Last month, we took that first and most daunting step – we challenged our inner critic and now we are slowly realizing that this voice inside of us is not our true voice. Naturally, the next question comes: “Which voice is my true voice then?” and today, in the second step, I will help you answer that. In the end, you will learn about three things you want to pay attention to that will bring you closer to knowing your Self.
Throughout this part, you will notice that the first and the second step are intertwined. There will be a constant battle between your true self and your inner critic. This is what we know and this is what we have learned from a young age. The relationship between your true Self and your inner critic is similar to the relationship between you and your parents – it is complicated, it is necessary and it can always be better (as is every other relationship between two humans and two souls).
The true emotional adulthood starts when we can observe our inner voice and differentiate between what is ours and what is learned. When we can differentiate between what is to be cherished and what is to be questioned.
For Jung, the Self is at the same time the whole and the center of our being. It is the center of our whole personality, not just the conscious one (the Ego). The Self is full of potential, it is unknown as well as all-knowing, and it is so precious that we formed walls of protection around it to keep it from harm. Our Self is often connected to our Inner Child, which is the little you that lays inside of you, the little you that has many hopes and wishes, the little you that had to be taught (by parents, usually) about the world. The thing is – they were often teaching us about surviving in the world, when we wanted to be taught about thriving.
Today’s story about the Self is the story about thriving. Knowing yourself means being in power. Being in power means knowing who you are, knowing what you want and knowing what you need. The three things you need for it are the following:
Get involved with things and hobbies you are drawn to. Ask a question more to the person you feel strangely comfortable with. Push the limits of what you were taught about the “real world”. By doing so, your Self will open up more and more. It will be louder and clearer and one day, I promise you, you will not be able to imagine a time without this deep knowledge – of knowing your Self.
Once we arrive to that point, we understand that this inner battle that is ongoing between our true Self and our inner critic is the same battle we will have to experience with people in our lives. This is where we need to learn how to protect ourselves. We learn about creating and maintaining boundaries in the next step, next month. Until then, connect to your Self – it is your oldest friend and your truest soul mate. I will be here with you.
Author: Eva Feldman, as a highly empathetic person and a psychologist, she connects her understanding of the human psyche with spirituality, focusing on consciousness and awareness. Her goal is to share knowledge and passion about human beings in a simple and understandable way, and in that way to contribute to raising awareness in this day and age. Masters degree in Psychology, education in Art Expressive Therapy, as well as personal interests of social justice, mindfulness and Being, make for an interesting addition to her practices of dance, yoga and teaching. She found a purpose in living life fully and encouraging others to do so.
Follow Eva on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/toomucheva/
When we think about the term „leader“ we usually imagine a CEO of the big company, the dean of the university or even the head of the country. But the truth is that the leader is anyone who is in the position to influence another person. We could say that leaders help others to do the right things. There is even a saying that „Leaders are people who do the right thing while managers are people who do things right“ (Professor Warren G. Bennis).
Leaders set direction and build an inspiring vision.
Leadership is about creating an inspiring vision of the future, motivating and inspiring people to engage with that vision and managing the delivery of the vision, often by building and strengthening the team that will reach the goal. But before you can effectively lead another person, you need to develop self-leadership.
Integral parts of self-leadership are conscious awareness, emotional intelligence, accountability, (self)compassion, optimism and many more.
Many operations of the mind take place below the level of conscious awareness. The conscious mind contains all the thoughts, feelings, cognitions, and memories we acknowledge, while the unconscious consists of deeper mental processes not available to the conscious mind. Much of human motivation takes shape beyond conscious awareness. Before we focus on influencing others, we need to develop a skill of influencing ourselves. This can be achieved with regular practice and self-discipline where we pay attention to internal processes. It is about becoming aware of our thoughts, words and actions.
Leaders are expected to motivate others so they need to understand their own “WHY“ when it comes to the vision of the project. In order to achieve that, they have to dig deeper into their inner world, into their intimate understanding of „Who am I?“, „Why am I here?“, „What is the purpose of my job?“ and „How my work adds value to the society/company/team project?“ First, it’s you who need to understand and contemplate on this and then there comes the part of engaging people. And people do not follow just because they are being said. People need to understand how their work adds value to bigger goals. The more they are aware of that, the more engaged they are.
