I’ve always been, since I was a child, someone who is very tapped into my soul.
”Soul” is one of those slippery terms that varies too much based on the person, so I’ll define it as I understand it. I can’t claim to know what the soul is made of, its exact properties, nor exactly how it operates.
But I have always had a strong awareness (and sense) of a part of me that I would call simply an awareness in itself. It does have its own attributes — it is ME, in the deepest sense. But it is something that remains constant while the rest of my human character does not.
As humans, we define ourselves by humanly things: genetics, various factors in the environment, values, likes, dislikes, and so on. The soul is outside of this. It is a constant presence — an essence — and many describe the soul as having more of an “observer” role throughout our Earthly journeys.
Being aware of my soul to the degree I am today often makes me feel like I am simultaneously in two worlds.
All of this generally sounds like a positive thing, and it is. But now that I have been through multiple types of consciousness-breakthroughs as well as various types of spiritual experiences that came to me rather spontaneously, I’ve become increasingly able to differentiate between the “soul” part of me and the “human character” part of me.
The Challenges of Increasing Awareness
As I become more aware of my soul as I am experiencing being human, I’ve realized that there are inherent difficulties that can come with this.
Part of the difficulty for me has been the fact that learning to follow your soul has been very much like walking blindfolded in a pitch dark place, having to learn to use another set of senses to guide your way.
You have to develop this set of senses, and keep developing them, if you want to fulfill your soul’s desires and understand yourself to the very core. This requires discernment: you have to know when to shut out outer influences and trust your inner voice.
There is a time to acquire knowledge from outside yourself, and a time to shut it out and pay more attention inwardly.
I’ve noticed that the majority of people I meet don’t really know how to trust themselves, let alone listen to themselves, and it’s not really their fault. We are part of a time when we look to external authorities, common knowledge or perhaps the “latest” knowledge in order to decide what anything means. We are taught this from a young age — we get our knowledge from going to school and having someone tell us what things mean.
It’s not a surprise to most at this point in time that as a whole on Earth, we are spiritually lacking, because we are mostly cut off from our selves.
The idea that there is wisdom to be gained from our own selves — from a part of our selves — sounds ridiculous to many. So they don’t even attempt to believe in themselves or begin to listen. They see themselves as just another human going to school to “get smarter.”
From the time I was 17 years old, I began to have significant things happen to me psychologically (including my first “consciousness-expanding” experience at 18). If I, for example, had had a parent who was not very open-minded and I had told them what happened to me, I could’ve been committed to an asylum.
Instead, I learned to follow what my intuition was telling me. Because it was sending messages to me loud and clear, and honestly, those messages were hard to ignore even if I had wanted to.
The other difficult thing that happens when you begin to align more with the “soul” part of you, is that you begin to have things happen to you that make it more difficult to relate to others at times.
You may begin to feel, see, and desire different things that sets you apart from the rest. You may become more detached and potentially not enjoy the things you used to enjoy in the same way anymore.
Values or other perceptions you felt once were a part of who you thought you were may begin to fall away as your human character expands beyond what you thought it could ever be.
Seeing the Duality More Clearly: My “Higher Self” Is a Parent to Me
I like to say this journey of awareness really accelerated starting at age 17, and I am now 35. It has taken me this long to be aware of this “soul” part of me to the degree I am now, after developing my mental tools.
In one key experience I had which was some type of random out of body experience, I sensed my “higher self” presence there directly. It felt as though it was the parent and I was the child, yet both were me! It’s hard to make logical sense of with the way we understand things, as it did feel like a separate presence from me in some way, but it was pretty clear that it wasn’t somebody else.
After that for about two weeks, I felt this incredibly secure, beautiful, unimaginable sense of love. It felt like something was taking care of me, showing it loved me and wrapping me in the most unbelievable security blanket. It wasn’t a presence I sensed at that time, but rather just the love itself.
I still don’t fully know where that sense of love came from, but I believe it may have been a result of experiencing that higher consciousness state in the way I did.
The Expansion of Your Understanding of Your Identity
As you continue to wake up to your soul’s presence and understand that you are not just merely the human character you’ve been playing for so long, there is usually a bit of an initial shock or time period of integrating this knowledge. Because quite honestly, it changes your life completely. But it only comes to you when you are ready.
