Let Go and Find Yourself

” In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. 

It will be a permanent Self, rooted in awareness and creativity. 

Once you have captured this you have captured the world.”                

~ Deepak Chopra

close up photo of woman with her hands tied with rope

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Life is a journey of letting go in order to discover what really matters. Yet we find ourselves clinging to the past and the very things that bring suffering and hold us back.

Letting go is a part of the natural rhythm of life.

Letting go:

Of every exhalation

Of the day as we fall asleep

Of our children as they grow up and leave home

Of things that no longer serve us

Of a past that weighs us down

Of relationships that no longer nurture us

Of roles that we have outgrown

Of over thinking

Of our habits and conditioning

Of “me” “I” and “mine” as we experience our connection to something more than our little self.

  •  Take a few moments to pause and reflect on all the things that you have let go of in the past…
  • The things that you are working on right now…
  • And what you might still be holding on to…

Trust in your ability to let go and embrace it fully with an open mind and heart.

In taking these courageous steps every day we come to know our true permanent Self and move towards real freedom.

Namaste

Judgment, Approval and Growing into Yourself

person holding a green plant

Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

The following is a story from Rachel Naomi Remen about how we judge, seek approval, hide our true selves – like spores. At some point, when the time is right, we grow by accepting all parts of ourselves and finding our way to become all that we can be.

I was in my forties when the light started to touch the spore in me. I was drawn to become a certified coach and to take up yoga. And then everything started to turn upside down, especially in my relationships with my husband and family.
Growth never happens in the comfortable. But I was lucky to have mentors to support me through this mid life confusion and into the transformation that followed.

Who would have thought that I would uncover such a big part of myself that was hidden. Or would now be calling myself a yoga teacher, coach, mentor and blogger! I am honored to be on this journey with you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“The life in us is diminished by judgment far more frequently than by disease. Our own self-judgment or the judgment of other people can stifle our life force, its spontaneity and natural expression. Unfortunately, judgment is commonplace. It is as rare to find someone who loves us as we are as it is to find someone who loves themselves whole.

Judgment does not only take the form of criticism. Approval is also a form of judgment. When we approve of people, we sit in judgment of them as surely as when we criticize them. Positive judgment hurts less acutely than criticism, but it is judgment all the same and we are harmed by it in far more subtle ways.
To seek approval is to have no resting place, no sanctuary. Like all judgment, approval encourages a constant striving. It makes us uncertain of who we are and of our true value. This is as true of the approval we give ourselves as it is of the approval we offer others. Approval can’t be trusted. It can be withdrawn at any time no matter what our track record has been. It is as nourishing of real growth as cotton candy. Yet many of us spend our lives pursuing it.

Some people spend enormous amounts of time considering the impression that their words and behaviors create, checking how their performance will affect their audience, playing always for approval. Others make a tiny gap between their thoughts and their words which allows them to say only that which they feel will please others. A great deal of energy goes into this process of fixing and editing ourselves.

We may have even come to admire in ourselves what is admired, expect what is expected, and value what is valued by others. We have changed ourselves into someone that the people who matter to us can love. Sometimes we no longer know what is true for us, in which direction our own integrity lies.

We surrender our wholeness for a variety of reasons. Among the most compelling are our ideas of what being a good person is all about. Sometimes it is not the approval of other people but the approval of a spiritual school or teacher which dictates which parts of us we keep and which we hide.
The natural self, a complex living interchange of seemingly opposite characteristics, gets whittled down against some acquired standard of social and spiritual acceptability. Few of us are able to love ourselves as we are. We may even have become ashamed of our wholeness.

Parts of ourselves which we may have hidden all of our lives out of shame are often the source of our healing. We have all been taught that certain of our ways don’t fit into the common viewpoint and values of the society or the family into which we have been born. Every culture, every family has its Shadow. When we’re told that “big boys don’t cry,” and “ladies never disagree with anyone,” we learn to avoid judgment by disowning our feelings and our perspectives. We make ourselves less whole. It is only human to trade wholeness for approval. Yet parts we disown are not lost, they are just forgotten. We can remember our wholeness at any time. In hiding it, we have kept it safe.

