Tutu day while riding the North Rim of the Grand Conayon with friends and family
Bimidisiwin – Living Life to the Fullest
Bimidisiwin is an Ojibway word taught to me by one of my most influential spiritual teachers, Grandmother Keewaydinoquay. This word means, “living life to the fullest” and is a central concept to the Ojibway culture.
Most every religion and culture throughout the world teaches some form of the concept of embracing a life of ease, beauty, peace, joy and abundance. Christianity teaches the idea of “heaven on Earth,” yoga literally means “union” and the Hindus talk of “samadi,” the state of bliss when body, mind and spirit are one. Throughout my life, I have studied with various spiritual teachers and it turns out, every one of them taught a similar concept.
It’s only natural that I would be attracted to studying with spiritual masters. My mother was an Ursiline nun before marriage. She taught me to accept each person’s unique process of unfolding as the beauty and perfection of life. In contrast, my father, who is part Mayflower pioneer, part Ojibway Indian, loved the wild forests and rivers. He taught me to trust and play in the wonder and glory of the natural world. I was a naturalist in urban schools and an Audubon Center. Eventually, I studied business development, investing and executive coaching as well.
Through all my explorations of spirituality, ecology and business, I began to see similarities. Whether it’s nature, personal growth or business development, we all follow the same patterns. Often times, just before an expansive time of growth, one goes through a time of darkness and chaos. It turns out, that chaos and instability is exactly what is necessary for growth to occur. Whether it’s the transformation of a caterpillar to butterfly, learning to communicate authentically with others or the development of a new product or new management, the old structure must break down to make room for something new.
The ancient spiritual scriptures and the teachings of the spiritual masters remind us of that periods of darkness, depression and loneliness are not only normal and natural; they are an essential aspect of all growth. These universal times of chaos, instability, anxiety and depression can be embraced and supported to maximize nature’s intended results of growth while minimizing further unnecessary chaos, hurt and pain.
Often times, acceptance of this dark time is when magic occurs. When we open to the unknown, the Mystery, we allow for the unexpected, for more than what we can imagine. We build trust, faith and clarify our vision and purpose.
The concept of Bimidisiwin, or living life to the fullest, will always entail times of outgrowing the very structures that once gave us security and stability. Like the chick inside the eggshell, what was once nourishing and comforting, it is now stifling and painful. It’s scary to leave, but painful to stay. Thus, is the journey of life!
I often think of Bimidisiwin as a vibration; a vibration within me that harmonizes with the vibration I feel within the ancient balance and harmony of the Universe. Through guidance from many teachers and my own spiritual practices, I have trained myself to be aware when I am not in the vibration of Bimidisiwin. It’s a practice of becoming conscious of the unconscious. And that takes practice.
There is a natural expression of anxiety and depression that falls within the universal vibration of harmony, within the beauty of the ebb and flow of life. Often times, rather than being recognized as a necessary aspect of the spiritual process of unfolding, it is seen as an unnatural, out of balance, physical ailment. People mistake this for something wrong and need to stop it immediately before it gets worse. Many people rush to a doctor for medication to repress the chemical process of the body when their spirit is asking for something else. True relief is often found by relaxing into the process, allowing for the Mystery and magic of spirit to take its course into new, unknown territory.
This takes courage, endurance of the heart and spirit — essential qualities for the development of Bimidisiwin – living life to the fullest. There is a lot of support to be found for this time. Support is often found from new people and new places, rather from your familiar sources. Opening up to this may feel very vulnerable at first.
So know that it is not only normal, but necessary to feel a full range of feelings while living life to the fullest. As natural as inhalation and exhalation, all of nature goes through times of expansion and contraction within the greater balance and harmony of the Universe. Bimidisiwin!