Tag Archives: self-acceptance

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

14/365 ~ That's not me in the mirror. [EXPLORE]

We’ve all had times in our lives where we did not love ourselves. Sometimes, we hate to even look at ourselves in the mirror. But even so, I was surprised recently when I was teaching a Zumba class and I noticed one student left around 15 minutes into the class. The next week I received this email from him:

“Dear Orion:
Thank you so much for the class. I chose to leave, and I wanted you to know it had very little to do with you, except for the fact that you chose to have us look in the mirror. I hadn’t remembered how awful I am in front of mirrors. I had to leave when I caught a glimpse of myself. It’s old stuff, but it’s a weak-spot for me. I cannot sustain, as of yet, images of my physical form in mirrors. I really appreciated the class and found your enthusiasm infectious. Thanks.”

I know how it feels. I have been there myself… and so I was compelled to reply:

“I believe you need to start working on self-love. Unless you are a vampire, you cannot avoid mirrors. Most gyms and fitness studios have mirrors; you can’t escape them. It’s not about vanity; looking in the mirror helps you improve your form and visually gauge your progress. If you don’t examine yourself, you have little indication of what to improve. You are here to realize your true potential, and looking at yourself in the mirror with love is a powerful tool. Love yourself no matter what, and be grateful for having a healthy body. Be grateful for the fact that you are able to move, to breathe, to simply be alive. When you appreciate what you have, you give up all of the guilt, blame, shame and self-criticism that do not serve you. The choice is yours; you can choose to live your life with your head in the sand, or to confront what you need to work on. In order to feel better, in order to become your dreams and live the life you deserve, you need to look at what is happening with you.”

Most nights I go on YouTube and listen to things that empower me, like Abraham Hicks, Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, and so on. We have all gone through difficult times in our lives. I know I have. But it is how you get up, not how you fall, that defines you. Getting up is what matters. Working on you is just how it sounds; it is work. But it is so worth it; meditation, self-exploration, dressing nicely, pampering yourself, working out and eating healthy food all make you vibrant and will change your life.

You need to want to change and YOU have to do the work, my dear. There is no magic pill. Life will put “mirrors” in front of you. People will reflect emotions back at you: when you are angry they will get angry back at you, and when you smile they will smile back. It’s all good because it helps you look at yourself and improve what you do not like to see in you. People also will reflect kindness at you, helping you to notice and appreciate your inner beauty. It’s up to you to “wake up”; open your eyes to the lessons and to a brighter reality. No seminar, self-help book, audio program, DVD, or human being will validate you. It will help direct you, but you need to validate and love yourself. It’s up to you. Believe in yourself like I believe in you.

When I was having difficulties with my self-worth, I learned an exercise called “mirror work” from Louise Hay. I did it when I was in a place in my life where not only could I not look at myself in the mirror, but I was walking with my head down! I remember when I started working on self-love and self-acceptance and saying “I love you” to myself in front of a mirror, I immediately started crying because I was so consumed with self-hate and self-judgment. I am happy to report that this affirmation (with some repetition) completely shifted my perspective. Today I love the girl I see in the mirror, even in pajamas and without make-up. Do this exercise every time you pass by a mirror, and I promise you, within just a couple weeks you can create a breakthrough for yourself.

Mirror work

Every day, look at yourself in the mirror and say out loud: “I LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT.” When you hear that voice that says “Who are you kidding?” tell this voice “Thank you for sharing” and continue on. No matter what you did or did not do, you are worthy of love. If something good happened, run to the mirror and say “I love you, thank you.” If something bad happens, run to the mirror and say “I love you, I love no matter what.” Keep looking into your eyes with love and appreciation. You are worthy of love, just because you exist.

Remember this simple equation: work on your mind + work on your body + serve others = a life full of love and fulfillment.

I want to hear your stories. Please share how you found self-love and appreciation and any techniques that worked for you.

7 Ways To Find Your Inner (and Real) Happiness

fly highHappiness is one of the most misunderstood words in our vocabulary yet we search for this intangible state our whole lives: if I only had this or that, if I met the right partner, had a big house, a new car, the job I’ve always wanted, then I would be happy. The ancient yoga and spiritual teachings stress that happiness is real only when we let go of seeking material and transient things and discover the lasting joy that is within.

