“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
― C.G. Jung
This is a continuum to my previous post about changes and new beginnings… In this post I focus on how to tune in, and why. And to what. And when.
As the year changes, it is not only the year that is left behind, it is the whole decade. What am I gonna take along with me from this decade, and what life style patterns, habits will or should I leave behind? And how can I leave them behind?
Who do I see myself being, becoming, and how can I make it happen?
What is truly important to me?
All these questions that we are pondering… What, why and how. Most of us probably know already what we’d like to change or what we’d need more in our lives, but just feel incapable of putting it into practice. What is it that we actually need, in order to bring this change to life? Sometimes we need to go away to come back. Sometimes we need to lose something in order to find it again. Maybe now it’s time to find again.
Nedra Tawwab, a therapist on Instagram (IG therapy pages = a-ma-ze-ment), gathered up 9 good questions to ponder before wrapping up the decade. I highly recommend to check these questions out even though the decade has already changed. You can find them from her post HERE with an apt hashtag; #cyclebreakers. She encourages you to grab pen and paper and write answers, with a hope for it to lead to increased self-awareness on important aspects of life. It’s almost like acupuncture for mind. Answering to clear questions, reflecting your mind on paper, without trying to control the flow of thoughts and instead, just letting yourself to experience the freedom to write what you feel without judgement. It’s quite amazing what can happen. It can really help you receive clarity for your mind and therefore, your life.
Act of reflecting is like an inner journey that will take you on a roam through the wilderness of one’s mind and self, if you are willing to open up. To me, it meant about finding a way to stop and give myself a break. To stop and listen before acting, before following blindly my ego and before losing myself to the kind of habits that are not really working for me or my good in any way. But… I think it’s all about realising that you can actually take a step back, take some mental space before acting. The closer I get to myself by practicing self-awareness (mindfulness), the closer I get to the option of choosing. And this is huge.
I feel much calmer, as I now have a choice. I can choose to stop before I act according to my habits, and this starts from first noticing what I’m sensing in my body (hightened body-awareness) and then, listening to what kind of thoughts are arising in my mind, sensing what my body would want me to do, and becoming aware to what kind of thought patterns I have in these situations. Just stopping to listen, understanding that I am not my thoughts nor my cravings, and that I can decide.
Of course, we all fall from our tracks once in a while and that’s perfectly okay, it’s part of the progress. It’s not about being perfect and living perfectly, but rather learning to act from a place of awareness, learning to stop when it is good to stop, all by listening and therefore honoring yourself, your body and your mind. It is a progress, a practice. And I guess this rule is quite universal, to all situations if wishing to take steps towards more “me-like” life. It’s saying “I can decide” and saying “I will honor myself, my body, my mind, my truth, unapologetically“. No more walking according to other people’s rules. We are the creators of our lives. So what do you want?
So how can we (try to) stay on the track and not lose ourselves completely along the way? In ancient Tantric text Taittiriya Upanishad they talk about layers of being, as if a human was an onion and the layers start from the outermost skin, a kosha. This outermost layer is the first one to be peeled, in order to reach any other layers of being, such as the energy body, mental body, wisdom body and finally, bliss body. But let’s not go all the way there, not in this post anyway… We’re just gonna stay in the first layer this time. This first layer of being is basically entered by focusing on tapping into the body awareness, as after I know where I am with my body (what my body is telling me, how does it feel, what sensations are coming up), I can then from there find a way to tap into my mind, in that very moment, and therefore, find answers. Your body is much wiser than you think it is. Just need to listen, and keep on returning to the source of awareness. Because if you’re making your decisions from a place of non-awareness, imbalance or numbness, for example, how can they be good or right decisions then?
“We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the buy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything
Every moment, we have an opportunity to choose again consciously the option that is right for you. Whether it is about breaking some unserving habits or cravings, or some thought patterns, it’s all the same. It’s about learning to honor your self, your needs and your desires, caring about yourself, just like you’d care for your loved ones. Your body is your temple, as simple as that. (And such a cliche, but so true.)
