This would be a great poster to help me to avoid these pitfalls, as sometimes I forget! I’m almost at day 30 of a 30 day Headspace meditation series all about “focus”… and it’s been one of the most powerful exercises yet.
I can’t understate what I’ve put myself through out here and one day I hope to share the full story (much of it in just not appropriate for Facebook without proper context… but suffice to say it’s been a true dance between my shadow and my light. This trip has blown my understanding of myself wide open, and as seems to be the pattern that comes with it, the realization that much of the real work is just getting started. That said, I already feel more patience and compassion with myself than ever before, as well as acceptance for my path and commitment to seeing it through.
To get here, for the last 4 months I have abstained (besides a few allowances here and there) from almost all stimulants (smoking, booze, coffee, refined sugar) and severely limited my reliance on life’s typical distractions (work and career aspirations, creative projects, relentless socializing, brain numbing entertainment, mindless sexual pursuit). I’m also off all prescription and recreational/non ceremonial drugs, and have been eating mostly organic and plant based foods (apart from the occasional eggs, dairy and fish) just to try to minimize ingesting things whose effects I don’t fully expect or understand. Even my toothpaste and deodorant is friggin’ herbal these days! Why, you ask? While this has all been playing out in exotic south east Asia, this trip has been more about a deep inner journey to uncover what the ‘unaffected me’ feels like. Is almost like I’ve been conducting my own inner control experiment. Who am I and how do i feel when I’m quiet and still?
What I’ve found has been pretty unsettling at times and brought some deep, recurring habits and character traits to light. There’s undeniably a super bright being at my core, but I have a recurring tendency towards extreme self rejection and cruelty. Some of my self talk is like I am choosing to be best friends with the worst person that I’ve ever met. This shadow self sneaks up and encourages me to feel that I’ve done something wrong, or that I’m fundamentally flawed in some way. That’s when I crave ANYTHING to stop feeling that way. But I’ve not been letting myself give in. That was an old habit pattern. But now I’m at a personal crossroads of evolution. At these times I have felt so tempted to just throw in the towel, but the highest part of me knows that if I don’t resolve this issue, I will only continue treating the symptoms, and I will continue these cycles of self sabotage, forever functioning at a fraction of my true potential. And it seems like a sad thing for a soul to not reach its fullest expression possible, doesn’t it? Personally I will not stand for that dammit!
My current best strategy is to continue to expose myself to all sorts of techniques that can help me go deep, expunging any remaining unresolved trauma… And then skillfully hacking it. The latest I tried last week, called EFT tapping, combines typical psychological counseling with self applied acupressure tapping. Crazy sounding I know! But similar to other effective techniques that I’ve tried it encouraged me to conjure up old trauma (without getting too over-sharey, I went through a trifecta of physical, emotional and sexual abuse as a kid) and then helps me rewrite the memories through a more compassionate and understanding emotional lens, thus reducing the intensity of the trauma’s grip on my psyche and affecting how it influences trigger actions and habit patterns in my day to day life. I apologize to anyone who’s experienced that shadow side and been as confused as me! I’m not going to lie, I feel like I’ve been undergoing brain surgery at times and there’s often some days of recovery time where things almost feel worse BUT each turn around time seems to be getting shorter and less overtly dramatic. So that’s good news at least!
So, I stand here committed, stepping onward to victory, my friends! I am slowly but relentlessly freeing myself from the shackles of my past. There’s no time to waste but no time to worry about it too much either. Before I tackle anything else I have the single focus of evolving into a being of truly unconditional love, starting with myself and emanating outward. This is my single most important priority right now, as it’s the foundation for all that follows. I aspire to living life fully, in a playful dance between the light and shadow in all things, dissolving duality with graceful equanimity and the calm of a buddha’s smile 🙂