Every time we see a giggling baby or young child we’re reminded that we are all born with a natural and innate sense of happiness, that it is our birthright. We learn about suffering or unhappiness as we grow older, more externalized, and as circumstances change.

We taught a workshop where a number of the participants had lost loved ones in the past years: one had lost her son to AIDS, another had lost her husband, son, and mother all within twelve months, another’s partner had drowned. Others were dealing with specific illnesses, or difficult issues in their lives. What really emerged for everyone was the awareness that their real happiness lies within themselves, that it’s not dependent on someone or something outside of them. They had lost what they had thought of as their source of happiness—a loved one or their health—and now had to look more deeply within themselves. It was a weekend of many ‘aha’ moments!

Here are some of the ways our workshop participants discovered how to feel happy again:

1. Not take yourself too seriously. At times of hardship, such as loss or illness, it’s easy to lose your humor, and even easier to get involved with the negative aspects of what is happening. Remembering not to take yourself too seriously brings a lightness and acceptance to the weight of circumstance around you. Don’t forget—angels can fly because they take themselves lightly!

2. Not identify with suffering, loss, or illness, as being who you are. Many of our participants realized how they’d been identifying themselves as a cancer survivor / widow / recovering addict, or whatever it may be, but had not asked who they were without that label or identity. When you don’t identify with the negative issues, then who you really are has a chance to shine.

3. It’s OK to be you, just as you are, warts and all. You may think you’re imperfect, a mess, falling apart, hopeless, or unable to cope. But true perfection is really accepting your imperfections. It is accepting yourself, complete with all the things you like as well as the things you don’t like. In this way you’re not struggling with or rejecting yourself. Each one of is unique, a one-time offer, but we can’t know this if we are facing away from ourselves.

4. Make friends with yourself. Your relationship with yourself is the only one you have that lasts for the whole of your life, and you can be the greatest friend or the worst enemy to yourself. So it’s very important not to emotionally put down or beat yourself up. Just be kind.

5. Feel everything, whatever it may be. When you are suffering, it’s easy to want to deny or repress your feelings, as they get huge and overwhelming. But if you can really honor whatever you are feeling then it’ll bring you closer to the inner happiness beneath the suffering or grief. Acknowledging and making friends with your real feelings is the greatest gift.

6. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Treasure yourself. These are big steps, but each one liberates the heart and sets you free. You need to forgive yourself for feeling angry, for getting upset, for all things you think you’ve done wrong. They are in the past and who you are now is not who you were then. You can take any guilt or shame by the hand, invite it in for tea, and open yourself to self-forgiveness.

7. Meditate. There is an overwhelming amount of research showing how meditation changes the circuits in the part of the brain associated with contentment and happiness and stimulates the ‘feel-good’ factor. Meditating on love and kindness makes you much, much happier! And the only way to know this is to try it, so don’t hesitate.

* * *

Ed and Deb Shapiro are the authors of BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, with forewords by the Dalai Lama and Prof. Robert Thurman, contributions from many known meditation teachers, winner of the 2010 Nautilus Gold Book Award; and Your Body Speaks Your Mind,  winner of the Visionary Book Award. They are featured contributors on Oprah.com, HuffingtonPost.com, and Vividlife.me, where they host the acclaimed weekly LIVE radio show, Going Out Of Your Mind.

For more information go to: www.edanddebshapiro.com

How to Let Go Instead of Giving Up

Sunset Party Dancing Girl SilhouetteThe greatest stress in life is the stress we cannot control. Perhaps, it is no coincidence that at some point so many of us experience a painful, debilitating back pain which is actually the corresponding physical symptom of feeling like we have lost control of a situation or relationship. In other words: We want to be “back in power.”

Consequently at night, we cannot control our thoughts and have trouble letting go of what we should have said or done during the day. This is evidenced by our difficulty to stay asleep once we fall asleep. And when we don’t sleep, we are even more stressed and achy the next day. Basically, we are stuck.