Okay. But. What if I’m just feeling imbalanced, not really knowing why I’m feeling like this? I’m just not completely here, but rather like a boat without sails. What to do? How to know which direction to take? It’s so easy to get lost in the fog and numb whatever feelings, go where the cravings take you to. But the difference is the after-feeling you get. When you listen to yourself and act accordingly, your body and mind will thank you with a feeling of balance, peace, clarity, lightness, meaningfulness, connection, inner power, even love. So, what is the secret?
Couple of months ago I wrote down a sentence on a small piece of paper:
“Letting only one of the aspects of life rule cannot simply lead to a fulfilling life. You are a whole, a totality, of different aspects. Only this wholeness, all parts together, can define you; fulfil you.”
Now this might sound completely normal to you but WOW what an epiphany it was to me! I had tried to live only according to one aspect, or maybe two, not realising that in order for me to feel like I was living truly a fulfilling life, I really needed to tap into the other aspects of life as well. So that’s what I did.
After writing this sentence I drew a picture of a circle with four parts, the “aspects”, out of complete mind-flow / mind-blow. I realised that the imbalance I had experienced, and the imbalance I was in in that moment of life and time, was because I identified and mirrored, myself only through one aspect, instead of being able to see the whole picture. It’s like being the horse with the eyepads, the blinders, you know?
I knew something was lacking as my vision was so narrow and I felt anxiety in it, but just didn’t know what to do. I was so focused only on one aspect that I lost myself to it. I was just very much off track with myself and my life, giving way too much energy on wrong things, and on wrong people. Living life that wasn’t actually according to my values, or to my desires. Whatever the motivation was, it wasn’t from my deep within. I think this is more common than we even realise in today’s world, whether we lose ourselves to our work or when we spend our time with people with whom we don’t feel like we actually belong or connect with. You just end up being, sailing, without place or purpose, driving from day to day, ending up deeper into the fog. Surviving. Forgetting yourself and your worth in all of it. Forgetting that you actually can choose who you let in your life and what you do with your life, how you live your every day life. When the focus is on money or whatever, we lose the touch to the reality of our selves.
Well, after understanding the totality of the different aspects of life and becoming aware of few of the aspects, it realised I had to reset my priorities, according to the big picture. It was like a map I drew for myself, in order to find balance in life. And it has worked. (I’m sure we all have a little bit different focus, but I do have a good feeling about this epiphany, and that’s why I’m sharing it with you today.) 🙂
The four aspects I discovered, which are the ones to make my life feel more whole (and hopefully yours’ too) are the following:
- Sense of belonging and love.
The feeling that you are part of something. Let it be a community or having connection with someone special, feeling of being loved and honored as you are, feeling of being truly seen and heard. Finding a deep connection with someone or something, a person or nature, and feeling that you belong. Being in a good place with good people. That’s what I need, and I’m sure that’s what we all yearn for, right? Finding our pack, our tribe, our people, the ones with whom we can feel safe, the ones we can trust, is so valuable. The ones are truly the lucky ones, who have found the place to belong, a home. We all yearn for love and to be loved. We humans are hardwired for connection, authentic belonging, and love. Every single one of us.
“Of this, I am actually certain. After collecting thousands of stories, I’m willing to call this a fact: A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all women, men, and children. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Where do you receive love? Maybe from your partner, your family, pets or from the source within yourself. Do you feel loved? Do you feel that you have people with whom you truly, authentically can connect with? This is with the people who just let you be who you are, let you live as you wish, let you take time to grow, find yourself, be lost, to be all that you are. This is the people who don’t walk away when things get a little rough. This is the home some people make us feel, home where we belong. But ohh, how much it takes courage to put down your boundaries and be vulnerable in front of someone. That’s true bravery, if you ask me! And not so coincidentally, that’s the only path to connection and belonging, to love.
“So long as we keep aspects of ourselves hidden from view because we believe only an edited or presentational version of who we are will be accepted by others, we are depriving ourselves of belonging. But also—and here’s the piece that takes some real practice to see—depriving others of belonging with us.” ― Toko-pa Turner, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home
But only having the pack is not enough. There is more to come. What is having a pack if you don’t belong to yourself first?
- Connection to the self.
