Tag Archives: self love

Mindfulness: A practice, not a desination

I’ve spend much of the past three months forgetting to apply much of what I’ve learnt over the past three and a half years. I’ve been focused on the future, attached to a specific idea of success, falling into old habitual thought patterns, and failing to practice presence.

The effects of this have not been pretty. Yearning, worrying, failing, and then judging myself for said failures, criticising myself, and then feeling self loathing, shame, despair, anguish, and excruciating frustration. All of which continues in a negative loop.

Self analysis comes easily to me and I am self aware. I’ve been able to see what I’m doing and how it’s affecting my world, but the excruciating part has been feeling powerless to change it. Especially when I know that I have the tools.

None of this is actually all that surprising. You see, this new journey I’m on with building a dōTERRA business is stretching me like nothing before. It’s taking me out of my comfort zone, and forcing me to address blockages and pain points that I’ve avoided and hidden from for years. And as a result, my ego is going bananas, fighting tooth and nail to survive.

You see, the ego is an ancient evolutionary survival mechanism. Its purpose is to keep us alive and safe. It evolved to ensure that we would focus on danger, threats and negativity (such as the tiger that might be hunting us or the condemnation of our tribe that might see us thrown out and left unprotected) and then do whatever it takes to prevent them from eventuating. And it’s bloody good at its job – because back in the day, it was quite literally a matter of life and death.

So my ego is keenly aware that if I am to achieve the vision I’ve created for my business, I’m going to have to do things that feel very threatening:

  • Share and speak my truth in ways that will resonate with some, but that will be negatively judged by others: there will be people who won’t like me and my message.
  • Drop negative subconscious programming around “success” and generating income, which will take me into unchartered waters i.e. unfamiliarity and discomfort.
  • Drop my habitual thought patterns of “I’m a failure”, “I’m incapable”, “I’m ashamed of myself”, “I’m not good enough”, and “I’ll never succeed”, which are all very effective at keeping me small and safe and dependent.

So whilst I’ve been wallowing in despair, anguish, self hate and frustration, my ego has been high fiving itself for a job well done. Cause there ain’t no one gonna build a successful business off the back of that!

I writhed with the pain and frustration of knowing that I have the tools to move through this yet felt so completely stuck. I could observe my thoughts and see what my ego was doing and why. Yet I couldn’t separate myself from it. I watched helplessly as my ego took the driver’s seat, and pummelled me down even further as I hated on myself for being so stuck.

Then one day last week I had an instant of clarity. I was in the kitchen, despairing about my latest results, when I suddenly realised I was buying into a story of failure and what that meant. I realised that I actually had a choice as to whether I allowed these results to send me into wallowing self-pity and despair. I could actually conjure any alternative story of my liking – for example, I could accept the results, and recognise them as a step towards learning and progress and ultimate success. Or I could drop any idea of story altogether – the results are the results, and without my mind-created thoughts and judgements, they have no meaning. Whatever the case, I could instantly let go of the story that this was a situation worthy of despair and self criticism. And importantly, I noticed that buying in to the negative story is what comes automatically. And despite the pain, there is an aspect of the negativity that is comfortable and so easy to choose, because it’s familiar and safe. Choosing differently requires bravery and diligent effort.

It hasn’t been a fast and complete turnaround since that revelation, but it’s reminded me to come back, once again, to my mindfulness and presence practice. Without ongoing and intentional diligence and persistence, I will continue to be overcome by my ego, finding it in the driver’s seat of my life again and again. She’s got staying power.

So it’s back to The Power of Now. Back to my mindfulness resources. Back to my practice. Back to the continual, moment by moment remembrance that I have a choice – to identify with my ego, or identify with my higher self. I’ve remembered that results are subjective. Whilst they hold importance when we consider things like being able to pay the bills, put food on the table and a roof over out head, focusing on them is not conducive to success. When we focus on the now, and act from a place of love, service and faith, our needs are met.


Main image photo by me.