The good news is that the body sends us signals regarding those stuck mindsets. The inability to let go of anger, negative thinking and that sense of failure tends to create inflammation in a specific body part, usually our weakest link. When you have a specific pain which the doctor has difficulty addressing, consider the emotional counterpart. Awareness of what your pain is trying to tell you  makes it go away as soon as you figure out the message. For example, when you are angry with another, you are most angry with the self for letting this person hurt you or take advantage. Ultimately you give up on the special relationship or quit the dream job instead of letting go of the hurt/anger. Isn’t it time to stop the self-sabotage?

You don’t have to give up on a relationship, quit a generally solid job, or give up a professional educational track because you feel powerless or diminished. A proven remedy is to let go of your self-criticism, your “perceived” hurt and humiliation, while you work through the uncomfortable situation or relationship with a kinder interpretation.

Consider these two questions:

* How much time and energy have you spent absorbed in all this negativity?
* What have you given up due to these negative emotions?

Know how to let go of self-blame while at the same time working on self-correction to do better. When you know how to let go of anger and shame, you can speak to yourself and to others like a compassionate coach or mentor with words of encouragement to transform a failure into a success. The ultimate question always is: Can you have compassion for yourself? When you are kind to yourself, you will be kind to others. Transform criticism into correction.

To let go instead of give up:

  • Have a heart to heart dialogue with yourself: “What am I not seeing about this situation?”
  • Be aware of your habitual reactions, breathe deeply, reconsider, and respond.
  • Stop putting yourself down. It’s time to lift yourself up and you will act from this higher vantage point instead of low down stressed out emotions.
  • Use humor to reinterpret the negativity. Seeing the inherent humor or the ultimate absurdity will most likely help you to find a solution.
  • Benjamin Franklin said that there was never a good war or a bad peace. Aim for peace in your own life and the lives of others.

From Longing to Belonging

Wisdom - Seeds of LightThe great Tibetan yogi Milarepa spent many years living in isolation in a mountain cave. As part of his spiritual practice, he began to see the contents of his mind as visible projections. His inner demons of lust, passion, and aversion would appear before him as gorgeous seductive women and terrifying wrathful monsters. In face of these temptations and horrors, rather than being overwhelmed, Milarepa would sing out, “It is wonderful you came today, you should come again tomorrow … from time to time we should converse.”

Through his years of intensive training, Milarepa learns that suffering only comes from being seduced by the demons or from trying to fight them. To discover freedom in their presence, he has to experience them directly and wakefully, as they are.

In one story, Milarepa’s cave becomes filled with demons. Facing the most persistent, domineering demon in the crowd, Milarepa makes a brilliant move—he puts his head into the demon’s mouth. In that moment of full surrender, all the demons vanish. All that remains is the brilliant light of pure awareness. As Pema Chodron puts it: “When the resistance is gone, the demons are gone.”

This story of Milarepa came to mind during a retreat I was on many years ago, when I was in full resistance to what is often called a “Vipassana Romance,” or a romantic illusion or fantasy about a person that fills the mind with desires. In my eyes, these desires were like demons consuming my spiritual life, ruining my meditation retreat.

When I finally recognized the battle I was in, it occurred to me that perhaps my Vipassana Romance was not the enemy of my meditation practice after all, but a natural experience that could serve my awakening. What would it be like to greet the demon of desire, to “converse” with it as Milarepa had?

Over the next few days, each time I realized I’d been lost in one of my flights of romantic illusion, I would note it as “erotic fantasy,” and pay close attention to the sensations in my body and the emotions that were arising. No longer avoiding my immediate experience, I would find myself filled with waves of excitement, sexual arousal, fear. Now, instead of resisting these feelings as demons, I just practiced accepting them and, with some curiosity, exploring them further.

The pressing ache in my chest opened into a deep grief—grief for all the lost moments of love, moments I’d missed because I’d been too preoccupied or busy to stop and open to them. I moved back and forth between erotic passion and this profound grieving about how separate I felt from what I really longed for. When the sensations of craving or sorrow became particularly intense, I tended to become lost again, thinking about what was missing in my life, fantasizing about ways I might fulfill my longing for love.

