Looking within

One of my all time favorite books is the Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. As luck would have it, the book club that I am in chose this book as October’s selection.

One of the quotes from the book really stood out to me and was actually used as a discussion point:

“This is the essential difference between a spiritual minded person and a worldly person. Worldly means that you think the solution to your inner problem is the world outside. You think that if you change things outside, you’ll be okay. But nobody has ever truly become okay by changing things outside. There’s always the next problem. The only real solution is to take the seat of witness consciousness and completely change your frame of reference within.”

So how does one do that?

How can I change my internal reference of the outside world and myself?

I think we always look to change things on the outside because its safe. Its far easier to walk away from an uncomfortable situation or to blame someone else rather than accepting that the answer to the solution could be as close to my own heart.

There is definitely a time and a place to walk away from an unpleasant situation. If you are dealing with an abusive spouse, a dead end job or a friend that is sucking the life out of you.

But I think when we get in the habit of always walking away, closing ourselves off or changing our external situations, we never allow ourselves to truly look our own ego and fear in the eye.

Its easy to blame others for the way we feel.

We point the finger at others rather than actually taking a moment to look inward and ask ourselves why we feel the way we do. How can we quiet the voices (fear and ego) in our minds and take our focus inward and evaluate what can be changed on the inside in order to view things differently on the inside?

Can we talk about the ego for a second? It acts just like a child. The more attention you give it, the more it wants to come out and play and the harder you try to ignore it, the louder and more annoying it gets. Its a real piece of work.

In order to change our frame of reference within, we must not allow the ego to take control. Ill be the first to say that my ego wants to rear its ugly little head every waking moment of my day. My meditation and yoga practice helps keep it at bay, but its still a constant struggle to completely ignore its incessant chatter.

Although our ego is a normal part of the human condition, we have to be able to live a life that isn’t completely ruled by the actions it demands of us. We have to be able to say “I see you, I hear you, I know what you are trying to do and now its time for you to shut the hell up as I have no use for you.”  Obviously, that is much easier said than done but you get the point. Its a constant battle to fight our ego, but one we must be willing to fight every single day.

When we can shut the ego up, and connect to who we are on the inside, we can find peace within ourselves and we no longer need to change things on the outside. Our perception of the world is influenced by the truth we have found on the inside. We no longer feel the need to blame others or run from situations that are sticky or uncomfortable. We can stand tall in our truth and know that just as the world is not perfect, neither are we. And we can find comfort in knowing that sometimes, its just as easy as quieting our minds for a few moments and connecting to our breaths to find that connection to ourselves.

Connecting to ourselves is pretty powerful stuff. I invite you to spend some time doing whatever it might be that allows you to find this place within. For me, its meditation, yoga, journaling, sweating it out and deep conversations with friends over a bottle of wine. Whatever it is for you, open up space within to grow and expand and the next time a situation arises that leaves you wanting to quickly blame others or run in the other direction, ask yourself “what can I learn about myself from the experience?” Its a game changer, friends. Just try it.

Just chill out. 

I’ve made meditation a part of my daily routine for quite a few years now. It’s something that is very important to me and one thing that I try not to sacrifice. Of course, I’m only human and I’ve gone through times in the past where I fell short of my daily meditation goal. At times it’s been days and even months between each one.

 When I went to Florida for my Yoga Medicine training, Tiffany Cruikshank reignited that spark and inspired me to reconnect with my practice. In our training we would have daily meditations that would last 20-30 minutes. The first couple of times we did this I had a really hard time turning it all off and being in the moment. But once I allowed myself to surrender and to just be in the moment, I was able to relax and find stillness and peace. 

I forgot just how much I loved my practice and how incredibly important it is for me to just sit down and shut up for a bit. Other than when I’m sleeping, meditation is the only other time when I can turn off that little voice inside my head. The one with the constant dialogue. The one that never wants to shut up and at times can drive me close to insanity. As I’ve continued with this practice I’ve noticed some amazing side effects:

Mental Clarity

Calmness 

The ability to observe without feeling inclined to react

Greater awareness of my thoughts, actions, responses

The ability to make decisions based on how it will truly make me feel. 

Increased attention span.

Better sleep at night. 

Deeper connection to myself. 

More love and acceptance of myself and others. 

I can’t say enough about just how incredible a regular meditation practice is for your mind, body and soul. 

Here are some steps to establish a practice of your own. Remember, this should be tailored to what works for you. Play around with it and see what you think. 

1. Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted. This really can be anywhere. Anywhere in the world. I have a room in my house that I’ve dedicated as my space to chill out. I prefer to light candles and sometimes diffuse oils or burn an incense but it really is your preference. 

2. Come into a comfortable posture that you can be still in. This can be seated, lying down or you might even use some yoga props or blankets to prop yourself up. I prefer seated with my legs crossed and my hands resting in my lap. Some people advise against lying down as you might end up falling asleep, but my thoughts are if you are relaxed enough to fall asleep, great. The point of this is to chill out and quiet the mind. If you fall asleep, clearly you needed it. But again, all of this is personal preference. 

3. Set a timer. I advise this especially as you are first getting into the routine of meditating. There are many different smartphone apps you can use. I really like Insight Timer. It’s free and very user friendly. Plus, if you’re a type A personality, you can track your practice. If you’re not interested in an app, simply use the timer function on your phone or just a kitchen timer works great too. If you are using your phone, be sure to switch it over to airplane mode so you don’t get distracted. I would recommend starting at 5 mins and increasing your time from there. Trust me, starting out, 5 mins feels like a long time to be still and quiet! 

4. Relax and Breathe. Once you are set up and you are comfortable, close your eyes. Draw your awareness inward. Start to notice the breath. Observe as it moves through the body. There are many different ways you can meditate. I encourage you to find what resonates with you. I really like to either count my breath or I repeat a mantra. One that is special and that I can connect with. This doesn’t have to be anything super complex. 

Some examples are: 

I breathe in love, I breathe out fear

I am love, I am light

I am strong, I am open

I am enough, I am enough 

Make this your own. That’s the only way you will stick with it. And if you notice that your mind starts to wander (and it will, trust me) draw the focus back to the breath. Every single time. Don’t get frustrated. Just observe the thoughts and allow them to go just as quickly as they come. And start small. This practice takes a lot of dedication and love. If you allow yourself to get upset or frustrated then you’ve lost the point of this. It’s about relaxing the body and stilling the mind. Finding just a nugget of peace in our very busy lives. Recognize how truly fortunate you are to have the opportunity to spend just a few moments in silence for self reflection and self love and appreciation. You might even get a journal and keep track of your practice and the things that come up mentally and emotionally for you. Have fun with this! Explore! 

Just enjoy the journey. Don’t focus so much on the destination. 

Namaste.