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Weekly Mindfulness Support Blog - Find Your Bearings

Hello and welcome to this glorious Friday, April 09, 2021. Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again.

When I was an undergraduate, the second time around, I took an incredible course called, “Colorado Ecoregions.” There were about fifteen students in the class. For two weeks we camped out, traveled around in a tightly packed van, and explored different ecoregions in Colorado. This course was thoughtfully designed by one of my favorite professors and dear friend, Dr. Pat! Magee, to help us connect with our “place.” Part of our place includes the stars.

Each of us were asked to research a constellation and discover a fun fact and share it with the rest of the group. I chose the Little Dipper – Ursa Minor. In researching the Little Dipper, I learned that the phrase, “find your bearings,” is an ancient navigational term. Sailors would use an instrument called a sextant to measure their position in the open seas in relation to certain stars and constellations. In this case, they used the star Polaris (the north star) within the constellation of Ursa Minor. Ursa Minor is Latin for, “little bear.” To find one’s ‘bear’ings meant to track your progress using your position in relation to Ursa Minor, the little bear.

I bring this up today because I believe, in so many ways, we have lost our bearing. In our societal turbulence and in the busyness of our head down-elbow flying lives, we often forget or don’t have time to look up and assess our direction in life.

I realize that I have only my experience to call upon and I can’t help but to project my understanding on to my observations. But from a young age, like many of us, my course was set for success. What I discovered, however, is that the “success” in which I was striving for isn’t what I truly want.

Success in our society is often measured by the grades we get in school, the trophies we win, the car we drive, the house we live in, the status of our job and income. This is where I see us putting our energy - this is where I put my energy. I tacitly learned that when I achieve success, as I just defined it, that I would be happy, satisfied, and content.

But can we not have all of this: the degrees, cars, houses, and glamorous high-paying jobs and still be subject to frustration, despair, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness?

In essence, I believe that we all want the same thing: to be happy, satisfied, and content. And yet, most of us are anything but. So, in our society, we strive for more success only to be temporarily soothed and comforted. And then when this wears off, we start again – a delusionally appealing vicious cycle.

There is nothing anything inherently wrong with getting good grades, winning and event, having a nice car, house, and a profession that you enjoy. All these things add meaning and purpose to our lives. But if we can successfully achieve all this and still find ourselves bitter, frustrated, resentful, and discontent, then maybe our course has been aligned to the wrong stars. Yes, we will end up somewhere, but is it really where we want to go?

I realize that I didn’t pay attention all that well in school and I certainly didn’t listen to my parents enough, but I don’t recall any lessons on how to develop resilience – the ability to quickly and efficiently redirect my course following a storm. I don’t remember being taught, as a primary lesson, about how to cultivate acceptance, compassion, gratitude, connection, serenity, and an ethical life. I was taught that forgiveness is important, but I wasn’t taught how to forgive, or why forgiveness is important. Sure, these may have been mentioned as a side note to some bigger lesson, nevertheless, it wasn’t until I started a Mindfulness practice where I realized that if I put my time, energy, and resources into developing these valuable personal qualities that I get to experience what I’ve been searching for all along.

Our societal nautical instruments did not bring me to the place that was promised. I’ve discovered that I’ve been sailing through rough seas in search of something that has been within me all along. Finding my bearings with stars that are aligned with the kind of life I want to experience has brought me to that place for which I have been searching.

Success for me meow is measured in the development of healthy and skillful personal qualities and by my ability to interact in this messy world with a peaceful and loving heart. You will experience rough waters sailing the seas of personal development – it takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. But the rewards, are immeasurable.

You are Loved by me, Unconditionally! Dan

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