One of the most dramatic manifestations of the life force is seen in the plant kingdom. When times are harsh and what is needed to bloom cannot be found, certain plants become spores. These plants dampen down and wall off their life force in order to survive. It is an effective strategy. Spores found in mummies, spores thousands of years old, have unfolded into plants when given the opportunity of nurture.

When no one listens, children form spores. In an environment hostile to their uniqueness, when they are judged, criticized, and reshaped through approval into what is wanted rather than supported and allowed to develop naturally into who they are, children wall the unloved parts of themselves away. People may become spores young and stay that way throughout most of their lives. But a spore is a survival strategy, not a way of life. Spores do not grow. They endure. What you needed to do to survive may be very different from what you need to do to live.

Plant spores are opportunists. The life force waits in them, scanning the environment, looking for the first opportunity to bloom. But people may forget that becoming a spore is only a temporary strategy. Few check the environment, as plant spores do, to see if conditions have changed and they can find what they need to bloom and reclaim their wholeness. Many of us still hide the parts of ourselves that were unacceptable to our parents and teachers although our parents are long gone and their world with them. In the world of my childhood, boys never cried. Those that did were sissies. Of course, all girls were supposed to be sissies. The world we live in now offers far greater opportunities for expression, but we may still live in it as if it were the hostile terrain of our childhood. The saddest part is that we may have forgotten what it is like to be whole. What it is like to feel and to cry, what it is like to take initiative and have a viewpoint.

Reclaiming ourselves usually means coming to recognize and accept that we have in us both sides of everything. We are capable of fear and courage, generosity and selfishness, vulnerability and strength. These things do not cancel each other out but offer us a full range of power and response to life. Life is as complex as we are. Sometimes our vulnerability is our strength, our fear develops our courage, and our woundedness is the road to our integrity. It is not an either/or world. It is a real world. In calling ourselves “heads” or “tails,” we may never own and spend our human currency, the pure gold of which our coin is made.

But judgment may heal over time. One of the blessings of growing older is the discovery that many of the things I once believed to be my shortcomings have turned out in the long run to be my strengths, and other things of which I was unduly proud have revealed themselves in the end to be among my shortcomings. Things that I have hidden from others for years turn out to be the anchor and enrichment of my middle age. What a blessing it is to outlive your self-judgments and harvest your failures.

~ Rachel Naomi Remen*

 

*Remen, Rachel Naomi. Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal, 10th Anniversary Edition (pp. 35-38). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Embrace your Authentic Self in the New Year

middle ground moment

Every year I choose  to recommit to becoming more authentic and true. To accept my human imperfections and to keep listening to my heart and soul for guidance.

The best New Year’s intention is to live up to our values and be authentic and kind in our decisions and actions.

There is all the difference in the world between believing in something and actually living it! May the New Year bring renewed commitment to all of our journeys.

~~~

1. Keep returning to  your middle ground instead of rushing through life’s precious moments

2. Keep appreciating and let go of chasing

3. Keep nourishing yourself and stop doing what you know is bad for you

4. Keep identifying your own gifts and stop comparing yourself to others 

5. Keep being true to yourself instead of being good 

6. Keep being honest with yourself instead of falling into denial

7. Keep becoming fully you instead of trying to become somebody else

8. Keep trusting your intuition and let go of waiting to be sure

9. Keep being kind to yourself and fellow flawed humans, and let go of your inner critic

 10. Keep checking in with your heart and higher Self, and not let your head and smaller self take control

~~~

When we are true to ourselves, we open up a new way of being in the world. Why not join me and choose one or two that really resonate with you for this New Year.

Wishing you al the best for 2018. May it be filled with love, beauty, grace and peace despite the highs and lows.