“My friend… care for your psyche… know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves.” ― Socrates
Being aware of who I am at my core, and creating my own space and connecting to myself. Honoring myself and my boundaries. Listening to my heart, my needs, my hopes, my desires and my intuition, the famous ‘gut’ feeling. Being honest to myself, to reflect. Nurturing myself, taking care of myself (as no one else will do it for you).
For me, practicing yoga and meditation, doing arts, being creative or for example going ourdoors to the nature help me always to return back to myself and then, once again, connect. Reflective writing helps me to connect to my thoughts and deepest parts of my mind, and usually by writing things down I also get epiphanies about myself and my life, as the fog begins to fade away and my mind to become more clear.
Without connecting to my self, I cannot find connection with anyone else either. Without connecting to myself, I cannot make the kind of decisions I need to be made in order to live a fulfilling life. Yoga word itself means union, to reunite, to connect, and when practicing yoga it’s almost like falling back to the state of universal interconnectedness and peace. It’s beautiful. I receive the same feeling when I’m in the wilderness, as part of the nature, connecting, letting the surroundings mirror me my inmost states through deeeeep connection and presence. Boy, that’s magic… The pure presence, the raw beauty of connection.
“A man must find time for himself. Time is what we spend our lives with. If we are not careful we find others spending it for us. . . . It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, ‘Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?’ . . . If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one’s time—the stuff of life.” ― Carl Sandburg
So… You’ve got your pack and connection to yourself. How about finding ways to break old boundaries, expand, slowly finding your way towards a life that is more you-like? Sounds quite dreamy, doesn’t it? But it requires effort, it always does. (And hard-core listening in order to discover, and courage to bring it to life.)
- Letting self-expression free you.
“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” ― Pablo Picasso
Finding your own way to express yourself, your creativity, your essence and sensing importance and meaning in one’s work or hobby, or life in general. Following your own path and then bringing the introspection into life, through whichever way of expression it may be. Making art. Creating, bringing something into life. Using physical movement, embodying the flow. Letting yourself feel and be all that you are. Using your mind, your intelligence, your consciousness to find new levels of being and new levels of showing up. Learning, growing. Expanding your world and your knowledge. The more you’re growing the more you’re able to let go of the inner constrains, to find new ways of being and expressing your inner world more freely, to open up. Self-expression is freedom. This again requires you to listen to yourself, your mind, your body, and following bravely it to wherever it may take you.
“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.”
― Rita Mae Brown
Imagine if we’d all just feel free with our self-expression? We’d feel free to dance. We’d feel free to sing. We’d feel free to paint, and not worry about it looking nothing like we wanted or imagined it to. We’d express just for the pure enjoyment of self-expression, just for the pure enjoyment of colors, of creation. Letting slowly and gently go of self-judgement as well as fear of outer judgement. Who defines you? Who frees you?
Writing poems that don’t rhyme or even make sense. (My favorite type of poems, with empty space for empty mind, for silence.) Letting the words flow. You could be an author, you could be a poet. You could be a singer, a dancer, a painter, if you’d want to. In fact, if you sense that you are it, but just haven’t been able to bring it into life yet, then it means that you really are it, already.
So, what’s holding you back? Do you feel that you have enough ways and opportunities, or courage, to express yourself? Do you really need to know techniques first, or to be fit in other ways? What type of self-expression would you like to try?
“Human creativity is our ability to move back and forth between the realms of “what is” and “what could be.” We are even wired for it. When we collaborate, work, strategize, imagine, or just hang out with one or more other people, our bodies and minds benefit. If we participate in an activity that involves our distinctly human capacity to imagine, create, or enjoy wondrous imagery, sound, sensations, and passions, like music, theater, song, drawing, poetry, prose, painting, carpentry, cooking a great dinner, for example, it stimulates cognitive and physiological processes bolstering our creative capacities.” -The Cut
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ―Martha Graham
So open up. Express. Be what you already are. Let yourself become what you want to become.
Now you’ve got your pack, your connection to your truth, ways and freedom to express your truth,… what else could there be? To me, this following is one of the most significant one. It’s tapping into the movement of life. Cycles come and go, and it’s all about choosing how you take it all in and what you make out of it. It’s all about fighting less and floating more. It’s the f l o w.