All of this requires introspection, being aware of our core values and being able to stick to them no matter of all temporary obstacles we face. Jon Stewart explained this with a quote: “If you don’t stick to your values when you are being tested, they are not values. They are hobbies“.
Some people believe that leadership is about the power you have. One of the greatest leaders in our history, Martin Luther King Jr defined power as the ability to achieve purpose and effect change. Being a conscious leader means being aware of the way how power is used and for what. It is about making the members of our team stable and aware of themselves. Just because we tend to be happy and optimistic, that does not mean we should always feel only pleasant emotions. Awareness means being able to capture all our emotions, understand their role, accept them and regulate them in order not to become a slave of our feelings and moods.
Next thing is to let go of the illusion that we have the power to control everything.
Being optimistic means doing what we can, per our capacity, believe in positive outcome but accept the result when it is not what we wished for.
Shaping our team towards positivity means we need to develop stable people who accept themselves and may see their strengths and weaknesses in a realistic way without criticism and judgement. People shall get the opportunity for learning and development without nurturing competitive spirit or fear of failing. As soon as you turn to learn to consequences, learning shuts down because people become defensive. They care about evaluation, the score, the grade, and they focus on that rather than on the opportunity to learn and grow. In Google they did a survey and gave feedback to managers how their people evaluate them but without consequences. That is exactly why managers were willing to improve themselves. Giving people the opportunity to fail and learn is the biggest gift you can give them.
The last but not the least important thing is that awareness is not something you can achieve and maintain without returning to yourself every day and practising your role of witness to everything your mind creates.
We think that knowledge is half of a battle but it’s not. It’s not enough knowing what practice can make as more conscious and aware, it is important that you apply that into your daily routine.
Author: Sanja Stankovic
Sanja is a Sociologist with a career in Human Resources. Her hobby is empowering people through many humanitarian actions that she’s conducting with her volunteer team from the ACT Foundation. In the business environment, she strives to raise awareness of people on the importance of mindfulness, well-being and kindness. She believes in the power of personal responsibility as well as the possibility of changing environment by providing personal examples.
God’s grace can mean many things. I like to think of it as a gift we are given by the benevolent power that works in our life. Some might call it a blessing. In terms of recovery I sometimes feel grace is doing me a favor. Grace is giving me what I need at the time I need it.
I have had many challenges in my life to over come. A great deal of them have come as the result of growing up in a dysfunctional alcoholic household. At their best they include self defeating and unproductive thought processes, behaviors and coping mechanisms. At their worst they include abandonment, neglect and sexual, emotional and mental abuse.
I believe that it has been grace that has doled out the awareness of these challenges to me when I was in a place to deal with them. Meaning that I had the teachers, support, environment and spiritual, emotional and mental stability to deal with them. Not that all of that would make it easy but I was ready.
The other edge of the sword of grace is that I believe that it was also grace that kept me unaware of these challenges until I was ready. I still remember being 18 months clean in the fetal position on my couch in pain I did not understand let alone know where it was coming from.
I remember having three thoughts; use, kill myself or ask for help. I am so glad that I had a sponsor that had been working on his issues from childhood and had shared some of it with me. So I called him and my first teacher had appeared.
I remember thinking of awareness as a curse. Why oh why is that power that works in my life doing this to me. Things were going so well. Lucky for me that power is much more smarter than me.
So I chuckle to myself a little when I hear others talking their awareness as such a hindrance to their life and well being. Change is a byproduct of awareness. Without the awareness that something is not serving us why would we work to change it. When we come to understand this we can begin to look at awareness as a gift.
Becoming aware is just the beginning, its like a memo or announcement. Now we have a choice, do we heed the memo and chose to the the work to change or say thanks for the memo, I’ll file it for later. I don’t know about you but I have learned filing it for later doesn’t work for me. Now that the problem and the need for change has come to my conscious mind its like it won’t leave me alone. This brings me back to grace and my belief that I am ready and have all I need to work through anything that is needed to make the change. Am I afraid, unsure of the unknown or whether I have what it takes to do what needs to be done. I would be lying if I said no. But not to the point that it can paralyze me like it used to. I think that comes from my past experiences of doing the work and coming out on the other side. Knowing that I have learned to be OK without being OK , that as always it is a process, that it won’t last forever but most of all that it is a gift. That I am being given this opportunity to grow and heal because I am loved and knowing I have learned to love myself enough to do the work.
