The Cook Awakening


November 10, 2019
Posted in: Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice

There’s a tendency I see with clients, friends, family, and myself. I think of it as the training of the Industrial Revolution, and of Capitalism. I’m not launching into a political lecture here, but I do need to name this orientation as systemic, partially as a way to depersonalize the suffering. Meaning… it’s not your fault you suffer in this way.

We feel guilty for needing help. We carry the deeply embedded message in our collective psyches that we are supposed to be completely self sufficient in all things. We are supposed to be able to handle whatever life hands us. Financial difficulty, mental health challenges, the stress of unreasonable demands at work, isolation in the nuclear family, illness…

Trees metabolize carbon dioxide into the oxygen we need.

I know I feel some level of unease, which is really the tip of an iceberg of shame, when I have to acknowledge that I’m not doing well. All the messages that flow through are utterly disempowering — I have a strong spiritual practice, I should be fine all the time. I’m a counselor, I help other people, I should have all my ducks in a row, and shouldn’t need help myself. I am so fortunate, I have a nice house and food on the table, what am I complaining about?

Our ancestors lived in tribes. Humankind is genetically wired for connection and interdependence. There are many reasons why that isn’t a reality today in white western culture. That’s not what I want to focus on here, though. The question is — what do we do about it? We are set up to stay separate in so many ways by our own habits, and the expectations of others!

It can certainly help to practice asking for help. I highly recommend that as a way to push back against these tendencies. But, honestly, to start there can send us into a shame spiral, especially if we’re met with resistance from someone in the same cultural trance that says you shouldn’t have to ask for help, and who is likely in the same boat of thinking we shouldn’t need help, and who needs support themselves. It’s a vicious cycle.

What’s the way through?

There’s a central truth here that is easy to miss. The fact is, we actually can’t live without support. We AREN’T living without support. There is an exchange of basic giving and receiving that is going on all the time. We can’t stop it.

On a fundamental level, right now, what allows you to be here, functioning, reading this? Is the earth under you holding you up? Is there air to breathe?

One of my teachers often speaks of the truth of neediness. This is a basic reality of being human. We need air. We need gravity. We need food and water. We need connection. Science supports all of these as needs. Air, gravity, food and water seem obvious. But, how does the need for connection line up with the shame we feel around asking for help?

Start with the basics, then. Sometimes the doorway is the obvious. Can you feel the earth beneath you, holding you up? The floor beneath your feet, the seat under you. Can you feel the air moving in and out of your lungs? These things, so far, have been pretty dependable. You couldn’t survive without them.

This is not actually different than the support we need from other humans. The support we receive all the time. Someone grew and harvested the food we eat. Someone built the structure we live in. Someone designed and created the device you’re using to read this. We actually can’t escape interdependence.

Feel into this. Starting with the dependability of gravity and breathing. Start there. Notice where you are receiving. Notice if you resist making this experience conscious. Just notice.

Needing support is your birthright. Others needing your help is theirs. We all participate in this, whether we are conscious of it or not.

It’s okay to reach out. It’s okay for it to feel awkward. Whether we’re talking about reaching out to a friend or loved one, a caregiver, a neighbor, to me or another counselor, — there are many avenues. You aren’t meant to do life alone. In fact, you aren’t doing it alone. Where can you expand that reality into greater avenues of support? Feel it now, and allow that to organically lead to an ability to rest, and seek more.

Let me know where it leads, I’d love to know.

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 10th, 2019 at 2:27 pm and is filed under Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation, Spiritual Practice. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


Leave a Reply