When this integration happens, over time you slowly start to uncover things that feel like you simply had long forgotten them. But at the same time, you can’t put these memories on any kind of timeline. They feel like they are coming more from another dimension (for lack of a potentially better term) than they are another “time.”
For one thing, I began to constantly get what feels like pieces of memories coming from this “soul” part of me. I was able to feel that it not coming from the same part of me that my typical human memories come from. But these memories are so vague that I can’t hold on to them for more than a second. However they often offer me some recognition of something. They often feel like a very sudden remembrance and confirmation of something I experienced but once again, on a timeline I cannot pinpoint.
No matter where you’re at in your life in terms of understanding who you are and how things work, I think the most important thing to take away from all this is simply to believe in yourself and trust in yourself. Learn to go within.
Sometimes this starts by simply questioning who you think you are and why. Where do some of your opinions and perceptions come from? What types of emotional attachments might you have that drive your desire to interpret something one way or another?
Try to look at yourself objectively and with an open mind, and watch how your thoughts tend to process things. Are you mostly negative or positive? Where is the negativity coming from, and does it have any basis?
The journey within typically starts with questions and really learning to acknowledge why you are feeling what you are feeling, without judging yourself.
It’s all easier said than done, but it is one of the most worthwhile journeys there is — and it becomes an endless river of learning as well as many rewards along the way. Over time, you’ll begin to have more confidence, depth, and clarity than you could’ve imagined having.
A long time ago, my talented best friend and spoken word artist Cory Russo wrote a poem about the power of pain and how it can change us entirely. For me, one of the most meaningful lines from this poem was, “I can make an atheist drop to his knees and pray — I AM PAIN.” (Click here to listen to her entire poem!).
This line is meaningful on many levels. For me, it has only become more relevant and meaningful over time, as I relate it to my journey of life’s experiences kicking my ass and deepening my character in the meantime.
It is my journey of a dominating skeptical attitude into openness, as I became more aware that this skepticism was primarily due to my own lack of awareness and knowledge, which in turn led me to believe that I was knowledgeable enough to assert my opinion on things I didn’t know enough about.
Like most people at one time of our lives or another, I was more aware of popular opinion regarding certain topics that seemed “illogical” and this is the stance I would take, without actually having proper experience regarding that topic.
Skepticism obviously isn’t necessarily bad — as everything should be examined properly and skepticism often exists for a reason.
However at the same time, it has the great potential to keep us closed, and doesn’t always allow us to actually examine from a neutral and open mind state. We don’t have to believe, but we don’t necessarily have to be skeptical, either.
Being open is ultimately about getting to a point in life where you have enough humility to understand that our levels of knowledge are always relative and life truly is a much more multi-dimensional place than we can fathom or experience easily here on Earth.
After 34 years on this Earth, I’m at a point now where I look back and see how much openness has given me vs. how much skepticism did. There is no comparison.
For example, if I had allowed skepticism to dominate what was happening to me during any consciousness-expanding experiences I had at a very young age (without knowing what the F was going on with me), I wouldn’t have learned from it the way I did.
During that sensitive time, I had to completely shut out the noise from the external world and really pay attention to what my own self was telling me about this experience. If I had listened to some others, I might have believed instead that I needed to be reeled in with some medication.
Now, to elaborate on pain and suffering.
Many of us that are trying to understand the mystery of our existence often wonder why, if there’s some sort of higher power, that pain and suffering are allowed to exist to the extent that they do. What is their purpose? Why would a higher power make us suffer seemingly needlessly at times, if there is one?
It is something I had pondered on some occasions myself, but as I grow in awareness I feel I’m starting to understand it a bit more.
There is not necessarily one easy answer, as there are multiple reasons why pain and suffering occurs. Sometimes we cause our own, from our own lack of awareness. In those cases it is just simply cause and effect.
For whatever reason, from a young age I had multiple consciousness-expanding experiences that shattered my reality as I knew it.
