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If you have followed my blog conversations over the past two weeks, their content has ranged from self-sabotage to self-mastery via real-time dialogue between myself and “Sandy”. This continued instalment depicts the shift into clear seeing and then confidence that occurs when one is willing to continue their self-inquiry. For the purposes of illustrating this transformational shift, the blog is laid out in a dialogue format. It begins with a telephone call from Sandy requesting help.
Sandy: I have just recognized a life-long pattern in which I continuously self-evaluate in my head. I realize that whether the self-evaluation is positive or negative, neither is a good thing. Furthermore, it’s targeted at me and everyone and everything around me. Rather than being “in” the current experience I am having, this judgment cycle puts me “outside” looking in. My continuous judgment is a huge contributor to my level of discontent; my general dissatisfaction with life and myself. It does not allow room for contentment.
I’ve been doing it my whole life, and I don’t know how to stop it. As a hyper-vigilant child, I was always looking for things that could go wrong. Now, I am measuring everything around me. It’s exhausting.
This is what I have been trying to distract myself from by numbing it out with TV, food, etc. My hypervigilance-distraction cycle is deeply embedded in my physiology, and I don’t know what to do instead. Can you suggest something?
Helen: Since you know the pattern is embedded in your physiology, take your awareness into your body to locate where the sensation is located. Maintain your awareness on the sensation until it shifts. Then, hold your awareness on the new sensation or emotions or thoughts that arise. In this way, you can walk your awareness back, step by step, to the source of your truth … the WHY of your continuous judgment. It is important to suss out the source of your limiting behaviour because working only with the symptoms is not a long-term strategy for change.
Becoming aware of the limiting negative behaviour (the symptom) does begin to stop its occurrence over the short term. However, deepening your awareness by leaning into the source or cause begins to create stillness in the body and silence in the mind. Both capacities allow the space needed for your truth to rise from the unconscious into consciousness. When we discover our truth, the body’s cellular wisdom and the spirit’s intuitive wisdom integrate, which puts us in our realm of genius! Here is where we can wisely choose what is right for us in the moment.
… an hour passes, and I send along a follow-up note …
I just want to let you know you are encountering what yogis call the two polarities of will that create the potential for self-realization. They are practice and non-reaction.
Practice (or discipline) is the will to repeatedly align awareness to the present moment, which is the only place where our consciousness can find stillness (peace from our unhealthy habits). Sustained effort (continuous practice) is required because the forces of distraction, as you know, are strong and unrelenting. In the practice process, we are cultivating stillness or effortlessness.
Nonreaction is the will to observe experience without attachment (reaction). When we don’t “get stirred up” with likes or dislikes or ideals, we create the conditions for effortlessness. This is the willingness to let a phenomenon (sensation, emotion, thought) play itself out in front of our awareness without adding to its motion in any way (non-attachment or non-reaction). Without the stirred up reaction, all phenomenon change. Hence, the adage, this too will pass.
Food for thought and integration, eh.
Sandy: Thank you, Helen. This certainly resonates with the experience I’m having right now. And the practice tip you shared has already been helpful. Bringing my focus inside to the sensations in my body with every judgmental thought has been very helpful and the idea of continuous practice really delivers the message. Over the years I’ve read and heard so much about being present and in the moment. I thought I understood it many times, but I now realize I’m only beginning to comprehend what it means.
I’ve often been very focused on “fixing this” and then imagining everything will be better after that. I now realize that this habit is a recipe for dissatisfaction because it continuously pushes the opportunity for peace into the future. Apply this to work, money, relationships, fitness, etc. and it becomes a sure way to amplify unhappiness and dissatisfaction into depression and despair. And it’s not hard to understand now that this is exactly where the destructive cycle of distraction and self-soothing begins. A-ha!
I’ve reached a point where I know I am done searching in books or from elsewhere outside of me. What I have been searching for is already here, and now it is about practising what I already know. There is no problem to solve; just skills to develop. I am never going to think my way into inspiration.
Helen: You are right, thoughts are a by-product or a symptom. “Aha”, is not a thought process but a connection to the mystery of being. Some people want to call that state God, Creator, Source, Higher Self, Spirit, Universe. Because I am not interested in personifying this state of being, I simply refer to it as Life. We are physiologically connected to Life, to the experience of “Aha” (the mystery of being). Only by being present do we sustain that capacity and connection.
The external search for answers is a common pattern, which leads us into distraction and comparison or judgment. The internal investigation provides what we need when we need it, in that moment.
In the absence of internal pleasure, we seek pleasure from the external world by accumulating power and wealth and we use this to constantly stimulate ourselves. In other words, we become consumers and consumption ultimately comes from nature’s resources. Nature is damaged by our pleasure-seeking behaviour. This is the reason why our global environment is in danger.
The practice of Yoga and Meditation brings Awareness, Bliss and Calmness or the ABCs of life, because they affect us in such a way that our old patterns of behaviour are broken. The dormant body and brain are awakened, resulting in activation of the pleasure centres within. When pleasure and happiness are experienced from within, we don’t seek it in the external world. We take only as much as is needed from nature to live comfortably. We are not consumers anymore. As we walk this path, our fear and guilt slowly decrease or even disappear, leaving us free. In this state of natural balance, we experience the flow of our natural selves. On this ground of the natural self, we connect with nature and live in harmony with it, rather than destroying it. Pradeep Kumar