May all those in need learn that awareness can be a gift if you let it, that we are given an awareness because it is time to do the work and that we have all we need to do it even if we don’t see it.
Author: Paul Hellwig
Paul is a Spiritual Life Coach specializing the Healing of Childhood Wounding and Addictions Recovery. I am a recovering addict myself with over 25 years clean. I have spent the last 25 years of my life on a spiritual and healing journey and I am now dedicating my life to help others do the same.
healingbearlifecoaching.com / @bear_healing
How do we make the shift from “trying Oh so hard” to “just being”? In one common group counseling session, I noticed a recurring theme during the question-answer sessions, and it’s the same in all such group sessions. People ask: “please help me overcome anger”, and “in spite of resolving not to mind my wife’s nagging, I lose my temper after listening to her for some time,” and “I feel good for a few days after I attend your session and try to be joyful and happy, but I can’t keep it up for long”.
“The great awareness comes slowly, piece by piece. The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning.” ~ Anon
Does the above story from my counselling sessions sound familiar?
Usually in a moment of rare insight (or weakness), most of us often resolve to shun anger, envy, selfishness and henceforth be compassionate, loving and so on. When the higher calling beckons, we congratulate ourselves and decide to overflow with the milk of human kindness. For a while, we smile at everything and everybody, count to ten instead of blowing up, take deep breaths in times of stress, see the good side of people, and turn the other cheek when slapped. And most often, instead of acknowledgment and reciprocation of our goodness, we find that we are taken for granted and worse, taken advantage of.
It gets harder and harder to keep up the good act, and we reach break-point sooner or later. We then promptly slip back into our original, normal, sometimes nasty selves. Until we attend another of those counseling sessions, to start the game all over again. In the process, we are likely to end up feeling resentful, guilty, useless and unfit to pursue our spiritual goals.
Is it an occupational hazard of being a human being? Are we condemned to go through innumerable lifetimes making the same mistakes, to slip back easily into habitual behavior, incapable of taking up the challenge that evolution throws at us? Shall we ever be able to negotiate the enormous chasm between trying oh so hard and just being?
Oh so many dilemmas, but no easy answers. Since spiritual growth is the only agenda on the menu of human life, we have no choice but to embark on this journey. We need to take charge and do it right, though, sooner rather than later. Just like we consult a map to track the optimum route before embarking on a physical journey, we need to do the same with the spiritual journey as well.
Study the path taken by enlightened souls, internalize the teachings of spiritual masters and listen to our own conscience with sincerity. And take stock of the advantages and limitations of this journey, and how it can be accomplished well in the least possible time.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step, and you have taken it. You’ve realized that you need improvement! The very fact that you are aware that you are not perfect puts you far, far ahead of other beings in the path of evolution. It triggers the right process in you. You have decided to do something about your inadequacy – the next step is set it in motion. Somewhere you feel a discontent about life and ask yourself ‘what next?’
You have read and heard about the compassion of great spiritual beings, and you resonate with them. You yearn for that spiritual strength. You clamor to emulate their teachings, and do succeed to a certain extent. It might be only for a week, a day, or an hour, but you have already started earning brownie points! Your sheer willingness to change is your greatest strength. You are now firmly on the right path.
Oh, what pitfalls the journey has! The road, you realize, is anything but a super-duper highway on which you can zip across at 120 km/h. Why is it that the day you resolve to be patient with your child, she does something which is calculated to raise your temper? Or the day you decide to diet, your mom bakes the most delicious cake embedded with chocolate chips and nuts?
The smallest thing that you encounter seems to challenge you to break your resolve and retract totally. You need to literally grin and bear it to the limits of endurance to progress even a centimeter on the right path. Why? Because we are straining against a lifetime of conditioning, of putting ourselves first, of indulging our senses, of doing the easy thing. Great spiritual Teachers have called spiritual growth swimming against the current. It is difficult because it goes against our conditioned habitual instincts.
Liberation, Enlightenment, cresting the cycle of birth and death, total transformation, unleashing your highest potential.
