that will never really heal. And what I have noticed is how much I value the people who have truly shown up. In my personal life, that means simple things like checking in, taking me out for a walk, making me caring food, not quailing from talking about death. Just… showing up.
That’s what steadfast is to me. To be present to what is — the chaos of the political world, the surge of COVID, the fragility of my clients who are trying to manage a trembling healthcare system while also trying to shift historical structures of racism and colonialism. This work is not comfortable. This world is not comfortable. Being with the discomfort — noticing it, being with it, being present to it, not resisting it but trying to breathe it out again — that’s the practice. Staying in my deepest values: compassion; showing up; gratitude; equity; acknowledgement; love. Trusting that there is always a new page to turn.
There are some basic structures that help me with this — working out every day, getting on my spin bike when I feel anxious, gratitude practice, trying to do some writing about things that matter. Recognizing that my work matters. Trusting in and calling on my communities. But mostly, it’s intention. Breathing in in the moments that knock me off balance, cultivating curiosity instead of reactivity. Showing up and checking in with the people I care about are struggling. Taking a moment to remember and acknowledge the people who quietly do the things — like managing our 2021 workout groups — to create community.
I have not typically had a practice of choosing a word of the year — and last year, the word “present” found me. Transforming it to “steadfast” reinforces that strong blue flame in me. We can be with what’s happening. And with wisdom and compassion, bring more balance and connection to the world.
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is trying to practice Bakasana — crow pose — at least once a day in 2021 as a way of fostering balance and strength.