I was recently talking to friends about the times in your life when you feel overwhelmed by sadness or despair. The times when all the clichés about your heart being torn apart or ripped out of your chest feel true, and you can barely breathe for crying – that ugly, red-faced kind of sobbing that leaves you feeling physically and mentally drained. It was a cheerful conversation.
Hearing your hummingbird
But something one friend said really resonated with me. He said that at the times in his life he’d felt most low, there was still a tiny little hummingbird of a voice somewhere in his head, saying, “This is ok.” That voice inside that even when you’re at your lowest knows that you are still alive, and that you ill get through it. I don’t mean it knows that it will work out perfectly in the end, because maybe it won’t. But the hummingbird inside you is the part that notices the sadness or pain right then and can accept it.
And I realised I too have a hummingbird.
Emotions can feel so all-consuming. There are times I’ve cried so much that my face was swollen the next day. (As a side note, it’s not ideal to be a school teacher at those times – “Miss, what’s up with your face? You look really weird today!” Got to love the unfiltered honesty of thirteen year olds…) But the analogy that I like is that you are the sky; the emotions you experience – grief, fear, anxiety, excitement, happiness, joy – are just the weather. There’s space in the expansiveness of the sky to accommodate them all. The sky is still the sky, constant and unchanging.
I think that’s what the hummingbird knows too. So maybe next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to tune into that part of yourself that sees what’s going on, and knows that it’s ok. See whether you can hear your hummingbird.
Have a beautiful day everyone!
P.S. The easiest way to learn to hear your hummingbird better? Meditation. I’ve resisted this for a long time, but I can honestly say that meditating is the best way I’ve found to develop equanimity and acceptance. Sorry. I too was hoping I’d find more success with methods which included more cocktails and less sitting still and being quiet…