Thank goodness for yoga

I had an epiphany during yoga practice on Tuesday night. I’ve been silently chastising myself for the fact that I’m struggling with my vinyasa practice lately. I’ve been telling myself that I’m not getting to enough classes, not consistent enough in my practice, I’m doing too many restorative classes (as if there is such a thing as too much!) instead of vinyasa classes, and my strength and stamina have deteriorated as a result, which is bad. I’ve been mentally beating myself up, for undoing all the good that I’d achieved with my practice in the first half of 2014. I had come so far, and I feel like I’m back at the beginning. I’m letting myself down, being slack, not being disciplined enough. My ego has been running rampant, telling me stories of how my teachers have no doubt noticed the deterioration in my practice, that they wouldn’t think very highly of me, and that it’s a visible sign to others that I haven’t got it all together. I even felt the pang of jealousy when I heard a teacher compliment another student on his beautiful practice. I was the one receiving those comments six months ago.

Then, on Tuesday, it suddenly dawned on me during the middle of practice – it doesn’t matter.

Yoga is not an ideal to be achieved. It is not a spectator sport. It’s not about progression.

Yoga is about the here and now. It is the union of mind and body. I have been missing this point for months.

My new mantra, which has brought me so much peace in the past few weeks, applies to my yoga journey:

Surrender.
I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and my journey gives me everything I need to learn and grow. I trust the entire process. The Universe delivers everything I ask for, and more.

So, it doesn’t matter. The deterioration of my strength and stamina is simply part of my journey, part of the process. I don’t need to berate myself for it. It isn’t bad, it just is what it is.

Of course, I’d like to improve my practice and regain my lost yoga fitness, even surpass it. But instead of striving for progression, adding love to this equation means that the outcome is irrelevant. Even if I never progress my practice from where it is today, it will continue to serve me well. I am nourished by my yoga, it teaches me stillness and presence. For that, I am grateful.


BRINGING MY YOGA PRACTICE INTO MY DAILY LIFE

I mentally beat myself up for all kinds of things on a daily basis. I’ve learnt that this habit is destructive and useless, but it is so ingrained that it has been a tough one to break.

For the purposes of shedding light on this struggle, I wrote a list of everything I could think of for which I berate myself. When I got to #37 without the end anywhere in sight, I decided I’d better not continue down that dark and depressing hole. It was obvious that, as countless people have told me over and over again for many years, I am very hard on myself. The vitriol that I brutally douse myself with repeatedly throughout every single day, is so toxic, cruel and ruthless that I would never even contemplate inflicting it on any other living creature. And yet, for me, it is the every day, every hour, every minute norm. I suspect that I am not the only one with this horrendous habit.

Why we think it is ok to treat ourselves in a manner that we would never treat another living creature is beyond me. Perhaps it’s a psychological issue that someone knowledgeable could explain, but I’m at a point where I don’t care about reasons any more. I just care about solutions.

In the wider scheme of the Universe, the things that I berate myself for are not inherently bad, just as they are not good. They are what they are. The “badness” is something I attribute to the thing in my mind. The goals I’ve failed to achieve, the ideals I fail to live up to, the skills I am deficient in, the struggles I face, the mistakes I make, the dreams I haven’t made manifest … they’re all essentially meaningless. None of it matters. And yet, I am so emotionally attached to every single one of them, it’s hard to believe that they don’t matter.

Let me stop talking figuratively, and give you a specific example to illustrate exactly what I mean. My biggest “bashing” item on the list at present, is how I feel about my experience of motherhood. Oftentimes, since I gave birth to my second baby, I’ve hated motherhood. I LOVE my precious babies, but I hate motherhood, because it is so damn hard, frustrating, monotonous, relentless, overwhelming, all consuming, and heart breaking. I feel as though I hadn’t fully established who I was pre-kids, let alone now that I feel so lost in motherhood. Of course, there are days scattered amongst the endless months where motherhood feels peachy. I also realise that “hate” is a very strong word to use about this period of my life, especially when I also associate this time with the miracle and beauty of my children and the intense love that I have for them. Let’s put it down to hormones (can I still blame them 3 years post-partum??), a tendency to dramatics, and laziness with accurately describing my feelings, but hate is just the word that slips out of my mouth.