My entire life felt like an illusion as I had discovered new inner worlds on another consciousness plane, not produced by thought and conception, but as a literal direct experience.
While I learned certain things in the moment of those experiences, it has taken me years to process each one of them and really understand them more over time.
These experiences did not come from a firmly held belief in anything. They were simply something that happened as a result of listening to myself and following these “feelings” I was getting from my intuition.
I was always very eager to share them with people, but with these not being common or well-understood phenomena, I was usually met with responses like, “are you SURE you weren’t on any drugs?”. Thankfully, this did not make me question the validity of my experiences. They had shaken my world in a way that was unlike anything I could have imagined, and I felt like I needed to share what I saw with the entire world. I felt I had a very important message.
But, people learn things at their own rate and in their own due time. It was not my place to control that, as much as my ego desired people to understand. All I could do is tell my story and leave it at that.
After the first experience, I still did have many unanswered questions about life and existence (and still do). There are many things I simply can’t know yet and am not going to pretend to. Each subsequent experience would show me a little more context, but generally what they gave me was more insight into the nature of our true selves, or our essence.
They led me to understand that there is more to our selves than what we experience here on Earth.
Yet as significant as these experiences were, the insights gained from them felt very obvious and clear. This knowledge is something that is with us all the time! It is just blocked by so many elements of our humanly experience. All of it was completely familiar. It was just finding something so essential that I had just long forgotten.
The best way I can explain it is that it was literally like waking up from a dream (the dream in this case being your current understanding and experience of your entire existence) into a completely new “world” where you suddenly meet your “real” self and you directly experience that you had merely been playing this human role your entire life, thinking that the role itself was you.
What an illusion! And what incredibly immense JOY it was to encounter my “real” entire self again! To see that there really IS more than this human drama we are playing out; that all of our sorrows, our worries, our pain, would someday be put in perspective. It feels like such an insane relief.
I had never known joy like what I felt in that experience. I literally cried for days out of happiness in meeting this part of myself. There is no way I could respond except by just an endless release of emotion. In attempting to explain it to my mom, I’m sure she thought I was nuts. I had no words.
There is no comparison between way that I see and understand life after these experiences versus my perspective prior — i.e., the “me” at that time that thought, “I have no reason to believe there is any form of existence after death or let alone any higher power. Why would I?”
And honestly, at that time, I was right — I didn’t have a reason to believe it. I had no personal experiences or insight into any other mode of existence, and I was never the type to blindly believe things like this. I was never religious, never believed in God (especially not in the traditional sense), and I had been a self-professed atheist or agnostic. I was once actually almost prideful to proclaim that I thought we entirely cease to exist after death.
That being said, words never fully do an experience like this justice.Unless you’ve had a similar experience, it’s easy to underestimate how much this can shift your entire psychological landscape.
It’s not just, “oh I didn’t know this and now I do,” the way typical knowledge acquisition works. No. It felt like I got a whole new operating system — and it mentally opened up door after door to new realizations. My beliefs didn’t change; I was just simply awake.
Occasionally I would casually ponder as to why this knowledge regarding our selves is as uncommon as it is. Why is it for the majority of us that our consciousness levels are lowered to the point that we have no recollection of these things unless we have some sort of consciousness-expanding experience?
I have learned over time that there is a VERY good reason why we aren’t able to easily remember our existence outside the Earth realm. Continuing to play the “human role” after meeting the “essence” or “soul” of ourselves and seeing that it’s so much more massive than this and not confined to this body, can feel very odd at times to say the least. It can make it incredibly more difficult to focus on just having a normal human experience if we are not ready to properly integrate the knowledge with our existence here.
Regardless, I understood that we are here on Earth to have an experience, no matter what that experience entails. Within the experience will be many trials and lessons.
So, any pain and suffering we may go through — it may be seem needless or unjust, but it’s not us or even close to our entire story.
However, suffering WILL ALWAYS deepen our characters and give us perspectives we may not have been able to have had otherwise. It rounds out our character and strengthens our spirit.
Ram Dass speaks on this all the time. He is a former Harvard Psychology professor who turned Hindu spiritual teacher and later in his life suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed the right side of his body.
