Through my virtual connections with friends all over the world during the last couple of weird months this pandemic has shown me that we humans are divided into two very clear groups….those who trust and those who do not trust.
From what I have observed, those who trust are, on the whole, pretty relaxed about the weird situation in which we find ourselves. They remain philosophical, surrendered and pragmatic. They take action where they can take action as well as being able to make the most of the extra space, time and peace which lockdown has presented most of them. They do, of course, have their ‘wobbles’ from time to time because, after all, they are human. But, in general, they have been peaceful in their acceptance of it all.
Those who do not trust have become gradually more fearful, agitated and anxious about what is unfolding around the world. Their mental and physical health has deteriorated and their relationships have come under strain. They are obsessing over the news, trying to make sense of what is going on, and struggling with the fact that they cannot either distract themselves with busy-ness or plan for the future as they are used to doing.
I am deeply grateful that I now fall into the first category and, although I over-stretched myself with work for a few weeks which caused some imbalance and stress, my trust has never waivered.
But when I use the word ‘trust’ what am I referring to? Trust in what exactly?
Do I mean trust in our world leaders? Sadly too many of them and the political systems within which they exist are too corrupted by greed, power and control for me to trust in them.
Do I mean trust in our economic systems to support us financially through this catastrophe? The answer is another big fat NO (for similar reasons as above).
Do I mean trust in the media to provide us with accurate information? When I see the levels of fear-mongering, exaggeration and drama that they spread without any accountability whatsoever, the answer is a resounding NO.
So if I can’t trust in these institutions which I was raised to believe in to guide, inform and protect us when the going gets tough, what can I trust in?
My spiritual teacher of 11 years, Miranda Macpherson sums it up more beautifully than I can in her powerful book ‘The Way of Grace’ –
“We cultivate trust not so that life will always unfold according to our desires but rather so that whatever happens, we can relax and trust that things will work out for the best. We cultivate trust first in the goodness of our own true nature rather than our ego’s learned strategies of defense. We cultivate trust that this same goodness resides in everything and everyone, even though in many, it is buried and distorted. With practice we discover that placing our trust in this goodness within others can evoke it. Most importantly, we cultivate trust that the pulse of existence itself is beneficent. Dante referred to it this way: “The loving goodness has such wide arms that it welcomes whatever turns to it.” We cultivate trust that life moves in the direction of liberation, and we are given what we need to evolve and thrive, even when the packaging is hard for us to appreciate.”
Most of the world’s spiritual traditions and teachers point us to the teaching that trust is the antidote to fear. This is why they all emphasise the importance of cultivating deep trust.
I have not always been in the trusting category. After all, I was raised with the backdrop of societal trauma as men in balaclavas carried out bombings and knee-cappings on a regular basis in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Fear was very real and tangible a lot of the time.
Like you, I am sure, I had one experience after another when people that I trusted betrayed me or disappointed me. Most of the time this was unconscious and without any awareness of what they were doing but it still hurt.
Then my first daughter was stillborn at 6 months into the pregnancy so I learned that I couldn’t even trust my body to do what it was meant to do naturally.
I made some life decisions which backfired in a major way and so I then couldn’t even trust myself.
And I could go on……. Life presented me with more and more reasons to mistrust, to shut down, to put my guards up, to protect myself and to become anxious and fearful of people and the world in general.
Or did it? Maybe these were all actually invitations in disguise. Invitations to grow, to evolve, to remain open and undefended. Invitations to learn to trust on a deeper level in something more unshakeable.
In my mid 30s, as Anis Nin said, “the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” The energy that it required to dim my own light by remaining closed and fearful was just too much. I broke down, I sought support, I began the healing journey and I broke through. Since then my life has been an ongoing exercise in the cultivation of trust. Step by step, gently, patiently and with support, I examined my deepest fears and looked into the shadows of my psyche. Each time I find a fear lurking there I question its source and inquire into whether it is supporting my evolution or holding me hostage. Then I choose whether to hang to it or to release it.
The benefits of this on-going practice have really born fruit during this pandemic as I experience an unshakeable trust in life itself and a deep relaxing into the support of that which is always here for me. I hear myself repeating regularly my favourite Italian phrase “Tutto bene”….ALL IS WELL.
Yes, I have myself to thank for doing the hard work over the years – for showing up even when the fear was intense, for remaining committed to freeing myself from the internal prison in which I found myself. But I also cannot express the importance of the role which Miranda and my beloved partner and adventurer, Eoin Scolard played in this unfolding. They have been my ‘mighty companions’ and their gentle, loving support, guidance and patience have been the constants in amongst all the change in my life circumstances.