So, I mentally flog myself for feeling these feelings. I know I am privileged to experience motherhood. I know I chose this path. I am so grateful to have been given the role of mothering these two precious souls. I know. I even know that my attitude about this, quite frankly, sucks. But, as so many before me have said, although I was told it was hard, I never anticipated the pain that motherhood would bring. I tell myself I am a bad person for feeling this way, for not loving and cherishing motherhood. I tell myself that these feelings must be damaging my children. I feel so much guilt, I feel shame, I feel unworthy as a mother for not yet having found a way to make motherhood feel great. I’ve made my feelings bad, and I’m convinced of their “badness”.

So, how can I bring my yoga practice to this part of my life?

Just as yoga is not an ideal to be achieved, neither is motherhood. There is no perfect way that motherhood is meant to be experienced that I should be striving to live up to. It simply is what it is. It’s a word used to describe an experience that I currently find myself engulfed in, that doesn’t need to be experienced in a prescribed way. It doesn’t matter if I like it or hate it. That doesn’t make me a good or bad mother. It doesn’t diminish the love I have for my children. Motherhood is not who I am. It’s a word to describe something I’m experiencing.

My yoga practice brings me to the present. It puts me in the here and now. If I do that in my motherhood experience, I can be present with my kids. I can put the frustrations and the overwhelm into perspective. I can keep calm amongst the storm.

If I bring yoga to my motherhood, it doesn’t matter if I’m hating it. It’s part of my journey, part of the process. If I continue to hate it, that’s meaningless. If I add self love and acceptance for my feelings of hating motherhood, instead of berating myself, I might actually just hate it a little less, and find the space to love some more, to accept the difficulties, and find more joy in being with my kids. But the outcome is irrelevant, and not what I need to focus on.

So now I’m beginning to understand what my teachers are talking about at the end of class, when they say to take your yoga practice into your life. I think that if there was less “mental bashing”, and more presence and love in my life, miracles really could happen. I can walk my path knowing that I’m simply here, and I love, and that is enough.

xx


*Image credit: Yoga class, by Augusto Mia Battaglia. Under licence.

Lying by accident

I noticed something kind of embarrassing this evening. I was recalling a conversation I had with my friend this morning, during which I told her that we’re moving house this coming week. I said something along the lines of “So everything’s a bit crazy at the moment!” Something about her response made me hesitate for a moment in continuing the conversation down the same track, and I slightly tweaked the trajectory of where my subject matter was heading, turning eventually to discuss things in a somewhat more positive light. I’m not certain of exactly what it was that she said or did that made me do this, and I can’t make assumptions about what she was actually thinking, but it was just something I sensed, that she perhaps thought I was being dramatic, or overly negative, or just a bit strange. Thinking back about it this evening, I remember another friend having a very similar response when we were discussing the exact same topic. I then thought about all the other people I’ve had the same conversation with over the past week or so. Something about every single one of those conversations just felt … off.

I realised tonight why they felt off. Truth be told, I don’t feel like “everything’s a bit crazy at the moment!” Things are actually ok. Despite having a lot of packing to do, whilst running a household, amongst the usual routines around kinder and playgroup and the usual kid-related shenanigans, and a husband who has “done his back” – things are fine. I’ve been packing when I can, sorting bits and pieces out here and there, and not getting in a flap about it.

So, why have I been telling everyone that things are crazy? For starters, I can tend to be a drama queen at times, so telling everyone that things are fine and on track wouldn’t get me the attention that a drama queen craves. But tonight, my epiphany has shed light on the deeper reason as to why I’ve been telling everyone I’m so stressed out.

I’ve changed.