I’ll take this passage from one of his most recent articles:
“There is a line from a letter that I wrote to the parents of a young girl who was raped and murdered that I would like to share with you. It said, ‘Something in you dies when you bear the unbearable. In other words, you go beyond just the horror and pain of it because it takes you beyond it. You can’t bear it and it is only in the dark night of the soul that you’re prepared to see as God sees and to love as God loves.’
It’s the horrible beauty of the Universe and to realize that there is a wisdom inherent in it, and that wisdom includes suffering and that all suffering is not an error. Until you are resting in a place that understands that, it’s quite presumptuous to think you know best. I have watched in the work I do with people that are dying, where they suffer and suffer and suffer and if I could, as a human emotional heart, I would do everything I could to take away their suffering. It breaks my heart that they’re suffering and I watch as the suffering burns its way until they finally give up because the suffering is so great. I’ve watched as they give up, something emerges in their being that is so beautiful and so radiant and so spiritually innocent, that it’s like they meet a part of their being that has been hidden all their lives. It’s like an egg being cracked open.”
He also talks at length about what suffering through his stroke has given him, and that he wishes that all people could experience the grace that the suffering gave him, but without the unfortunate experience of the stroke itself.
It is from people like Ram Dass and my own consciousness-expanding experiences I was able to have that I feel compelled to share this message:
The experiences we have here on Earth are all for a purpose and there is hidden beauty in them that we will eventually be able to see. The greatest part is that it is not our entire story, so we must have hope that one day we will be able to see the greater context for why we are going through what we are going through.
My wish is that you may retain a glimmer of hope and that every minute, every second that you fight a battle you are strengthening your own spirit (even if it feels like the opposite) and the end result will be something beautiful.
If you’re currently suffering from anything at all, hang in there and know that you are not alone, and there is a bigger picture that you will see one day that will bring you a peace and understanding like you could never imagine.
”The wound is the place where the light enters you.” —Rumi
If there is one thing I could say has been the greatest and most difficult goal I have had to continually work towards, it would be letting go: Letting go when things don’t go your way, when people don’t understand you, when you lose someone you love; or of emotions such as anger, jealousy, or just unproductive thoughts in general. Then there is learning to let go of the all the expectations of yourself and your life that might just not turn out how you thought.
It really is a moment-to-moment practice that increases in difficulty with the more attachments and illusions you have. The more you try to control any circumstances in your life, the more tightly-wrapped and emotionally involved you become; thus it’ll then create more of a mental buildup that you will have to overcome in order to not be disappointed when things don’t go your way.
All of this might be something we understand intellectually, but when it comes to putting it into action, there’s no denying that it is really hard, usually because we get in the way of our own selves.
“Where Did This Anger Come From?”
We have emotions that we have to deal with that can spark up for any reason at all. Our emotional reactions are often telling of where we might have insecurities or a certain perspective of things that might not be allowing us to see a situation as it is. But working through these things takes time and an awareness that it is happening in the first place.
One way I struggle with this is when I’m talking with someone and they aren’t understanding what I’m saying, or I feel like they are criticizing me. My initial reaction might be to get frustrated, and once they see my frustration, the emotions elevate on both sides and the conversation can turn into a fight. To avoid this, I don’t try to fight the frustration necessarily, but simply acknowledge that it’s there and that expressing it won’t help anything. I remind myself as to why the frustration occurs and then try to tell myself things that will de-escalate it.
Letting Go of Negativity
Another example where I had difficulty letting go in the past had to do with how I would absorb myself into the negativity of the world. This is easy to do, because the negativity is everywhere. You can tune into any sort of news source and get your daily dose of saddening news.
Top that with a curiosity for why things happen the way they do, or to try to understand the minds of people who commit horrible crimes, and it can be even harder to not get sucked into this stuff.
Humans also tend to be drawn towards things that are shocking or even violent, which is why so many shows that are full of thrilling content tend to get people hooked.
I used to think that being tuned into the worlds’ horrors (and not avoiding them) kept me realistic and on my feet, but I discovered this was just another illusion. It was just something my fear was telling me, and kept me just a little farther from peace of mind.
The problem is that negativity is draining.
