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. 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 pure consciousness, are the root cause of suffering. And when we have a negative thought, we need to bring into mind its opposite.
For me this really 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 of an inner stirring which yearns to be fully self-expressed, what you might call a purpose. Change is the one constant in life. We’re always in a process of growth. Look at nature! At no point does nature say, hey I just want to hibernate, I really don’t want to bear fruits and flowers over and over again. Can I just stay where I am.
Have compassion for yourself as you are and at the same time get excited about who you can become
So perhaps we can have compassion for ourselves where ever 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 judgment.
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 own human psychology. We have a resistance to anything we HAVE to do. We rebel against SHOULD. Knowing that then we have to trick our own mind by changing HAVE and 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 too, to let go, we have to become aware that they’re there.
When we tell ourselves, “I just want to be”, though it sounds really good, what we’re really telling ourselves is: I don’t deserve to experience the fullness, the richness of all that life has to offer. Even though it sounds like all we want to do is to love ourselves as we are, it’s not what’s really happening at the level of our subconscious.
Pressure is felt depending on how much we really accept and respect ourselves.
When we don’t love and respect ourselves, we feel the pressure of losing weight. 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.
When we love and respect ourselves, we don’t feel pressure, we feel the excitement of caring 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 possible within the context of my circumstances. Period.
It’s a matter of how we look at ourselves…
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.” The yogic scriptures, which I’m a student of, say, “Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah.” (Yoga Sutras, Chapter 1, sutra 2) Which literally means that Yoga is the method by which the thoughts that appear on our consciousness like ripples on water or waves on the ocean become still. When that happens, “Tada drashtu swarupe vashthanam,” we become established in our own essential nature.
The word Yoga here means the process by which we become fully self-aware and all aspects of our being are in harmony or congruent with each other. Our thoughts aren’t saying one thing while our actions are demonstrating something different.
The word health in Ayurveda, swastha in Sanskrit, means to be established in oneself
We are never NOT established or resting in our own being, because beingness is our essential nature. However, our own thoughts prevent us to be still enough to have a direct experience of our essential nature.
Still your thoughts, manage your mind in the same way that a stone is polished to become a diamond. When that happens we reflect the bright light of pure unadulterated, and unconditional joy and we’re able to enJOY life.
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