Val xo

 

Reflection – The Two People Living in You

transcend the ego

Photo Credit: Ariko Inaoka

“Two people have been living in you all of your life. One is the ego, garrulous, demanding, hysterical, and calculating; the other is the hidden spiritual being, whose still voice of wisdom you have only rarely heard or attended to.”

~ Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

I often hear others on spiritual journeys say that they are working to overcome, conquer, or destroy their egos.

But can this truly work? A part of me says not. This is because crushing, overcoming, and conquering are themselves acts of violence and therefore acts of ego.

The judging of ego as “bad” is an act of ego.

You cannot overcome ego with ego. Ego is who you’ve always thought you are, so trying to overcome who you think you are, is an assault upon yourself.

The path beyond ego is to recognize your ego self and embrace it for what it is.

Ego is necessary and important because it defines our sense of self, clarifies our boundaries and develops our personality while protecting us from disappointment, rejection, and harm.

The ego always needs validation and identification with a persona to remain nourished and to grow.

By resisting it and fighting it, you are helping it to grow. The more you resist it, the more it will show itself in a new more acceptable persona.

So, when it reveals itself with criticisms and judgments, or by showing off and caring about what others think, pause and step back. Notice and then accept it for what it is.

Don’t fuel it with more drama. If you damn it, it will resist and become stronger.

Instead, love it as you would a small child who doesn’t know any other way to be.

This is the way that ego will fade into insignificance… and your heart will fill with love and compassion for yourself and other human beings struggling right beside you.

Namaste

* Silence your Inner Critic by Saying Yes

imperfect

” Say yes to everything. Reject nothing, least of all something in yourself.”

~ Swami Prajnanpad

Say yes to yourself every day.

Acknowledge what you are feeling and what is happening in a neutral way.

“Yes, I’m nervous.”

“Yes, I am struggling.”

“Yes, there is fear.”

“Yes, I am being defensive.”

“Yes, I notice resistance. ”

“Yes, there is judgment.”

Don’t reject anything you are experiencing.

Create space for this part of you.

Your authentic self is messy and imperfect
and is yearning to be loved.

Open up to all of who you are.
Let yourself be.

To be authentic, you must acknowledge this part of your self.

Touch what is there in the moment and connect with it.
Be with it.

And you will find your inner critic starts to quieten
and light fills your heart.

Say yes to yourself every day.

 

* Taking Care

Embracing Shadow Self by Rita LLoyd

So many of us spend our time taking care of others. Our relationships have become ones of giving and supporting those closest to us.

And then we forget how to take care of ourselves.

When we think of taking care of ourselves, the inner critic tells us it is selfish and self indulgent to take care of our own needs.  It reminds us of how we want to be seen by others… as caring supportive and kind. Never selfish and self absorbed.

We see ourselves based on the roles we have played. Its easy to become chained to these supportive and caring roles of the past.

Somewhere along the way we lose touch with who we are.

The choices we make become based on the needs of others, and our own needs are buried and hidden in a stuffed aching drawer inside of us.

I came across these words that feel authentic and true.

“Self indulgence is different from self care. Self indulgence feeds the sense of being a separate self. When we become self indulgent, our life is about the little me…

Self care means that we listen to our core needs, set reasonable boundaries with others, and live in balance. It also means that we question our limiting beliefs that create suffering for ourselves and others. It means that we live in a growing integrity with a deeper truth that we are not separate from anyone. Genuine self care frees us to be more selfless.”

~ John J Prendergast from “In Touch”

We know not to listen to the voice of self indulgence. Yet we must learn to listen to the voice that counsels compassion and care for our true being.

Genuine self care brings life into balance and frees us to be more selfless.

Namaste

* Let Go and Find Yourself

” In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. It will be a permanent Self, rooted in awareness and creativity. Once you have captured this you have captured the world.”                Deepak Chopra

holding on

 Letting go:

Of every exhalation

Of the day as we fall asleep

Of our children as they grow up and leave home

Of things that no longer serve us

Of a past that weighs us down

Of relationships that no longer nurture us

Of roles that we have outgrown

Of over thinking

Of our habits and conditioning

Of “me” “I” and “mine” as we experience our connection to something more within us and around us

Life is a journey of letting go in order to find what really matters.

