Welcome to this week's addition of Joy Tip Wednesday where we let ourselves run free as the wild souls we are. Oh, hello adulthood. Expectations. Societal pressures. Norms. I know you've been here for a long time. I know I've seen you around for several decades now. But somehow lately I've been getting acquainted with you like never before. How you squeeze and mold each of us over time. Sometimes support us. Sometimes pull us further away from the core of who we essentially are.
Here's what I believe. I believe each of us are composed of irony. An irony of both absolute uniqueness, never to be created again the same, and similarity with a Great Intelligence behind it all as the energy pulsating through every ounce of our very being. Our uniqueness, the individual person that we are, is our greatest gift. But also our hardest gift to stay true to and share with the world.
Inherent in society are pressures to conform one way or another. Ideas and expectations about what certain roles, labels, and background elements should produce. And I've come to believe that perhaps our most radical revolution we ALL are called to show up for, is the role of playing ourselves, no...matter...what.
For me, sometimes that's easier said than done. I reflected on this earlier this week on the blog about how I kept trying to cage the "free bird" nature of myself for the sake of companionship...partnership. And how it inevitably did not go so well and has never, ever, worked. Nor will it ever.
What happens when you push the very essence of who you are deep down inside? It screams out to you. It calls out through illness in the body. Through aches and pains. Through headaches. Through immune deficiencies. It calls out through emotional outbursts you cannot explain. It calls out by slowing your system down to listen through fatigue. My experience is that the very core of who we are, when we stuff it deep down inside, shows itself to us whether we want it to or not. We cannot force ourselves to be something other than ourselves. And when we do...we suffer.
I should know because for years I suffered from endless illnesses. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was my body serving as the messenger of my soul telling me just how out of alignment I was with the very core of who I was. After moving to a new city, starting a bureaucratic job, and being told along the way what I should and shouldn't do according to the many roles I juggled in my life I lost myself along the way. How many 20, 30, 40, 50, even 60's something do I know that are asking the fundamental question..."who am I" right now? Countless numbers of people. In some ways I think we are experiencing an epidemic of consciousness. We've all forgotten who we are. The best part of this, is that when you forget, and you get curious, perhaps you meet yourself TRULY for the first time. And that, is perhaps the most magical experience on Earth.
For this week, I want to invite us to remember who we are. To spend time reflecting on the irony of our being. Our unique wild, untamed nature underneath, and the universal creative energy flowing through all creation everywhere. Perhaps our most whole way of being, is dancing the dance of this irony. So here's the practice:
- Take 20 minutes and have an honest reflection with yourself. Perhaps it is posing a question out to the Universe and seeing what comes back by sitting silently in meditation. Or journaling in your notebook in an uncensored way. Or painting. Something, anything, that connects you with your center and looks at the question: where am I not honoring my unique self? Are there situations where you are compromising yourself for the "sake of others?" Scared to reveal your beauty inside for fear that you will be misunderstood? Judged?
- Identify one action step you can take this week to practice exercising courage to honor your truest self. For me, this started with small steps like wearing the crazy print yoga pants I wanted to wear that felt most true to who I am. Allowing myself to wear metallic green eyeliner. Having honest, vulnerable conversations by saying what's not being said to clear the air. Asking for what I needed. Starting my blog and pouring out my heart each week. Start small, be committed, then just do it. No matter what.
- Take one step and then decide another. Choose one that's a little more out of your comfort zone than the first step. Don't choose your "go to" actions that you're known to do. For example, if you love to take photos instead of sharing it with just your best friend, decide to post your photo on your social media account for others to see. Or commit to sharing a photo a week with a wider circle of friends. Key word is courage. And in courage you must walk through discomfort.
- See the humanity in others. This is where the other side of our being comes in. Can you, in the moments when you're finding it challenging, see the very same creative life force that is in you in the eyes of another? Of a stranger who cut in line? Of your partner when they are frustrated with you? Of your co-worker when they are taking over your meeting? I find that it is both the strong connection with my uniqueness, standing in that part of my being fully, AND seeing the universal essential essence underneath it all that strips us bare to the same source that supports me to both exercise compassion and take a stand for my needs. To be both courageous enough to speak my truth and empathetic enough to listen.
This takes practice. Trust me. And it asks us to show up every day, every hour, every minute to this. Some moments will be easy. Other moments will be challenging. But in the end, I think it's perhaps our most worthy practice. And it is the foundation of what makes people warriors...inspirational people who do amazing things just simply by being in this life.
I'll leave you with this amazing quote I read this week from Swami Satchidananda. I read from one of his books every morning and this excerpt from one of his writing struck a chord: