Our thoughts can be our greatest enemies.
“I feel like, just for a while, I’d like to stop “working” on myself. For once, I’d like to enjoy my life, my weight, my relationships and my finances exactly as they are. There’s a constant pressure to “improve”, when can we ever rest in our own beings?”
I recently read this message from one of my subscribers and I was very moved by it. It struck a chord in me. How many times have I heard those words to myself… how many times have I heard my clients and girlfriends say them…
I asked myself these questions:
What does “enjoying life” really mean? Why aren’t we satisfied with how our weight, relationships and finances are? And where does that “pressure” to improve come from? What does it really mean to “rest in our own being.”?
It’s been a long time since I contemplated those questions and I’m due for another deep insightful look. Because they are essential questions to ask ourselves on our human journey, especially as women. I think that women are deeply spiritual.
We naturally turn inward and are connected to our inner spirit. So when we compromise our truth we’re most likely to feel discomfort. Discomfort, unease are the ways our spirit tries to tell us something is amiss. I’ve also found that the questions we ask ourselves and the existential challenges we experience as women are unique to us.
You are perfect, whole and complete.
I hope that as I share my answers in this blog the writer of these sentences whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet can see what I see when I look at and listen to her: that she’s truly an amazing mother, an incredible companion to her husband and a beautiful woman inside and out. And I hope that you might feel this way too about yourself.
Question #1: What does enjoying life really mean?
This is what I found to be true, enjoying life has nothing to do with what we do, and what we have, or what we don’t do or have. But it has everything to do with what we think. In other words whether we’re able to enjoy life or not has to do with the thoughts we entertain in our own minds. Especially the thoughts about ourselves.
I’ve worked with both men and women as a massage therapist, a yoga teacher and a holistic health counselor and this is what I’ve found. In general women, myself included, are more self-critical than men. When I became aware of this I wondered why. In my own mind I explain it as centuries of conditioning in a mostly patriarchal society and world. Knowingly or unknowingly we carry within us the program that there’s something wrong with us, that we’re not enough. We deal with this constant self-judgmental chatter almost without solace.
You’re not who you THINK you are
Eckart Tolle writes, “Most people are so completely identified with the voice in the head—the incessant stream of involuntary and compulsive thinking and the emotions that accompany it—that we may describe them as being possessed by their mind. As long as you are completely unaware of this, you take the thinker to be who you are.”
How we perceive ourselves, too fat, too exhausted, too lazy, etc. shapes our experience of life and whether we’re able to enjoy it or not.
The great late Louise Hay, wrote in her seminal book You Can Heal Your Life, “The only thing we are ever dealing with is a thought and a thought can be changed. No matter what the problem is, our experiences are just outer effects of inner thoughts. Even self-hatred is only hating a thought you have about yourself.”
So first, we want to become aware of our thoughts. Second, it is essential that we know for sure that we are NOT our thoughts. Third, have a different thought.
When you have a negative thought bring to mind its opposite
This sounds so simple yet it’s so difficult. 2500 years ago in a classical text of Yoga called the Yoga Sutras, the sage Patanjali wrote that thoughts or vrittis in Sanskrit, literally the ripples upon our consciousness, are the root cause of suffering. And when we have a negative thought, we need to bring into mind its opposite. Negative thinking is an inability to see our innate light, love and perfection. We don’t eradicate negative thinking by dwelling on it, but rather by reaching for what connects us to Light and Love.
For me this journey of changing my thoughts started in 2009 when I had an awakening experience I share in this video.
Question #2: Why aren’t we satisfied with the way things are, our weight, our relationships, our finances, etc.?
I’ve often experienced dissatisfaction with my life no matter what I may have accomplished.
And on one side I think again that’s because as women we’re especially hard on ourselves. And we experience a lot of pressure from society: be sexy but not a slut, look good but take care of our family first, work to be considered equal but also raise a family, do hard work but make it look effortless and never sweat, etc.
However, I also believe that more often than not, we experience dissatisfaction because we’re stuck in the self-critical ego and unable to see our god-given gifts and feel gratitude for them. That doesn’t mean that we can’t strive for more, but this striving has to come from a place of joy and fulfillment that only an attitude of gratitude can give us.
Have gratitude for yourself as you are and at the same time get excited about who you can become
So perhaps we can have gratitude for ourselves wherever and however we are in the present moment. And at the same time we can get excited about getting healthier, feeling lighter, or being able to have more wealth so we can give more and support the causes we strongly believe in. One doesn’t negate the other. And here again it’s a matter of dropping the self- judgment.
Self-judgment only sees right and wrong, good and bad, likes and dislikes. What would happen if we dropped the judgment? FREEDOM would happen.
Question #3: Where does the pressure to improve come from?
There are both an inner (self-judgment, dreams and goals) and outer (societal ideals) pressure. But from my perspective, the problem is NOT with improving, the “problem” is with our self-judgment. For most women, improving means going from a state of lack to a state of fullness. It’s vital that we shift this mindset and recognize that improving means growing and that growing is inevitable. We grow from a little girl to a teenager, from a teenager to an adult, from an adult to a wise woman. Does that mean that something was wrong with the little girl? Of course not! If we could have a paradigm shift, then we would shift from should to want.
I want to feel healthier and lighter. I want to experience abundance in all its forms.
But then you may tell me, Laure, I want all these things, and yet I can’t bring myself to do what it takes.
Consciously let go of the inner de-motivators
Many years ago I trained in a technique called the Sedona Method, which is a method to develop the skill to emotionally release limiting beliefs and negative emotions. The Method is a tool that frees you to have, be or do whatever you will or desire by showing you how to let go of whatever is inside of you that says you can’t have it, shouldn’t have it or don’t deserve it… your inner de-motivators.
Here, in order to let go, we have to become aware that they’re there.
When we tell ourselves, “I just want to be”, what we’re really saying is: I can’t or I don’t have the motivation, the courage, the energy, etc. to manifest what I want and deserve.
Pressure is felt depending on how much we really understand and love ourselves.
I hear many women say that they want to lose the weight because of vanity. Which is another way of saying, I really don’t want to lose weight, but society, culture, family, friends, colleagues, the voice in my head, are pressuring me to lose weight so I can look a certain way.
In my experience and observation, when we truly understand and love ourselves, what we feel is not “pressure” but the desire to care for this body, mind and spirit. We then are able to say: I want to care for the temple of my soul, in the best and most intelligent way I possibly can. Period.
Question #4: What does it mean to rest in our own being?
Who is the beingness we wish to rest in? Do we really know? The Christian scriptures say, “Be still and know that I am God.”
In Yoga we are taught that when we still the thoughts that appear on our consciousness, “Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah.” (Yoga Sutras, Chapter 1, sutra 2) Then, “Tada drashtu swarupe vashthanam,” (Yoga Sutras, Chapter 1 sutra 3) we become established in our own essential nature.
In my understanding as a student of both, to rest in our own being, is to be in the presence of the divine who is our essential nature.
However, our own thoughts prevent us to be still enough to have a direct experience of our essential nature.
In conclusion, we have to make an effort to consciously maintain our connection to our essential nature by managing our thoughts. When that happens we reflect the bright light of pure unadulterated, unconditional joy and love and we’re able to enJOY life.
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