The Rapture of Being Alive | Blog
The Rapture of Being Alive
Someone I met recently sent me this quote by Joseph Campbell, “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
This beautifully reflected an exchange we had earlier in the day. It was one of those encounters, that left us both feeling more alive. What made it even more shocking was, it was our first-time meeting and it was over zoom. He sent a note later that said, “I was not prepared for the substance of our encounter.” I knew what he meant. What was meant to be a “networking” call turned into something much richer. When we hung up from our call, I had the thought, “Wow, I don't know what just happened, but I like it.”
This feeling of being alive has been something I've used to describe what I've felt over the last couple of months. I've noticed that in this period of the “COVID pause” and the awakening that has happened since the death of George Floyd, I have felt more alive. I have had a mix of experiences, thoughts and emotions. I have felt a full range of feelings from worry, insecurity, shock & upset to love, connection, joy, excitement and hope. Like everyone else, I've had to reimagine and adjust in my life and my work. When I've been able to go with “what is”, I've been able to see new possibilities and have actually seen the gift in this slowing down for me. Most recently, I've noticed that as blind spots have been revealed, while uncomfortable, on the other side has been a feeling of freedom and aliveness.
Somehow these last few months, I have felt more touched by life, by others and by what is waking up within me. Somehow, what often starts as unexpected and maybe even unwelcome, begins a pathway to a deeper knowing, a lightening up and a waking up. I know I am not alone. I have heard this from friends, family and clients.
There have been some common threads in my conversations. People are sharing that they are waking up; feeling more connected to themselves and others, feeling more alive, more emotions, perhaps even more intensely. And just to be clear, it hasn't all felt great at the time or been pleasant, but the aftermath has been a depth and connection to our own aliveness and our deeper nature. Experiencing more of the essential nature of things versus the surface of them.
It has been less about the event or feeling and more about what it is waking up or opening up inside of us.
These last few months have not been easy, but they have created opportunities for fresh perspectives, new creativity, new realizations and for many, waking up to the rapture of being alive. They have shown the gift in the full range of the human experience. They have connected us more powerfully to our resilience, our strength and our hope while at the same time, throwing us in the deep end – into the unknown.
In a way, in hindsight, I can see that I had been moving through my life in a sort of slumber or numbness. It's subtle but the best way I know how to describe it is that I was enjoying life, enjoying my work, traveling, and had lots of interesting things happening and a lot of really wonderful people in it. However, I can see now that I was a bit on autopilot. I was going through the motions or perhaps the best way to say it is, I was not experiencing the fullness of those encounters. I was not fully taking in, being “filled” by life, I was “doing” my life.
When we are more awake, we feel more alive. Living in our thoughts is not the same thing. Living in our thoughts, giving too much time and consideration to where our minds are taking us, removes us from the moment we are in. It dilutes our experience of being alive.
There has been another phrase that has been resonant for me during this time: “taking in”. In this waking up, I have noticed a different sort of taking in. For example, taking in nature and feeling restored by it. Taking in, more fully, the love of family and friends has touched me deeply. Taking in the lived experiences of others more fully has woken me up to our inherent connection, our oneness and love. Taking in the pain, the rage and injustices have aligned me more powerfully to what matters to me. It has woken me up to radical love.
I have discovered that I can handle the waking up and the taking in. Not only can I handle it, but it is the doorway to a richer quality of living.
Christine Heath, a teacher in this field, once said to me, “Barb, we may have a learned tendency to withdraw inside when we feel afraid, but if you can learn to lean in rather than lean out, you will discover that the illusion is fear and beyond it lies the richer feeling of our innate nature. Beyond it lies love and connection.”
I've thought a lot about this over the last few weeks. I can lean into my fearful thinking, my upset, or I can lean into what is waking up. The conversation I had this last week is a great teacher for me. Afterwards, I would find my thinking taking me away from the feeling of aliveness & connection. I was starting to discount it, my mind wanted to sort it out, define it, but rather than doing that, I've been doing my best to just fall back into the feeling of the aliveness. I know it has so much more to show me than my assessing, evaluating and trying to make sense of it.
The experience of being fully alive, of waking up, or as Joseph Campbell says, “The rapture of being alive.”, means we lean into life and not away from it. We lean into the moment, not away from it. We see that being alive is not without friction, but the friction is showing us we are alive, we are shifting and evolving.
Despite our fears, insecurities or our defensiveness, we can all relate to the desire to be connected to life. We want to be touched and held by life and by each other.
If there is no water moving through a creek, it dries up. We are much the same way, if we continuously live in the surface of our thinking, or we run from our feelings, guard ourselves against getting hurt, the unknown or discomfort, we feel less alive. When we allow the full range of our human experience to flow through us; when we “take in” our lives and the lives of others; when we stop, look and see each other and the world around us; we feel the aliveness of ourselves and all of life.
Combined with the knowing that our essential nature is alive and within, we experience more of who we really are.
Every encounter, experience, disappointment, challenge or heartbreak has the potential to wake us up to what is alive and to what wants to live through us. When we lean into what is waking up, versus what happened, we discover new riches within.
When we allow ourselves to be “in” our lives, to connect to one another, to take in all of life, we feel the rapture of our aliveness.
“The experience of being fully alive, of waking up, means we lean into life and not away from it.”
When we feel our aliveness we feel our connection to each other and to all of life.
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Barbara Patterson is the owner of a global coaching and consulting company helping solopreneurs, entrepreneurs & leaders access more clarity, creativity, have greater impact and higher levels of fulfillment in work and life. She is the founder of Beyond Limits in Business, a global platform and community designed to point people to the source of human potential. That potential resides within and is experienced via our minds. Barb is also the host of the Real Business Real Lives podcast. You can follow Barb on Linkedin and Insta