If I had been in this position 12 months ago, or probably even 3 months ago, I would likely be stressing out big time. I would be freaking out about how much I need to do, with not enough time to do it, and not enough help. I’d be fretting and worrying, worrying and fretting.

Instead, I’ve hardly been thinking about the work ahead of me. My husband and I have talked about what needs to be done, and then I’ve done it when I can. On a few occasions when I’ve thought that I should be packing in the evenings, I’ve decided that a better idea would be to go to bed, or meditate, or do something enjoyable, so that I’m feelings refreshed and energized the following day, and hence able to do more.

It hadn’t consciously occurred to me until this evening that this is how I’ve been approaching this task. It’s just how I’ve begun rolling. And yet, when I talk about it with my friends, I’ve been telling them about how it would have been, in the past! My habits and actions have unconsciously changed, and my conscious mind hadn’t caught up! No wonder my negative chatter about the stressful move felt off!

So, this is good news. Great news, in fact. Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments of stress and overwhelm, but they’re few and far between. This is actually amazing, and the reality of it is only just hitting me now, as I write this instead of packing boxes.

So, you may be wondering, what do I put this fan-bloody-tastic turnaround down to? A few things:

1. My commitment to self care
In my last post, I wrote about the importance of prioritising self care. I’ve done A LOT of inner work on this area since writing that post. The truth is, I understood and believed the concept at a deep level, but I was still struggling to put it into practice. My inner work led me to a crucial realisation – I couldn’t prioritise self care, when I wasn’t practicing self love. This topic on it’s own is worthy of a separate blog post, but for now I can simply say that I’ve delved deep in this area over the past weeks, and I’ve made massive progress. Hooray! So suddenly, when I experience true self love, the act of prioritising self care comes naturally. So, when I have the option of packing boxes at 11pm or meditating before snuggling in to bed for an early night, it’s really a no brainer. I’ve become very conscious of making choices based on whether they will have a healthy outcome for me.

2. My yoga practice
I resumed a regular yoga practice approximately 15 months ago, and I can say for sure that it has turned my life around. There are times when I forget the importance of my practice, and then there are times when it hits me just how much I am nourished by it, and the hundreds of ways in which my life is so much better for being a yogini. Physically, my practice gives my body movement and space, and this translates into my mind. When I stop practicing, both my mind and my body become constricted, tight, and prone to pain. I lack clarity on the specifics of exactly why and how yoga helps me, but I don’t care – I just know that with yoga, life works better.

3. My meditation practice
A regular meditation practice has been a very recent introduction to my daily routine. I’ve dabbled before, but this is the first time I’ve been committed, consistent, and enthusiastic about it. I have been using a guided chakra cleanse meditation audio by Belinda Davidson. I find using an audio makes it much easier to concentrate and stay present. The effects of my practice so far have been subtle but profound. I attribute my ability to “not freak out”, to staying present, which has been helped by my meditation practice.

4. Improving my energy
In September, I enrolled in Belinda Davidson’s School of the Modern Mystic. Sounds pretty strange, but the premise of Belinda’s teachings is actually very logical. In order to change your life, you must first change your energy. This comes down to quantum physics, a fascinating subject, which I have a very (very!) limited understanding of, but at it’s core, everything in the universe is made of energy. So, to change something, you need to change the energy. School of the Modern Mystic teaches, amongst other things, how to change your energy (the Chakra Cleanse Meditation mentioned above is the primary way to do this). I’m currently at the end of week 9 of the course, and it’s been AMAZING. My energy is shifting, and there is so much I could write about this, but for now, I’ll just say that the turnaround I’ve experienced all
comes down to this. My energy is what has enabled me to experience true self love. My energy is what allows me to honour my commitment to my yoga practice and my meditation practice – in the past, I’ve been a world class self-saboteur. I’ve so much more to learn, but I can honestly say that I’ve never felt so grateful about where I’m at in life, or so confidently positive and excited about where I’m headed in life.

I’m changing my energy. I’m changing my life.

x


Image credit: pinnochio by jesiehart, used under license.