While I didn’t judge the fantasies as “bad,” I could see how they prevented me from being in touch with my actual experience. They kept me from tender presence—the gateway to what I most deeply longed for.

Although I became less immersed in my stories, I could see I was still holding on, trying to control the charged energies moving through me. My habitual reins—tightening my body, entertaining a running commentary on what I was doing—stopped me from letting go into the intensity and hugeness of wanting.

Late one evening, as I sat meditating alone in my room, my attention moved deeper and deeper into longing until I felt as if I might explode with it’s heart-breaking urgency. Yet at the same time I knew that was exactly what I wanted—I wanted to die into longing, into communion, into love itself. At that moment I could finally let my longing be all that it was. I even invited it—“Go ahead, please. Be as full as you are.”

I was putting my head in the mouth of the demon. I was saying “Yes,” surrendering wakefully into the wilderness of sensations, surrendering into the very embrace I was longing for. Like a child finally held close in her mother’s arms, I relaxed so fully that all boundaries of body and mind dissolved.

In an instant, I felt as if my body and mind were expanding out boundlessly in all directions—a flowing, changing stream of vibration, pulsing, tingling. Nothing separated “me” from this stream. Letting go entirely into rapture, I felt as open as the universe, wildly alive and as radiant as the sun. Nothing was solid in this dazzling celebration of life energy. I knew then that this was the fullness of loving what I love.

This love is what we all long for. When we bring Radical Acceptance to the enormity of desire, allowing it to be as it is, neither resisting it nor grasping after it, the light of our awareness dissolves the wanting self into its source. We find that we are naturally and entirely in love. Nothing is apart or excluded from this living awareness.

I realized that the “one I love” was everywhere, including within me. When we don’t fixate on a single, limited object of love, we discover that the wanting self dissolves into the awareness that is love loving itself.

The Buddha taught that by being aware of desire, we free ourselves from identifying with it. With Radical Acceptance, we begin to shed the layers of shame and aversion we have built around our “deficient, wanting self.” We see through the stories we have created—stories about a self who is a victim of desire, about a self who is fighting desire, about a self who tumbles into unhealthy desires, about a self who has to have something more, something different from what is right here, right now. Radical Acceptance dissolves the glue that binds us as a small self and frees us to live from the vibrant fullness of our being.

Longing, felt fully, carries us to belonging. The more times we traverse this path—feeling the loneliness or craving, and inhabiting its immensity, the more the longing for love becomes a gateway into love itself. Our longings don’t disappear, nor does the need for others. But by opening into the well of desire, again and again, we come to trust the boundless love that is its source.

Enjoy this short video on Desire and Deep Longing:

For more information visit: www.tarabrach.com

photo by: h.koppdelaney

Cook Your Way to Total Self Love

Pink Summer Cherry LoveMost of our fears and inner conflicts arise from a lack of self love. The first thing I tackle with clients is identifying and eradicating the root causes of self-beat, shame, guilt and insecurity. I call it “radical acceptance”.

Ironically, one of the best ways to build self-esteem, confidence and a deep, inner sense of contentment and acceptance is incredibly simple and easy to overlook.

Cooking for yourself and practicing conscious eating are perhaps the most primal and important acts of self love. We build a deep sense of trust in ourselves and the world (and relieve stress) when we take time to nurture ourselves by making our own food, sitting down, practicing gratitude and enjoying it mindfully.

You can begin to improve your relationship with food and your physical body by enjoying healthy meals that have been prepared for you, but investing time and energy to plan and prepare your own meals allows for the opportunity to reap the benefits of the loving energy you put in.

A potent message of worth and value seeps into the unconscious mind when we nurture ourselves. Food and shelter are our most primitive, basic acts of survival. When you practice self-care by maintaining a clean (sattvic), safe, inviting home and cook for yourself, you send a powerful message to your psyche that you are worthy and important.

Love is an action verb. How do you love yourself? What do you do to show love? Actions speak louder than words. Affirmations are great…but how are you showing up for yourself on a daily, consistent basis.