As time passed and I grew a little older (and wiser), I realized that the more negativity I was surrounded with, the more drained I was. I understood the idea of creating my own mind state of positivity, but felt at the time that in order to do that I had to deny the reality of things.
The truth is that you can always be aware of the reality of what’s happening around you, but you don’t have to let yourself be consumed by it.
Additionally, once I became self-aware enough to realize how negativity was affecting me personally, I naturally began to want to avoid it.
Stepping into Self-Awareness
One of the best things we can do for ourselves is strive to become more aware of our emotional responses, accepting them for what they are, and work on managing them the best we can. Often, this will take consistent work and monitoring of ourselves, but the resulting awareness is worth it. Because then we begin to free ourselves more and more in being able to choose how we respond rather than falling into our habitual emotional patterns.
It’s also worth taking some time to think about what expectations we have of the world and of people, and how these might be affecting the way we operate or taking away our energy. Many of us have a certain idea of how you’re supposed to act or respond in any given situation. People are also generally too caught up in what’s socially acceptable and what isn’t. The more we can free ourselves from these boundaries (obviously without being completely unreasonable), the more we can feel out our natural responses and experience internal peace.
Lastly, we should evaluate our lives and see what circumstances might be bringing us down. It’s not worth keeping overly negative people or situations in our life. We need to take care of ourselves and sometimes certain people or situations can affect our mental health much more than is readily apparent.
“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” —Unknown
Let’s be honest: On average, the way we as human beings have learned to handle our emotions is very often a mess. We all have a myriad of emotions we might experience throughout just one day, and we are so used to our own emotions that we may not really think to look at them, or we might sometimes have a certain way of always dealing with them (that may or may not be healthy).
Some people may express one emotion more strongly in order to cover up the other, some people may hide them entirely, some people may have them but are in denial themselves over what they are feeling.
On top of that, the way we grow up may condition us to judge ourselves over what we are feeling, causing us to feel alienated from others.
Males are often taught to handle their emotions differently than women (part of which led to the idea that women are more emotional than men, but through all my life experience to date I can say with confidence this is not true). They are just often expressed and handled differently, and men and women sometimes place importance on different things.
Emotion is a touchy, emotional subject in itself. But the truth is, emotions are also a gateway.
The way that we handle and express our emotions can give us clues about our true feelings on many things, even if intellectually we may not admit it.
Through all my meditation ― i.e. exploration of the self ― and from ten or so years of being on the antidepressant Prozac, I’ve learned that recognizing and properly handling our emotions is an incredibly important step towards enhanced self-awareness that cannot be overlooked.
Prozac really muted my emotions, and while most people would think that is a blessing (and in some cases where people tend to overreact or over-stress, it might be), it actually at times led to confusion about how I really felt about things. It literally cut me off from myself in this way, and it was coming off of Prozac that made me really see the difference.
Our emotions can be the thing that tells us exactly what’s in our hearts, even if we don’t want to listen. They might in fact be the only thing that shows us our most fulfilling path in life, if we are willing to put our guard down, embrace them, and experience life with an open heart.
They may give us hints towards things we hadn’t yet intellectually considered, and if we analyze them a bit, we might realize there is a long chain of cause and effect that end up making us feel a certain way. Something that might lead far back to our past that was a traumatizing event and is now dominating our lives majorly, yet we may not have even noticed.
Even if we think the way we are experiencing emotions is completely fine and there’s nothing wrong, just paying more attention to them and learning to embrace them fully can release us in ways we may not have even imagined. It means we are actually willing to become more in touch with ourselves.
Accepting our emotions might also allow us to slowly let go of layers of emotional baggage so that we can be freer than ever before, because true freedom starts in the mind.
Some Tips on More Effectively Handling Our Emotions
The most important thing: Pay Attention. That’s it. Buddhists have talked about attention as their greatest advantage when breaking the chains of the mind. It’s true. If we don’t watch over our own minds (and our emotions), we will be controlled by them. Take some time to really understand why you’re feeling what you do.