The journey is hard but the opportunities priceless: the greatest prize of human life and the sole reason for our existence. No less! It’s worth all the pain and agonizing uncertainty of the journey? A million times over. So do not despair and Keep at it. It’s worth it when you reach journey’s end and experience that state of total happiness and freedom.
Imagine a state of peace and tranquility even if it is raining bankruptcies, tsunamis, accidents or job loss. Imagine being in a state of unconditional love towards one and all. Imagine giving and giving and giving – without wanting anything at all because you are so completely and totally fulfilled. Imagine total freedom from suffering – zero fear, anger, rage, hate, worry, doubt, resistances, inhibitions and so on. Imagine being free of the human condition-negativity.
You will no doubt be tested to your limit, and you’ll get knocked about mercilessly but in the end all that knocking will make you emerge as a diamond….a shiny priceless well sculpted diamond.
All of us are born to be in heaven by default, and it is open, for eternity! So book your place and level right now and get going. It might be useful, though, to carry a handy guide with tips for the spiritual trip.
Never buy vegetables from the roadside vendors – they always cheat with the weights; Never be lenient with your servants – they’ll take you for granted. This is how an average mind thinks; and if you listen to it, it will not let you pursue your spiritual goals either.
It’s necessary to be worldly-wise, but not to the point of disillusionment. You may be compelled to retract from your good intentions once, twice, maybe a hundred times – but The Divine trusts you, has given you a million chances so far to help you realize your divinity – so Never say never again.
…of others, as well as yourself. You may be a paragon of virtue, but of course your neighbor will still dump his garbage in your backyard. Spiritual Growth is all about the change in your response to situations, not change in situations themselves. Each situation and person in your life is put there to help you introspect and grow.
Be kind to yourself too, it’s not easy to change a lifetime of habitual behavior. That’s why spiritual masters insist on keeping the company of good people and good thoughts as aids that will not let you forget your ultimate purpose in life, and put you back on the path again and again. Reading elevating books for at least 15 minutes before going to bed every night is a great habit to inculcate. They help raise energy levels.
Man proposes and God disposes. The trying is left to us, and being happens by grace, and grace alone. But grace descends on one who is well and truly ready for it, and not a moment earlier. The yearning for spiritual growth needs to be as intense as the desperate yearning for air itself.
So, the path you have chosen for yourself may not be a cup of tea. That is why you need to recognize from which point you operate best – body, heart, or mind – and the Divine will help you reach itself from that point.
To kick start the process of spiritual growth, do good deeds. You might not feel the shift at first. But as outward deeds get gradually purified, the attitude will percolate into words and thoughts as well. Because only in the trying oh so hard will the just being eventually materialize. Meanwhile, don’t get so engrossed in reaching the destination that you forget to enjoy the journey.
She is the founder and writer of Positive Provocations, which features writing on positive thinking through healing the Mind, Body, Heart & Soul. She holds degrees in, and practices counseling psychology, motivational psychology, spiritual counseling, motivational speaking, holistic health and naturopathic medicine. Zeenat Merchant Syal is a spiritual traveler by passion, an eternal student and researcher in the school of life and all of its realities, including the fields of metaphysics and New Age thinking.
In today’s world, the very word and concept of Yoga is greatly misunderstood – Yoga can be used for fitness, toning of the muscles, balancing, relaxation and rejuvenation, as these are some of its beautiful effects, but it’s true purpose is far beyond that. Before diving into the topic of the true purpose of Yoga, let us briefly look into its history and the rich tradition that brought it forward to the present day.
BRIEF HISTORY OF YOGA
The word Yoga comes from Sanskrit ‘yug’, meaning to yoke, join, connect or unite – to unite with our Higher Self. Yoga can also mean “to attain what was previously unattainable” or “to cause change”.
The forefathers of Yoga were spiritual explorers/inner scientists, in search of the secrets of a healthy and truly happy life. These sages did not set out to put their bodies into pretzel positions or stand on their head. They were fueled by the idea that life has something deeper and more meaningful to offer if one is able to tune in to the soul’s purpose. While spending lengths of time in meditation and through careful observation of the ways of nature, they realized that sincere inner exploration is not easy. To start with, one needs a strong and supple body and sharp mental focus in order to prepare oneself for the dive within and deep inner cleansing. The complex system of postures and techniques that we now call Hatha Yoga was born from this observation. This goes to say that all the stretching and movement one does in Yoga was originally designed to prepare the practitioner to sit still and dive deep within effectively and effortlessly.
“Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah” is Patanjali’s famous definition of Yoga. In short, it means, “Yoga is the removal of the fluctuations of the mind”.
Chitta is mind, vrittis are thought impulses, nirodah is removal.
Although nobody can own Yoga, Patanjali is known as ‘the father of Yoga’ because he was the first to codify various Yoga teachings around 300 B.C. Throughout the centuries, yogis practiced intense and methodical investigation into their minds and looked deep within themselves to find the answers to life’s most pertinent questions. All in all, the Yoga that we get to practice today stems from an unimaginably rich tradition.
The benefits of Yoga are many. Yoga provides both, instant gratification and lasting transformation. True Yoga practice incorporates awareness in the practice of asanas (Sanskrit word meaning ‘steady pose’), pranayama breathing techniques, meditation and mantras. Moreover, it also teaches us how to incorporate awareness and purity at the level of thoughts, words and actions and assume responsibility for creating our own reality.
Yoga is much more than an exercise. The practice of Yoga allows students to achieve stillness in a world engrossed in chaos and to tap into the consciousness of the ‘inner witness’, the operating mode of our soul. In other words, Yoga students gradually learn how to rise above the pull of mind, emotions, and lower bodily needs and face any challenge of life with maturity. This lasting transformation is the promise of Yoga to all sincere practitioners.
METHODOLOGY & TRUE PURPOSE OF YOGA
Yoga practice is not so much about the skill but about the feeling and sincerity of practice. Yoga students/practitioners have to be taught how to really apply themselves during their Yoga practice and allow themselves to go beyond the mind and ego, becoming aware of every cell in the body vibrating in perfect harmony. Meditation and Yoga Nidra (or yogic sleep) done after one hour of Yoga asanas are of crucial importance and are considered essential in order to allow for the transformative results of Yoga. If a sponge is not left in water long enough, it will not absorb the water. In the same way, if one doesn’t allow some time to ‘absorb’ the effects of the Yoga asanas, the practice will be reduced to a mere exercise.
Awareness of each movement and utilization of mind’s power of ‘Sankalpa’ (Sanskrit word for ‘intention’) with which one moves the body while performing Yoga asanas is the key to a successful Yoga practice. Regular Yoga practice prepares our body to withstand higher energy and to cope with all the challenges on the path of one’s Self-Actualization and Liberation with a balanced mind.
Before starting the Yoga practice, one should acknowledge his/her body as a beautiful vessel of the soul and the most remarkably fine-tuned instrument with immense capabilities. We then invoke our Higher Self and set the intention behind all the asanas during the Yoga session. With mind fully present in each asana and breath utilized properly to help remove the blockages in the subtle meridians in our aura, the level of awareness and purity rises with each Yoga practice.
It is important to understand that lack of flexibility is associated with energy blockages in the nadis (energy meridians in the subtle body), and with samskaras (negative/painful impressions of the mind stored in the muscles (and subconscious mind), which add to the ‘luggage’ we carry unnecessarily). Yoga practice helps us to remove these blockages by working on our physical body, by consciously breathing through the stiffness in certain areas of the body. We hence start experiencing the all new lightness, learn to truly love our body as the vehicle of our soul, and come to experience the cause-less joy of our true Self.
The following points are essential for effective Yoga practice:
The primary objective of Yoga is to spread the message of love, peace, healthy living and harmony with nature starting with one’s own direct inner experience of this harmony and blissful lightness through the practice of Yoga. Aside from numerous benefits at the physical, emotional and mental level, the practice of Yoga leads to self-knowledge, i.e. knowledge of the truth of our being.
Yoga practice (sadhana) has the enormous potential to make us more conscious human beings. It requires, however, the willingness of the body, mind, heart and the will to align with the soul’s aspiration for purification and perfection.
In the following issues of The Awakening Times, I will share with you insights, methodology and benefits related to selected Yoga asanas in order to inspire you to benefit from the profound Yogic science and experience a lighter, more loving and more fulfilling way of life.
Author: Biba Mohan, certified yoga instructor