Self love through food is connected to the root chakra, or first chakra, which governs the first stage of emotional and psychological development. The root chakra (mulhadhara) is connected to physical identity, physical body, grounding, our relationship to the mother and sense of feeling safe and secure in the world.

Eating disorders, food addictions or obsessive control over diet, the body and food often result from a child growing up in an unsafe environment (abuse, war zone, constant fighting, financial distress, physical illness) or having an insecure attachment to the mother (mother was depressed, alcoholic/addict, working all the time, emotionally unavailable or unsafe). Our unconscious tries to overcompensate, insulate or create an external sense of safety or control through our food choices and physical body.

Always eating out, rushing through or skipping meals, watching TV during meals or choosing unhealthy foods sends a message that you are not worth the time and effort to slow down, nourish, nurture and listen to your body and your deepest needs.

Focusing on your relationship with food builds a sense of safety, trust and connectedness. Your arms and hands are a horizontal extension of your heart center (chakra). When you prepare a meal for yourself, you literally infuse loving energy from your heart into the food you eat. Ayurvedic master Bri Maya Tiwari recommends massaging your food with your bare hands as much as possible and focusing on positive thoughts while you cook. Send loving thoughts, pray, chant or play pleasant music while you cook. These vibrations all end up on your plate, in your belly and healing your mind and heart.

Nourishing yourself by preparing your own food and eating consciously can lead to big shifts internally and externally. Start by making a couple of meals for yourself each week. Take time to eat each meal in a ritual space (clean environment, at a table, sitting down) and mindfully savor each bite. Celebrate quality time with family, friends or yourself.

Lovingly preparing food and cooking for yourself will increase feelings of self-worth, inner security, grounding and be a ritual to receive the love you give yourself – the most important love in the world.

* * *

Ashley will be leading a retreat to Galapagos Islands in July 2013 and works with clients worldwide via SKYPE. Ashley is a member of Young Living Essential Oils, so if you’d like to sign up using her as a sponsor or want more info on oils, click here.

Deepak Chopra: How Can We Live With Least Effort?

How can we live with least effort? In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak lends his advice on effortless living. It doesn’t mean that life suddenly becomes easy, but rather that you are in perfect harmony with the rhythms of the Universe. Take a look:

The law of least effort is based on the idea that nature’s intelligence functions with effortless spontaneity. Even Jesus mentions this in the New Testament. What is the law, really?

It means harnessing the forces of the universe and becoming aligned with them. There are three components to this. The first law is acceptance of yourself and everybody else. This removes the great burden of judgment. The second is responsibility – the ability to respond creatively without reactivity. you reach a higher plain of creativity and imagination if you are not reactive. The third law is defenselessness. This strips away the need to defend your point of view. When you give up being right, you ultimately get what you want.

Living a life without resistance and going with the flow of the forces of the Universe requires the least effort, when you live your life.

 

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and harness the effortless spontaneity of the Universe!

Who Needs A Partner When You Can Marry Your Self?

FreedomDo you think that you need someone else to make you happy? Why not marry yourself instead? Nadine Schweigert, a woman in South Dakota who had been through a divorce, created a wedding ceremony to marry herself. If that sounds strange to you, then maybe you’ve never abandoned your true Self. But if you’re like me you may have found yourself in relationships where you separated from your authentic Self to please others and make them happy. Self-betrayal is no way to have a healthy relationship with anyone. So the woman in South Dakota invited a small group of friends and family to join her in a celebration of vows to herself. The vows included a commitment to love, respect, and cherish her Self.

How often do we think we need someone else to love us to be happy when what we really need is to make the big steps to care for, nurture, and love ourselves? This kind of Self love is not the narcissistic kind that focuses on taking care of selfish pleasures. It’s about going deep and learning to give the kind of love that we yearn for from others to ourselves. When we marry our Self, we develop the relationship between our self and that higher, Divine Self. That wise Self will guide and dance with us. Life becomes magical and alive with synchronicity. It may not always be easy, but Nadine says that through kindness to herself she lost 50 pounds and stopped drinking.

If you were to fall in love with your Self and write a love letter, what would that look and feel like? What would you say? I challenge you to at least begin to look at your Self with the look of love using eyes of kindness that appreciate your qualities. Why not give your Self a hug and say, “I do”?

