Did you ever ride Disneyland's Space Mountain? This roller coaster is in full darkness - the twists and turns are only mildly perceived with the help of human senses. Eyes, somewhat adjusted to the dark, make out the structural framework of the roller coaster which seems to be much too close to the vehicle itself; only daring folks (hopefully with short arms) are crazy enough to hold their hands high above their heads! Ears can hear the train's contact with the rails and perhaps detect which direction the coaster is heading, although the screams of other riders are far more audible. Bodies feel the climbing, dipping and swerving of the ride and instantly try to anticipate its next sharp move; there's some pretty good wiggle room with only a lap belt to keep you in the car. Spiritual senses, such as intuition, are often left in the dust as the rocket launches full speed ahead!
No, we are not at Disneyland, and no, we aren't riding Space Mountain right now.
However, as the economy dips, relationships swerve and hardships are the only things that seem to be climbing, you may be wondering how to get off this unpredictable ride - or at least shed some light on it so you can see what's ahead and perhaps brace yourself.
First and foremost, getting off the ride is not an option. Your vehicle is moving much too fast, you are wearing a lap belt and there are far too many obstacles. And although it may seem like an eternity, in the greater scheme of things, this particular ride will end soon enough - every ride comes to an end. And, you have to trust that if you were really in danger, the ride would stop, the lights would turn on, and you would be escorted safely to the nearest exit.
Lights can be helpful, but in the case of Space Mountain, the point of the ride is not to see or know what's coming next. Perhaps in our human and spiritual maturity, we've ridden all the other types of roller coasters and we were bored. We wanted something new and unpredictable. We trusted that we could handle the intensity of a roller coaster in the dark.
Whether or not you can see what's ahead, your body automatically reacts to the intensity life hands you. Seeing may help, but really, how would you brace yourself?
Some folks - usually in a fearful state - hold on tightly and try to keep their bodies firmly in place on roller coasters. Yet, most of the time, too much bracing - in a desire to resist every bump and turn - can be counterproductive and whiplash may result. Perhaps lifting our arms above our head in the dark isn't the best choice for this particular ride, but flowing with the vehicle as it twists and dips is not only more gentle on our bodies, it implies we are skilled riders. After being beaten and jostled due to our own rigidity on roller coasters past, we have learned how to ride with grace and ease.
Screaming, of course, is always an option. Some laugh, some yell, and yes, there are those who were not fully prepared for such intensity who cry. All of these reactions are releases for the body and spirit during stressful - even joyfully stressful - situations.
Although our senses are here to guide us, it is a primal instinct to use them for our survival. We listen, watch, feel, smell and taste whatever necessary to ensure our safety. When times challenge us, we may even be on ultra-alert and hyper-sensitive. This doesn't always serve us, however. For example, we might receive an adrenaline overload, run into the face of danger or freeze completely. So, perhaps, it's better to have some of them disabled at times? Maybe not seeing what's coming is better for us in our current situations?
Since we cannot see what's ahead on Space Mountain, it requires a huge amount of trust; hence skilled riders know how to surrender to the ride and simply go with it. When your physical senses "fail" you, maybe it's actually for your own good.
And what about those spiritual senses? Our physical senses are strongly linked to our intuitive senses, and these, too, are set on self-protection default. It may not be able to see and predict what's going to happen, or when, but it can guide you. Learning to tune into your own intuition is simply a matter of paying attention to what you are already receiving with your other senses. Then, by careful "listening" to your inner voice and "seeing" with your inner sight, you will likely get other information to guide you. Maybe you won't know the next turn, but you sense - physically and/or spiritually - that the ride is about to turn left and drop downward. Sometimes you turn left and drop downward, and other times you are surprised to find a sharp right instead.
However, if you are fully surrendered to the roller coaster, which way it turns really won't matter too much.
All in all, however you choose to ride your current roller coaster of life, just remember that it's just one of many in the amusement park. There are lots of rides for lots of personalities. If this one isn't to your liking, trust that it will end soon enough, that you will be able to safely get off it, and know you can go find another ride. And, since you did fork our a chunk of change to get in the park, and you did get in line (even begrudgingly) for that darkened roller coaster, you might as well try to have fun!