  •  Take a few moments to pause and reflect on all the things that you have let go of in the past…
  • The things that you are working on right now…
  • And what you might still be holding on to…

Letting go is part of the natural rhythm of life.

Trust in this and embrace it fully with an open mind and heart.

In taking these courageous steps every day we come to know our true permanent Self and move towards real freedom.

Namaste

* Ego 101

People around me are starting to ask questions about ego, what it means and how it has an impact on our spiritual journey. I was inspired to go ahead and publish my own insights , following  Trini’s post this morning asking What is Ego?. Lets get the conversation going on this big and edgy topic.

EGO

Here goes:
The term “ego” can be confusing as it has come to have different meanings. In every day conversations it is often associated with people who have grandiose ideas. When we see someone “getting too big for his boots” we tend to think that this is what ego is about. Our ego is far more than this and is very complex.
Its no wonder it can be hard to “get” it.

First of all, we all have one. The ego is our thinking mind and beliefs, as well as our image of ourselves. Ego can sometimes be referred to as “self hood” or “persona”. If you find you have a negative reaction to the word “ego” itself, then choose an other one.

These musings are from an non expert perspective, and come from my personal experience and readings from psychology, yoga and spirituality.

I call it Ego 101 and not Ego Ph.D so please take in the spirit it is intended – to enlighten and uphold the journey that we are all on to awaken to and connect to something more than our individual self.

newborn baby

When we are born, we don’t have any knowledge or consciousness of our own self as an individual human being.  We are innocent and completely vulnerable in this world.

As babies we become aware of  ourselves as a reflection of our interactions with our mother and then others. Our ego identity is born. But this identity is a reflected one. It is not our real being. We do not yet know who we truly are; we know what others think about us.

baby in mirror

As we interact more in the world, we form our beliefs and thinking about ourselves, others and the world around us. We must have this to survive. At its core is an intelligence that responds to external circumstances. We learn what hurts and what feels good, and we adapt our behavior to fit in to the world around us.

As we grow up, the more interactions and reflections we experience, the more complex our ego becomes…. and the more we believe it to be the truth about who we are.

Our ego is an accumulated phenomenon, a by-product of living with others. As human beings we have to have an ego to survive in the world. Our ego is not our enemy, its keeps us alive.

Awakening

“Awakening” or “self realization” is when we wake up to a  sense that there is something more than our individual self. That we are all somehow connected and that we are part of an expanding consciousness, spirit or universal presence.

This is when many of us find ourselves drawn to spirituality and become seekers of the truth beyond our ego and separate self. We want to connect to the essence of who we are and embrace a new way of being in the world. This way is one of interconnectivity, compassion and loving kindness. 

I believe that we have to have a strong ego in order to get to know  the truth. We cannot know the higher Self without embracing this functional part of our mind or smaller self.

First we have to know that which is not true. We have to see the untrue nature of our ego. Some refer to it as our false self vs. our true self. At this stage we are likely to reject this ego part of ourselves and judge it as “bad”. However, it is our own thinking that is creating judgments. Our ego isn’t good or bad, it just IS.

woman looking sat self

When we are ready we begin to explore this ego part of ourselves. What do I believe is “me”?  What is “mine”? What are my needs? What image of myself do I cling to? What aspects of my self do I reject? “Who am I really”?

We can only grow beyond our ego when we accept it and love it for what it is, rather than reject it and try to overcome it and push it away. As Trini says, imagine your soul is the parent and the ego, its child.

The more we judge our ego and reject it, the more it is threatened … the more we persist in not recognizing it, the more it resists. And we create an inner battle of our own making. When we try to deny it, it will raise itself to be seen in a new way…. And it may take us a while to realize that what we thought was the Truth is actually an other image of ourselves and set of beliefs that our brilliant ego has created for our survival.

The journey is from one of “being separate” to one of “interconnectivity”.

From one of  “me” to one of “we”.