Understand the intelligence and awareness that lies in vulnerability. In other words, don’t be afraid to be real with yourself, even if it breaks your pride a little bit. The things in life that break our pride are what shows us where we can improve, or might show us the true nature of things, even if it feels crappy. This is easier said than done, though, and I realize that. I don’t like having my ego deflated, either. But it sure has awoken me many-a-time to reality.
Don’t judge yourself based on what you should or shouldn’t be feeling. Many people do this subconsciously and tuck their feelings away.
Learn to express them fully, without question, then let them go. Go deep into your emotions and explore them. Live them out fully. When doing so, they will live out their life and then release. It is only by resisting and suppressing them that they might stay alive forever.
“You don’t need to control emotion,” he said. “Emotions are natural, like passing weather. Sometimes it’s fear, sometimes sorrow or anger. Emotions are not the problem. The key is to transform the energy of emotion into constructive action.” ― Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior
“Emotions are the next frontier to be understood and conquered. To manage our emotions is not to drug them or suppress them, but to understand them so that we can intelligently direct our emotional energies and intentions…. It’s time for human beings to grow up emotionally, to mature into emotionally managed and responsible citizens. No magic pill will do it.” ― Doc Childre
I have found that many of the systems and paths that we have carved out for us in life, or that we follow, can improve our skills but may sometimes dull our creativity or even cover up things in life that we feel truly passionate about.
We may learn that following a path and acquiring achievements and recognition from doing so is the kind of happiness that we think we need. We forget what it feels like to be truly ignited by something, or we sacrifice pursuing that as we consider it less important.
However, I don’t think there’s anything more important.
Sure, we have to make a living and that requires us to make sacrifices sometimes. But, we still are in charge of getting our priorities straight and creating a life for ourselves that may be the “road less traveled by” but allows us to be our best selves and give to the world and ourselves all of our potential.
And, this kind of awareness helps us to truly appreciate life and what we are here for. It brings us out of the mud and makes us feel alive again.
Adulthood doesn’t have to be dull, systematic, and dominated only by to-dos.
There should be an undertone of joy, even amidst all the ups and downs.
Learning How to Appreciate
In thinking about what “becoming alive again” REALLY means, I realized it boils down to one primary attribute: appreciation. You have to learn to appreciate what’s in front of you. Being grateful is talked about a lot these days. However, it’s not just a matter of turning on your “grateful” switch. It’s often not simply just an intellectual process.
It’s very much an awareness that unfolds with really seeing and understanding what comes together in our lives to make us healthy and happy. In other words, it might take some work.
For example, once I tuned in enough to my body to see how good it feels when I eat food with wholesome ingredients (not processed, no added sugar), that represented a very real kind of awareness that made me appreciate healthy food that is doing good for my body.
At the bottom of all of this is us. We have to learn to get in tune with our selves and the rest will follow.
Here are seven things I thought of that can help uncover that feeling of becoming alive again (note, most of these need to be done regularly and require effort and patience. But if done, they will make a huge difference in your life.):
Appreciate your food. Take a moment to think about where your food came from, be thankful that you have it, and chew slowly. Try to observe, and enjoy the process of eating. This took me a long time to do. But I noticed that I started naturally doing it in my times of highest awareness and clarity – like after spending time in nature.
Observe the cause and effect of all situations in your life. Take a look at what happened to lead you where you are today. If you are happy in your current situation in all regards, that’s great. If not, observe the circumstances that took place to lead you where you are today, and where you might be able to make changes to an entirely different path that will lead you to entirely different place.
Watch your mind. This one is the biggest one and I could write a book about it (and many have). But, your mind is the tool with which you create your perceptions and shape your life. Do not hold on to negative thoughts. We all get them, but practice letting them go. Observe and see how your perspectives might be telling you what you can or can’t do, or how life should or should not be. You don’t have to do anything here, but learn to watch.
Experience more. Try new things. Things that might connect you with others, or show you something about yourself. It could be as small as trying a new food you were hesitant to try. Dare to go outside your comfort zone. You’re not getting anything from being in it.
Start paying attention to gut reactions. Learn to say no. I always considered myself a pretty in-tune person, but I realized that just by habit I was often dismissing my own feelings on things. It can actually be a difficult process to differentiate between “this feels like something I should do, not that I’m excited to do,” if we’re always used to putting away our own feelings.