- Find flow.
Whether you call it the drift, the flow, the current, the prana, the energy, the movement, the path, it’s all the same. In my little note, I wrote the following phrases under the topic of flow:
“the importance of movement”
“letting yourself to flow with the current”
“awakening the force of prana”
Every day, activating this movement, this energy, strenghtening this connection between body and soul, between the physical and mental. Finding strenght thought action. Finding flexibility through movement. Finding acceptance through letting go. Finding connection through letting in. Finding presence and peace through letting be.
One of my true favorite songs is Cat Stevens’ Sitting, a song where he ponders about life and acceptance, the flow of life, the cycles, the trust you ought to have in the process, the trust for… well, life. We, of course, create our own destinies, but we have no control over what will happen, what will come, or who will come into our lives. We just are, and the only things we can do is to live well, honoring ourselves and treat others well, and then see where we end up. And to me, that’s the greatest part of life. You never know. But somehow, you always end up to a better place. This is how Cat sings:
Oh I’m on my way, I know I am
Somewhere not so far from here
All I know is all I feel right now
I feel the power growing in my hair
Oh life is like a maze of doors
And they all open from the side you’re on
Just keep on pushing hard boy, try as you may
You’re going to wind up where you started from
You’re going to wind up where you started from
It’s about trusting the process, trusting your instinct and that you are going somewhere, forward, whether you felt it or not. Taking the chances when they come, letting life come as it comes. Acceptance brings peace. Peace brings balance. Balance brings happiness. Happiness brings gratitude. Gratitude brings joy.
Just like Nessi Gomes sings in her Long Way Home, it’s all there… we just need to let it in. Let life happen. Listen, and honor, do whatever is needed. Energise through movement, restore through stillness. Activate parasympathetic nervous system through deeeep belly breaths. Help our darkness to turn to light and tension to be released. Opening our hearts by opening our bodies. Using the movement.
Awakening our inner fire, the inner power, through physical activation, through breathwork, through yoga, or through whichever physical activity that requires you to stay focused and trust your body’s strenght and resilience. Awakening different sides of ourselves, working with different forces of life.
Find flow and flowing through yin to yang, yang to yin. Strong to soft. Powerful to gentle. Letting yourself be guided, finding the flow in life. Letting the clouds come and let them go. Trusting the process. Dancing along. Feeling good. Taking care of your wellbeing, practicing the balance.
As they say in Taoism, the key is not to paddle against the current, but to let it take you. To not grasping but rather, letting go and letting be. Letting the life to happen, the flow to take you towards your own destiny, your own path, your own meaning. Letting the flow to carry you, through your daily life. Taking in life’s magic as it comes, in any form as it chooses. Opening the rivers in our bodies and minds for the flow to run freely, through practices such as yoga, or breathwork, or making art. Or through any similar-minded practice, it can be anything. Flow can happen anywhere, and in fact, it is everywhere. In every action, in every moment. You can embody this flow, in fact, you are the embodiment of this flow.
Letting yourself grow with and from life’s momentums, and all the people we encounter. Our surroundings are our arena, our mirror. You are all that you think you are. It’s all about tuning in. Finding what’s missing, finding what you yearn for. Letting yourself receive what you need, receive what comes, remembering the brain-structure changing practice of gratitude, and giving yourself the chance to go where the life, the flow, takes you. It’ll all work out. I know it will. One way or another. Let this thought pamper you, your mind. You’re free to flow, free to try, free to take in what life offers you.
Connection to others, connection to self. Gently practicing self-expression to lose the inner constrains, letting go of constant control of life, finding joy in the moment that is and meaning in the life situation you are in, right now. Finding the greatest teachers from around you. Finding yourself from right here. And letting the flow, life, take you. Building the foundation of trust, using all these aspects to bring you sense of belonging, home, power, meaning. Love. Wholeness. Balance. Peace. Joy. Happiness.
