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Create a Clearing in the Dense Forest of Your Life

Forest person in rainforest

This morning I was on a quest to find a nice Tara Brach video to share on the Sanctuary. As completely pertinent and marvelous as I think she is, I was frustrated, finding mostly videos that were around 1 hour long.

While watching a  shorter (26-minute) video of hers, which I recommend to anyone wanting to explore or practice mindfulness, I heard her read the following poem and it stopped me in my tracks.

© valeriy andrushko via unsplash

This poem is called "Clearing" and is written by Martha Postlewaite.

Do not try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose.

Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life

and wait there patiently,

until the song that is your life

falls into your own cupped hands

and you recognize and greet it.

Only then will you know how to give yourself

to this world

so worthy of rescue.

Not only does this poem speak to me personally (I tend to look outward for answers, and become preoccupied by what others might need or expect of me), but I feel it is truly à propos for our Allies in Recovery community.

"Rescuing" our Loved Ones can often become the unspoken goal of our existence.

We somehow become convinced that turning their lives around is our responsability and that if we don't manage to do it for them, disaster will strike.

In this day and age, with action and doing being guiding threads, our lives indeed feel like a "dense forest" … slowing down or pausing tend to feel like a huge effort, unless we make a point of practicing it daily. Add to the over-busy-ness the heaviness and stress of difficult emotions when a Loved One is in the grips of addiction, and the forest becomes denser yet.

Allies in Recovery rejects the peer wisdom that suggests the Loved One must hit rock bottom and there's absolutely nothing the family can do to help, because we know and have seen that improving communications and building a bridge of trust does make your Loved One more likely to come to you for help when they're ready. 

However, part of our being able to make those improvements is about our accepting that we are powerless over the addiction itself. There are so many things we can change, and most of it starts with our selves.

Postlewaite's poem suggests that we create that clearing, then "wait there patiently" … I see a real parallel with the work our members to do as you are going through our program and integrate the principles of CRAFT into your daily lives.

© luis del rio camacho via unsplash

"Creating a clearing" can be interpreted in so many ways … it may include stepping back from the feelings of urgency … it may mean learning and practicing stepping away from the ways in which we exacerbate negative feelings … it may be about taking steps to put yourself back in the center of your own life, directing attention, empathy and even Love towards yourself … it may involve a literal clearing out of your Loved One's bedroom/hideout in favor of a meditation space for you and a daybed for them … it may be about doing some figurative "cleaning out" of the concerns that you allow to overwhelm you, thus creating open space for new and postive outcomes … or it may simply be an invitation to work the eLearning program, gradually putting into place the principles of CRAFT, and cultivating those bridges with your Loved One for the day they are ready to accept your help.

We aim to be here for all the members of this community, for guidance and encouragement, as each of you finds your way to that "clearing". May you find moments of peace and well-being each and every day.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)