When you feel the need to make a shift in your life, you really have to start by making a shift in your thinking. And in order to change something, you have to be able to see it clearly. Sometimes a way of being or thinking, or moving through the world has become so ingrained, we take it for granted. We assume this is “how things are”, and this is , “the way we are”, and that how we perceive things is accurate. Creating some space between yourself and your thoughts, so you can take a good look at them, is really the beginning of any change.
Our experiences shape us. We can only know what we know, after all. And sometimes what we know is based on lies. If you grew up in an unsafe environment, then what you “know” is that people can’t be trusted, and how you feel is irrelevant, and the best you can hope for is just to survive. If you’ve been betrayed, disappointed, neglected, abused, or made to feel that you have to earn love in order to be worthy of it, you have some serious unlearning to do. But if these beliefs are so much a part of you that you don’t even question them, it’s impossible to unstick yourself. You’re trying to work within a false paradigm that’s been built around the idea that you are not good enough, not strong enough, not lovable enough to have life look or feel any other way. So the first step toward liberation is simply to recognize that you have a perspective, and that your perspective may be really bent.
Also, for many people, the ideas that,” you are not your thoughts, and you are not your body”, are totally new. You do not have to believe everything you think, as the saying goes. You do not have to identify with, or act upon every feeling you have. Like anything living, feelings arise, peak and subside. They don’t go on and on interminably. But many people are so reactive, they feel something, and act out. There’s no space between the event of the feeling, and the response to it. There’s no room to be curious, to observe, to reflect, to consider, and then to act. Or to not act.
Creating space between your thoughts, and between your feelings and your responses to them, is a life-changer. Knowing yourself is at the heart of any spiritual practice, and it’s also the key to living your best life. How do we know people? We spend some quality time with them, yes? We observe them, we listen to them with an open heart and an open mind and a desire to examine what’s real for them, what’s true for them. We ask questions when we’re confused. We trust, we nurture, we embrace. This is how we get close to people. You are a person. If you want to know and understand yourself, you need to spend some quality time with you.
It’s good to think about looking at things in a different way, or to consider whether your thoughts are weakening you or strengthening you. But if you really feel the need to make a change, if you’re deeply unhappy, feeling stuck, frustrated, or paralyzed by fear or a lack of confidence or self-esteem, of course you’re going to have to get to work. You have to deal with your particular mind, your specific way of being, your personal way of moving through the world and interacting with other people. Your own history, belief systems, struggles with intimacy, or difficulty acting on your own behalf. If you feel cut off from your own intuition, if you’ve lost the thread, you have to find tools that work for you so you can start again. Until you exhale for the final time, it’s never too late to do that.
Above is a link to a class. Let’s say doing this class is your homework. There’s a three-minute talk about making a shift, a five-minute seated meditation, and a short yoga practice. It would be great if you had some paper and a pen handy. The meditation is designed to help you take a look at the current state of your mind, and the quality of the relationship you’re having with yourself. You’re not trying to change anything at this point, you’re just looking for a baseline. You want to observe your “default setting”. Doing this once won’t get you there. It’s meant to be done every day for a week, so you can see how things are with you in general, not just on one random day. The practice is designed to get you breathing, and beyond that, to breathe in a conscious way, so you engage your mind with something that’s happening in the now. You train your mind on the present moment. If you observe during your meditation that your mind is loud, redundant and obsessive, you use the breath, and the physical practice to quiet the storm. If you find that your inner dialogue is harsh and unforgiving, you use your practice to feed a loving voice. If you struggle with a pose, that’s wonderful. You get to see if you can face the challenge calmly, and with compassion for yourself. If you can’t, that’s what you work on all week. If you fall out of a pose, you see if you can practice falling calmly (Type A personalities and perfectionists, take note).
You have to work with your own inner dialogue, your own personality, your own tendencies. At a certain point, it can’t be conceptual anymore, you need the visceral, raw, personal experience. Meet me back here in a week for another class that will build on this one. If enough of you participate, we’ll turn this into a 30-day challenge to make a shift. There’s no winner, or rather, everyone wins. You can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) all week and let me know how you’re doing, and what challenges you’re facing. Please be patient, I will answer everyone. If you’re serious about healing, I really want to help. Sending you love, as always, Ally Hamilton #timetogetbusy #toolsforhealing #dothework #noexcuses #letsstarttheparty #lifeisgood
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