By definition, a spiritual practice is never finished. There’s no timeline, no stopping point, no date on the calendar that can be X’ed out. The practice itself is the point—to keep returning to whatever activity was chosen to exercise mindfulness. To keep using what is set before us in order to go deeper.
So, as a spiritual practice, bipolar disorder rocks.
For a couple of years now, I’ve seriously engaged my mental illness as practice. I’ve tried to map the funky mental landscape. I’ve gathered information from research and from my own experience to make changes in my routine and perceptions. I’ve envisioned myself a warrior, doing battle with the vagaries of the illness. A Bipolar Bad-Ass.
And now there’s a call to go deeper.
There’s no more data to gather, no more analysis to be done. All that information is part of me now. What’s called from me now is a deeper acceptance of the illness and my life as it is. Always in the back of my mind, I held the belief that if I worked hard enough, stayed awake, fought my compulsions, slashed the delusions when they attacked, I would find peace. Someday, I would get well.
In holding out for Someday, I skipped Today—which was deliberate, because Today is horrifying. But, I’m called to embrace it. All of it. The poverty, the obesity, the solitude and the madness as well as my creativity and skills, the small pleasures and joys. There’s a shift in the Bad-Ass from screaming in battle to something quieter. I don’t know who she is yet, but I can feel her emerging.
Part of her Call is to be present to the Discomfort (once I pull away the drama and suffering, this is the word that fits best). Discomfort drives the compulsions, attaches to the distorted thinking, flails and panics. Discomfort underlies poor choices. It warps reality.
But, it’s just Discomfort. Greater or lesser degrees of it will travel with me the rest of my life. My Constant Companion. So, the next phase of Bad-Assery seems to include becoming comfortable with the Discomfort. This feels like a koan, a riddle with no solution. But, that’s also part of practice—holding a question for the sake of holding it.
Maybe this is part of my Bad-Ass’ journey—to set down the sword. I can’t imagine it yet.
So, I’ll try to just sit with that discomfort.
I’m on an Adventure.