* * *

Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery”. A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/DebraMoffittAwakeintheWorld

Open Your Hand to Open Your Mind

Letting go of thoughts that bother you doesn’t always have to involve self-talk.  In my clinical work with clients I tend to prefer a variety of experiential approaches.  Here’s a simple experiential technique of how to literally let go of the tension that comes with the rumination.  I first described this in my 2010 book, Present Perfect, but I’ve been using it for years and my clients seem to always like it.

When wanting to let go, try this.  Think of the worst part of what happened.  As you do, clench your fist as tightly as you can.  Notice the tension.  Think of this as the tension of holding on to the past.  Recognize that you have a choice right now:  you can stay tense or you can let go.  Decide if you want to hold on to the thought about what happened or if you are ready to let go of it.  When you decide to let go, gradually open your fist to drop the issue.  Notice the release of the tension. If the thought still has hold on you, repeat until it doesn’t.  If what happened bothers you in more than one way, think of the next worst part.  Repeat the sequence. 

This simple letting-go technique builds on a couple of  old psychological methods such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and exposure-based response prevention (ERP).  But unlike the classic PMR and ERP (which can take up a lot of time) this hand-opening/mind-opening technique is a kind of coping short-cut.  And this on-the-go simplicity is coping power.

In sum, open your hand to open your mind.

 

Adapted from Present Pefect: a Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need to Control (New Harbinger, Somov, 2010)

photo by: ingridtaylar

When We Are Ready to Be Free

At the dawning of spiritual maturity, as in biological maturity, a push or even a shock is often necessary to provide the catalyst for essential growth. The birth of true knowing follows the death of the previously known. What was previously known may have been true in its time, but when finished becomes false knowing or ignorance. We can meet what we falsely know about ourselves when we are ready to be free.

Before spiritual readiness we will hide from the worst or dramatize the worst with tragic melancholy. Or we may deny it altogether. The thinking process of our brain is filled with powers that allow us to decorate reality or dodge and cover whatever may threaten our version of reality. Finally we recognize that aspect of inner bondage that we most fear is who or what we really are. If we have been secretly frightened by our hidden inner self, and if we have been taught that our true nature must be tamed into submission because of its potential for selfish evil, we will keep our conscious attention separate from and be afraid of that naked core of ourselves.

Even if our upbringing has been more enlightened, and we are taught that we are essentially pure and good, the wild untamed parts of our personality are likely to frighten us enough that we keep them hidden in shamed secrecy. They show themselves in nightmares and in images of hell.

To be willing to turn toward the aspects of ourselves that we knowingly separate from our outward self-image is the mark of maturity. This maturity is inseparable from the readiness to be free. Not free of what we know to lurk in the core, but free to discover directly and unflinchingly what is there. When we are free of our conceptual definitions of ourselves, we are free to be fully whole. We then directly know ourselves as indefinable consciousness, freely being itself. When we are willing and ready, whatever we think is the worst of us turns into one of the most important teachers of freedom.

It is not always so easy to meet the beast we think lives inside us. We don’t often choose to leave a protected place, even if it is a prison. Although some ideas we have about ourselves are easily put aside or easily fall away on their own, transformational leaps take us, or throw us, into unknown territory with no reference points.

We may feel an internal pull toward what is calling us in this unknown realm and be terrified of it at the same time. We may find ourselves losing what we never considered could be lost: our perceived protection from our innermost selves. Desperately struggling with and fearing who we think we are, we finally find the courage to take a moment and directly inquire into this “thing” that has us by the throat.

When we can recognize that the soul matures naturally and sometimes with pain, we can be more willing to open to whatever we are feeling. We can stop our process of self-protection and instead self inquire. If we don’t resist whatever is being experienced, then the underlying sweetness of life is found even in the bitterest parts.

We can’t know beforehand that even in the worst the best can be discovered. But we can discover the truth of that. We can try to remember our discovery for whenever the next change occurs, and that memory may be somewhat useful. But to directly know what is here in this moment, all memory — even the most supportive — must be put aside. When your attention is fully present here, in this moment, regardless of what is appearing here, there is a great discovery. Every definition of yourself comes from references to the past and hopes or fears for the future. When your mind is freed from definitions of any kind, you can easily and directly discover what is really here rather than clinging to any definition of what is here. Falling into the core reveals the radiant spaciousness at the core.