From one of “small self” to one of ” higher Self”.

From one of “judgment” to one of “acceptance”.

From one of “thinking” to one of “knowing”.

From one of “fear” to one of “love”.

I have more to share about ego and its part in our spiritual journey. Looking forward to having conversations here and over the blogosphere. 🙂

Namaste

 

Love Yourself at Work and in Life

Is it time to give yourself a boost and connect with your authentic self every day?  Sometimes we need a reminder to connect with who we really are in the highs and lows of life.

I have had this list next to my desk for quite some time. It has become “wallpaper” …  like so many things we want to remind ourselves about! I thought it was time to dust it off and share with you. Val x

girl walking along road

On your journey to loving your authentic self:

1. Stop doing what you know is bad for you and start nourishing yourself. 

2. Stop chasing and start appreciating. 

3. Stop comparing yourself to others and start identifying your own gifts. 

4. Stop being good and start being true to yourself.

5. Stop setting yourself up and start making life easy for you.

6. Stop setting other people up and start under-promising.

7. Stop waiting and start trusting your intuition.

8. Stop trying to meet everyone else’s expectations and meet your own.

9. Stop trying to become somebody and just be yourself.

10. Stop having problems and start solving them.

 

Which one would you choose to have fun with this week?

Its number 7 for me!

p.p.s. Look around …. is there “wallpaper” around you that needs some attention right now?

Beginning …. to Find Your Middle Ground

Where do you find direction towards that place of contentment, peace of mind and connection? Your Middle Ground?

The first step is all about self discovery – really getting to know yourself.

Often we think of ourselves in terms of the roles we have in this life – in our families as parent, sister or spouse, or at work as an employee or professional, or in communities as a neighbor or volunteer etc. We’re so bound up with others that we miss getting to understand ourselves. We think we know ourselves, but we often only see ourselves in relation to other people.

Ask yourself,  “Who am I … without my children, my grandchildren, my spouse, my career?”….

Take time to get to know yourself and become aware of who you really are – your natural talents, core beliefs, values, needs, passions, triggers and fears. Much of what you will discover has come from those around you … yet there is so much more that is uniquely you! So freeing!

woman freeWhen we start to explore who we are, and see all aspects of ourselves,  we can become authentic in the world. No longer trying to live up to others’ expectations or playing a role. Our mask can be set aside and we become free to let our true nature shine through.

You become more grounded and confident, courageous and compassionate.

In my experience there are 2 ways to get to know yourself in this way:

Being Mindful

The first way to self discovery can come from yoga and the practice of mindfulness.  Noticing without judgment what is going on in your mind and your body, and acknowledging  it is incredibly powerful. I recall times on my yoga mat, when my left hip flexor tightens for no apparent reason. In the beginning I wanted the discomfort to go away and so I worked to stretch it out even more. Taking it to its limits in order to bring it into my idea of what it should be. Of course, I came across more resistance and more contraction instead. When I realized it needed some tender loving care and I backed off, the pain dissipated. I swear that hip of mine hears my thoughts!

Once you see and feel more clearly, you can choose to respond more skillfully and appropriately. My biggest lesson about myself in yoga is letting go of needing to control and accepting the way my body is….. and not to trust my thinking as being the truth.

Getting Curious

The second way to self discovery  is by taking  a coach approach and getting curious. Start to ask  yourself and answer these questions:

What are the best moments of my week?Woman journaling
What brings me happiness and joy?
What do I do at an excellent level?
What am I afraid of?
What beliefs, values and needs are important to me?
(Tip – Notice what makes you angry, because it is usually a belief or value that has been transgressed or an unmet need)
What do I want that I don’t have?

…. What else comes to mind about who you are and what you want?

In this place of questions and discovery, you may find it hard to access this inner part of yourself, or lots of judgments come up……. and that’s okay. It shows that there is room to grow into your true self!

This is just the beginning.

I truly enjoy connecting with those of you beginning this journey. Please reach out to me privately if you’d like a guide and supporter: