All of us can relate to having a cycle of thought that has become so settled in, that it sounds more to us, like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoon than any logical expression of words. For some reason or other, we each have an area of our life where our mini-me tags along, dressed in a black cape and eye mask, leaping in and out of our thought patterns as if it’s welcome. This tiny mini-me packs a punch; bringing with it, a shame that can feel debilitating and overwhelming. This mini-me seems to think it’s welcome to stride along side us whenever we put our best efforts forward. It waits patiently by our side, ready to whisper degrading words when our best efforts are met with silence, disapproval, or rejection from an Other. The one thing this mini-me knows how to do, is undermine us. Some of us are stubborn enough to pick ourselves up again, only to wait again for approval from an Other, then feel the shame again. It’s a cycle that we can really get caught up in: “This is what I have to offer, do you approve of me, do you accept me, will I be secure?”, It’s a terrible cycle to be trapped in and no one deserves to be there.
Our deepest feelings and our insecurities are like two sides of a coin, this cycle either destroys us or brings us to our greatest dreams. We equate not only our own value as a human being in this “acceptance” we seek, but also our very sense of security. It really comes down to the question of: “Will this make me secure?” (whether realistic or not). Then, if we’re not accepted, our security feels threatened.
Though I don’t believe there is one pat answer for everyone on how to overcome this, I do believe that a consistent pursuit of a new self belief means we’re far likelier to gain freedom from it’s snare. The culprit keeping us from change is really about unwillingness. Other than maintaining resolve, “unwillingness” is the biggest hurdle to not only overcome, but to identify. Panic is usually how we address the unknown that change puts in front of us. How do we turn panic into courage?
But before Compassion, is the Breath.
Once we know that we’re willing to break this cycle, we usually need to find a tool that will help us when things get tough (meaning, we get uncomfortable). The following may seem trite, but usually Life’s answers are far simpler than we give them credit for:
Breath. Not only does it effectively calm us, it gives us that sense of control when we’re moving into unknown experiences (even if they’re internal emotional ones). Breathing is essential for grounding us into the now. Don’t underestimate this step of breaking the cycle. Choosing to breathe through an automatic response, rather than act from it is change in itself. It can be enough, it can be all we ever need to do when the nerves of change kick in. So, hoping to rush through the breathing part so you can move to next steps to overcome the cycle is ineffective.
Breathing brings us from neurosis and anxiety to the firmer footing of the here and now. That footing creates a sense of security. And it’s our job to gradually give more credit to that security within our own thinking (this is where the seed of Compassion is beginning to grow, whether the mini-me likes it or not). Breathing doesn’t change circumstances like magic, but it changes our moment from being one of overwhelm, to one of calm, and this is what matters. Being calmed by our use of the breath brings us back to our own reality and away from the clinging fantasy of, “pretty please?”. Breath grounds us in to realizing that we are ok, and into a rational understanding of what really matters, whether anything outside of our own self ever changes. It brings us back to proper assessment of our next steps. This indicates that when we’re jumping off the horrific fantasy wagon of “will you accept me?”, it’s our own reality that really matters.
The breath reminds us of where we are, and attunes us to the intelligence of hearing our own heart and our own voice. The still and the calm of the moment shows us what really matters. Once we recognize the value of stillness, we’ll value the breath. Our inner senses let us know that we are secure. Our inner senses let us know that an Other won’t provide that. This is the foundation of breaking the cycle. Mini-me won’t have his tiny legs to stand on and he might actually need to begin whispering words worth listening to.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
“The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one which makes you think.”~Harper Lee
Similarly (to my chagrin), a teacher of mine once said, in reference to the Soulful realm, “They’re not here to lead you by the nose, if you’re an old soul, they’ll want you to figure it out”. Argh, who wants to hear that when you just want the instruction manual for figuring out life’s problems. But, realistically, I would agree. I think, that if you teach, and it is in a way that a person can access their own innate knowing of truth, that is the only teaching of value.
In my experience, if we want the “instruction manual” for life, we’re better off to allow those “problem” aspects of ourselves, to be alive. That way they don’t act out a kicking screaming rebellion, and we come to learn that they really aren’t so problematic. If this aspect is there, why not give it space, give it the time it needs for us to hear it and understand it. In this way, our inner battles can cohabitate. Instead of going crazy trying to avoid it, deciding to know it, gives this “problem” aspect room to breathe and move toward functioning healthily.
It’s by Grace that we know anything of our deeper existence. But that tide that makes us float on the whims of free will is something we can learn to cherish. Learning to read and understand that tide will refine our free will to work for us rather than against us. But we need to provide the environment for our understanding to come, simply through our willingness. There is no guidebook for that, no compass to pull from our pocket, to lead the way. What is more likely is that we have a candle. Often, we need to light that candle in the dark of night, seeing only within the sphere of light that lands on the map that we were born with. It’s us who holds that map, and we move the candle to illuminate more of the map. That candle, which may have dripped down to a nub from having been lit so many times before.
But it’s in those times, that feel as still and black as standing in the dark of the Mongolian desert on a moonless night, that we’re open to hearing the strike of the match. It’s necessary to know the significance of the match that lights the candle. In our lives it can be anything, nature, the sight of an animal, a friend or parent….it’s only then, at these times of quiet, when we’re yearning for a roadmap the most, that we begin to respect the match that lights the candle. Once the candle is lit, the knowledge is our own. From here it’s our decision what to do with the light, and to apply what we’ve already come to understand and know of it. No one can do that for us. With that candle lit, we can look up from the map and into the darkness. It’s wild out there, but we’re given a new courage with the tiny light from our candle; we grow a willingness to search the darkness, eyes wide.
Suddenly, you know you can do this, you know it’s in you and you know it’s out there for you. Find it. Walk it. Become it. Have that wonder in your eyes, your face, your heart and let that be from where you listen, this will be what guides you. Then, when you tumble into the narrow confines of the darkness of “problems”, know again it is not about the actual darkness but about your willingness to hear the strike of the match that lights the candle.
"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." ~Roald Dahl
--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com