This blog is adapted from Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story, published by Penguin Tarcher in 2011 and now available in paperback for the first time on Sept. 13, 2012.

In this life-changing book, Gangaji uses the telling of her own life story to help readers uncover the truth in their own. Publisher’s Weekly said, “This gently flowing but often disarming volume invites readers to examine the narratives that shape them, and is a call to pass beyond personal stories to find a deeper, more universal self.”

Gangaji will be a keynote speaker at the Wake Up Festival in Estes Park, Colo. on Aug. 24. Visit www.gangaji.org for more information about Gangaji’s upcoming events this fall, including her monthly webcast / conference Series, With Gangaji, which is currently undergoing an in-depth study of Hidden Treasure.

photo by: aussiegall

3 Steps to Proclaiming Your Psychological Independence

The West is in a constant war with reality.

Perpetually dissatisfied with what is, we are desperately trying to perfect it. This one and only reality seems never enough and we feel ever entitled to more: bigger houses, bigger (hybrid) cars, bigger (Anime-sized) eyes, bigger market shares, bigger tax deductions, bigger incomes, bigger bonuses, bigger breasts, bigger penises, bigger egos, and bigger wars. We have been culturally programmed to endlessly optimize and supersize, to constantly perfect ourselves and everyone else around us. Our appetite for more has been kindled to the level of insatiability. No wonder we feel psychologically starved and existentially empty.

We have been taught to chase the unattainable: to be more than what we are at any given point in time. We are a culture of idealistically naive strivers unable to be content with what is if only for a moment. This absurdly unrealistic goal (to be more than what we are at any given point in time) comes with the high cost of psychological dependence. Feeling chronically imperfect, we sell out for reassurance, validation and approval. Feeling chronically incomplete, we compete in consumption and stuff ourselves beyond measure.

This chronic deficit of self-acceptance becomes a matter of national deficit and undermines the socio-political independence of our society. Long-term sovereignty of a nation rests with psychological independence of its constituents. A nation of psychologically insecure denizens is at war with itself, and is, thus, divided.

On this 4th of July, 2012, and onward, I encourage you to proclaim your psychological independence – from a hollowing-out and incessant desire for more. Your individual psychological health is part of our collective wealth. Self-help, self-care, self-awareness and self-acceptance are patriotic. Stop waging war on yourself: you are doing your best, nonstop, all the time. On some level you know it. Make it official. And as soon as we do, as a nation, we will shift the paradigm from conspicuous consumption of goods and calories to the era of conspicuous compassion and moderation.

Proclamation of Psychological Independence

1. We confuse perfection with imperfection, but there is no difference (between these two) unless, of course, you compare what is with what isn’t.

Explanation: What’s real is real, what’s not is not.

Here’s a brief inventory of what exists on this planet at any given point in time: the planet, of course; the animal kingdom; and you (the humankind) with its fantasies of what still could be. My point is this: there is no other reality at any given point in time aside from the one that actually is. We can now envision and imagine a theoretically better world and we can compare it to the real world that exists and we can say: “I don’t want this actual world, I want that theoretical world.”

Suffering is borne out of this very comparison: the ideal always beats the pants off the real. In any comparison of what is with what isn’t, in any comparison of reality to fiction, fiction always looks prettier. So, as we envision what still could be, we ignore what still is. But here’s the existential glitch: there is only what there is at any given point in time. If we don’t know how to be content with what is, we are stuck chasing the tail of desire, constantly optimizing, supersizing, perfecting.

Bottom-line is this: perfection is a state that is beyond improvement; reality is the best that it can be at any given point in time (even if it had been better at some point in the past or if it can be still perfected at some point in the future); if so, then whatever is, at any given point in time, is the best that it can be, i.e. perfect. If this momentary reality (the one and only we have at any point in time) is perfect, then it is only not enough when we compare it with what isn’t (i.e. our idealistic and naïve visions of still could be).