This post was about tuning in… and I got way deeper than what I was supposed to. But maybe it’s sometimes okay. (Or every time.) To me, the easiest way to find home, to myself, is by tuning in. Here’s my advice, or should I say, a gentle reminder of how to return back to what is, to find peace:
To tune in with myself, to find myself, it always requires a state of putting the breaks down, to slow down the tempo of life, to stop. Now this can be the hardest part of the whole practice, in a world so busy and chaotic. But let’s try.
First, I can try to find my surroundings. Tap into what is around you, what do you hear, see, feel. Now, close your eyes. What do you sense? How does your surroundings feel like? Let all sensations be, voices, feelings, just let them be as they are, just focus on how it feels in your body, rather than what does it make you think. Tapping into my surroundings is very easy for example when I’m outside in nature’s silence, or in my bed before or after sleeping.
After rising the state of awareness towards the surroundings, I can try rising the awareness towards my body. How does my body feel like, right in this moment? Does it have something to tell me?
From here, I can try to find out what is it that my body needs, right now. I keep my eyes closed and try to scan my body, focusing on one part at once, being curious about what is happening. I take deep breath in, letting the spine grow tall, and with deep exhale I ground myself a bit more. I’m here for a moment. I feel the breath flowing, bringing life into my body. It’s good to bere, just now. There is no other place to go to, I can just be. And I let the breath run through me. I let myself be breathed.
Slowly, I can try to tune into my mind. What is it that I need right in this moment? I will try adjectives, words. Physical activation..? Relaxation..? Connection..? More self-expression..? Something else..? Nutritious food..? Sensations, maybe a nostalgic smell or gentle, warm touch..? Presence..? Let words, or sensations, images, voices, visions be awakened. Let yourself receive a message from your body. If nothing comes up, thats alright as well. The key here is to receive, what is. Even nothingness.
But maybe you realise something, get an epiphany. Or maybe you just found a way to return back to this present moment, into your body, and now you can enjoy feeling more grounded and balanced, more at peace, more at harmony. Maybe you realise that you’ve felt sluggish and heavy for a while now, and that you’d like to release this energy, find space in within. And that’s great – just be kind and gentle when receiving these reflections. It might just be that you just now took the first fresh breath of air in a long time. And that’s okay, too. Maybe this is you returning. Maybe this is you, coming home. Or maybe you just feel more relaxed now, that is okay too.
Maybe you will find more lightness in your life from now on, with the practice of self-listening and mindfulness. Maybe you can feel a sense of gratitude arising, for having yourself here present, with you.
It does feel good to be back, doesn’t it? (and just imagine, this is what you always carry with you, to every place and every time of your life. This is you.)
Sometimes it feels difficult or close to impossible to connect to your self and presence, and in the beginning it might feel like you will never get there. But you will, trust me. There are so many ways to help you to tune in, you can for example use music that suits your mood, or go for a walk in the nature (the wilder the better), or read books that stimulate your mind and rise the self-awareness. Sometimes I need social interaction first to tune in with myself, sometimes physical movement to return to my body, and then again sometimes the only thing I need is complete stillness and silence to tune in.
In yoga, the physical movement (asana work) has only one goal, and that goal is to sit, to meditate. We move in order to find this balance, this presence. It is easier to tune in into the body when the energy is properly and physically flowing after physical activation, and therefore it makes it easier to tap into our bodily sensations and from there, slowly tap into the simplicity of being, the non-doing, the pure presence. To the “letting-be” state. The “all is alright right now” state. The “I’m here” state. The “phew, I’m tired but damn it feels good just to be still right now” state.
From here, from having a deep connection to yourself, you quite naturally can find a state of abudance, a place of harmony. And when you feel harmonious, when you bring this presence to your surroundings and to your life and relationships, they will see it and it will relax them, offering them an opportunity also to tap into the peaceful state of being. It’s quite amazing. And when we find this inner source and start acting from a place of abudance and acceptance, well, then the world is your oyster!
Wooot this is probably the longest writing I’ve ever written… Most writers would probably break this into parts but I cannot break it, it is whole now as it is. And I truly hope you found some insights and enjoyed this, enjoyed the time with yourself, reflecting. Maybe you feel now that this is truly the beginning of something new. Who knows. We shall see, where this life takes us to…!
Have a beautiful day!