Evaluate your life goals. What kind of goals are you setting, and why? What are you looking to achieve, and why? Is it something that you feel will make you more fulfilled on a deep level, or is it something that you think you should be doing to get ahead? I remember thinking years ago that I just wanted to hit a $50k income goal and that that’s all the money I would need in life ever. Now that I’ve hit that income goal and grown a little wiser, I’ve realized it is so not about the money. We all need it and more is better, but I realized that thinking in terms of money was getting in the way of me focusing on creating a life that fulfilled me, regardless of the income. It is kind of a trick; you have to reverse engineer this thinking. You have to go after what you enjoy doing the most and focus on your talents, and not worry about if it will make you enough money or not. Things will then fall into place.
Set aside time for things in your life on a regular basis. Before bed, I made a sort of routine to light candles, turn off all electronics, read a book and drink tea. This has given me a happiness I didn’t have before. It allows my body to relax and contemplate the day. I’ve realized that constantly being distracted by electronics can create a stress response and not allow us to truly relax, even though you may not realize it at first.
When I was younger and a good thing happened in my life, I was always full of wishes for it to last forever. I’d say to myself “please PLEASE let me have this person in my life forever!!!” or what have you — I’d plead and beg to myself that things wouldn’t change and that it was something I could keep, in its exact state, as it was in that moment. I’m sure most of those of you reading this can relate.
It’s like that first love you had that was unlike anything you had ever experienced and allowed you to experience a whole new range of emotions and maybe made you feel a little more grown up, like you could say you finally knew what this “love” thing was all about.
It might’ve helped you form your identity by having this new experience with another human being and made you feel more important, because you were getting extra validation of your actions and your existence with this close relationship, and through each other you begin to meet new people who see you not just as an individual but a unit.
But as I have gotten older, the passage of time has told me the necessity of change. However, it has also shown me how resistant some of us still are to it. Even as we age, most of us have a plethora of external circumstances that continue to validate our actions. We learn to look to external sources — be it people, structures and systems such as school, accomplishments, careers, and what have you — as tools to measure our existence by.
It’s hard to ignore, because it happens by habit and by growing up in a society with structured systems that each of us plays a part in. Everything becomes a matter of relativity to something else; we’re making less money than someone else, we’re a different color than someone else, we didn’t accomplish a certain number of degrees compared to someone else, and thus the list goes on forever…and in even more subtler ways we might not immediately recognize.
We might be in and out of relationships that put us in different life situations where we have varying social statuses or introduce us to situations that are new and we discover new dimensions to add to what we understand as our identity.
Sometimes we notice how other people (or groups of people) react to us as a person and use that to understand ourselves or our placement in this world. Our identity really ends up becoming the sum of comparisons against something else, or a sum of the reflection of others’ opinions. And sometimes, we forget to learn how to look beyond all of it to reveal the source.
It might sound in words more simple than it is, but it is really complex, because from the time we were born, we have been introduced to life on earth and society as it is in this current state. We learn to understand ourselves only in the context of the current state of our world. If we don’t naturally explore other ideas frequently in our minds, learning to uncover our core can be a major undertaking.
These days, I use meditation and frequent contemplation to discover what deeply rooted perceptions I might have that were built from the time I was a kid or during days where I didn’t know better. I try to observe my day-to-day emotions and actions and see where they might be stemming from, or what is provoking them.
In my opinion, there is nothing more valuable than the evolution of the self. Relationships of all kinds, achievements and the like are important, but if they are becoming a hindrance to your potential, this is likely an issue or will become one. Healthy relationships and circumstances should be helping you to propel you forward, or should at least be supportive as you reach new heights in your understanding of your self.
And without change, we would suffer. We’d never grow, be pushed out of our comfort zone, and come to understand the world in new ways. We’d never reach new heights of happiness or release the chains of our mind that might be holding us back.
If change comes knocking at your door, open it with welcome arms and remind yourself that it might be the opportunity of a lifetime, even if it’s disguised behind a veil.
“I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen in a person’s life. As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience.” — Martin Buber