2. If I could be this very moment better, worse or other than what I am right now I wouldn’t be myself. But I am, perfectly imperfect.

Explanation: At any given point in time, you are what you are. That is self-evident.

What this means is that at any given point in time (like right now) you are not less, not more, but exactly what you are, i.e. all you can be (right now). If you were in any way different right now, you wouldn’t be you, but you are you, exactly as you are. What this means is that right now you are the best that you can be. Why? Because you cannot be any better right now. Sure you can be better at a later point in time, but we are talking about this moment, the one and only moment that there is, in which you are exactly what you are, not worse, not better, but just you. Doing the best that you can (at any given point in time) = being the best that you can (at any given point in time).

I see this as inevitable perfection. You have arrived in this moment, perfectly imperfect, with nothing amiss and fully realized. Self-realization isn’t when you are more than you can be at any given point in time; self-realization is when you realize that you are this real you, not the perfectionistic figment of imagination of what you should be right now. Understand this in your bones: you are what you are and that’s enough. Accept your inevitable perfection at this moment and perfect the future if you still so desire. Self-acceptance isn’t the end of striving (no, you can still strive, just without that overcompensating urgency and rushed desperation) but a beginning of psychological independence.

3. It is always like that, not just during this now but at any now that you are alive. Present is perfect.

Explanation: You are doing the best that you can and, therefore, being the best that you can be, not just now, but always.

Sure it might not seem so when you compare you to not-you (i.e. to some theoretical you that never exists or to others who are, by definition, not like you). But if you compare you to you, as you are, then you are always doing the best that you can do and, therefore, being the best that you can be, non-stop, without fail.

Think this through until this becomes self-evident: there is no past right now nor is there any future in this moment, there is only this, this moment, this now, and it’s always like that. You are always in some kind of now, in which you are only what you are, not more, not less, but just enough. Reality does not short-change us: there is no celestial lay-away in which the reality is withholding better versions of itself until a later time. Right now, which is always, there is only this, this moment, however it is, not less, not more, such as it is, perfectly imperfect.

Look around for a moment: everything is what it is, if a door is half-ajar, it is half-ajar, if it is closed, it is closed, if it is open, it is open; if the sky is azure blue, then it is, if, however, it is overcast, then it is overcast. And so are you – in this moment, which is always, – all you can be, perfectly imperfect. Accept this ordinary, self-evident perfection of what you are in this moment and, if you still need to, perfect the future. Savor the new unhurried calmness of this continued self-optimization: when perfecting yourself from the platform of self-acceptance, you take your time living.

From Conspicuous Consumption to Conspicuous Compassion

Am I oversimplifying? Hell, yeah! My mind is still green (and I do hope it stays this way), but it does (fortuitously) know that the greener pasture on the other side of the hill is just an optical illusion, just the Jungian shadow of our insatiable, culturally-kindled appetite for more.

I’ll be writing and talking about all this jazz of self-acceptance and inevitable perfection as long as I breathe. My motive has nothing to do with altruism but self-preservation. You see, the world of self-rejection is a merciless jungle. If I can help you accept yourself, my guess is that you’ll be kinder to others, which, in turn, will translate into a hopefully less hostile world all around. Self-acceptance means psychological independence, i.e. a world in which people mostly mind their own business, meeting their psychological needs in-house, without psychological blackmail or relational warfare, without surface-deep resource-intense contests of egos and psychological careerism.

When we realize that we are doing the best that we can and being the best that we can, at any given point in time, eventually it dawns on us that everyone’s like that and that, my fellow mind, becomes a platform for forgiveness and compassion. When you stop attacking yourself you automatically call a truce on the world at large. It is for this and only this reason that I keep jabbering about self-acceptance: self-acceptance powers compassion and compassion – at the end of the day – is just another form of self-care. On this July 4th and every day onward, be psychologically independent, even if you are in debt otherwise!

Now, somebody, toss me a veggie hot-dog and a couple of sparklers. Time to light up the sky!

Adapted from Present Perfect: a Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need to Control

www.eatingthemoment.com

www.drsomov.com

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...