To allow the freedom and permission to learn to love yourself is an invitation to an awakened life. Being awake, is to be present, fully engaged, and experiencing who you are, who you are with, and what you are doing in a more connected way. It's a spiritual experience. One that creates space for acknowledging the beauty of creation, and how we approach our existence from a place of fullness and love. I have never felt more alive than I have since I started this journey to self-love. All the things I was running from (i.e. vulnerability, asking for help, feeling like I wasn't enough, etc) were actually my healing place. You may find that the very things you are afraid of, are actually the places you need to lean into the most. What if, spending time facing your fears, would eventually lead you to a place of graceful freedom? Would you lean in? If it meant becoming the best version of yourself? Let's explore this concept.
The poet Hafiz says, "Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I'd like to see you in better living conditions", quoted by Jack Kornfield in Oprah's new book, The Wisdom of Sundays. We cannot live an awakened life without dealing with our fears. To start, living an awakened life is to learn to be quiet with yourself, to be still. Present. That means taking time for self-care, something I've advocated for many times in prior blog posts. Morning meditation. Prayer. Taking a walk. Taking a breath. The focus is on being intentional with yourself, first, so that you learn what it takes to then be present in the world, with others, and in the things you are doing. In this quiet, stillness with yourself -- you learn valuable tools such as compassion and forgiveness. When we learn to be compassionate toward ourselves, we extend that same grace with others. Many of us cannot fathom being still with ourselves because we are afraid of what that silence will reveal about our internal thoughts. Do we feel inadequate? Are we self-loathing? Do we self-abuse? Do we listen more for the approval of others, than we do of ourselves? This manipulative and damaging rhetoric infiltrates the fear in our hearts, and keeps us from living an awakened life.
Here's a truth moment: for most of my life, I consistently lived in fear that I was always expected to be something for somebody else. I had to be the strong, responsible daughter for my single mother. I had to be the most successful daddy-less daughter I could be, to prove to my father that I didn't need him. I had to be the successful academic, as my grandmother always expected me to be. I had to be relentless type-A leader, to please my boss. The fear was metastasized by the idea that all of these 'expectations' would require for me to be comfortable with a certain level of attention. I got a lot of attention, sometimes unwanted. I'm still working on changing this programming, but I'm happy to say that I'm far ahead of the path today than I was 2-3 years ago. Fear is debilitating. It can keep you stuck, trapped, like a prison in your own body. We must face it in order to live an awakened life.
As I faced my fears, and learned to extend compassion and forgiveness to myself, it became easier to be present with my stillness and in turn be present with everything and everyone else. Now, I am facing a new fear -- the fear of my inner-peace, my new life, being interrupted or damaged by those of us who aren't ready to heal. Being protective of my vibe, my spirit and my peaceful environment; I find myself being less and less patient with anything or anyone that can disrupt this state of mind that I've worked so hard to attain. Can anyone relate? It's like when you finally organize your garage after years of clutter, dirt and unused junk piled up -- only to have someone come over and mess it all up again. Frustrating, right? Well, that's the place I am in today. I just want love, peace, tranquility, compassion, forgiveness, and grace in my atmosphere. I realize this is a difficult request amidst all the hate and chaos in society today -- but I am referring to places closest to me like my heart, my spirit, and my home. While I realize that my stubborn desire to maintain the peace in my life, I also understand that if I cannot be around the broken, the sick and the hurting -- my purpose CANNOT be fulfilled in this self-love movement.
So here's what I endeavor to do as we close the year: I am going to pray for and meditate on the ability to balance both....to continue cultivating peace and love in my heart, spirit and home...and still garner the patience and courage it will take for me to effectively sit and be present with the broken, sick and hurting people of the world. I trust God to use me in this capacity, to reach his children with a message of hope, love, and healing. I cannot do that, if I choose to stay in my own little 'peaceful bubble', only letting in those whom I trust will not disrupt it. That is not a giving and hospitable approach. The test of spiritual awakening and healing, is the ability to see the brokenness in others and not run for the hills. Is it not? So this is my own challenge I will have to face.
What about you? What are the fears keeping you from an awakened life? What are you running from? We all have something that gets in the way of our peace, our joy, our ability to forgive, to move forward, to walk in love. It's important to identify what it is, speak it, and deal with it in the ways we discussed earlier: prayer, meditation, stillness, presence, compassion and forgiveness. The tools we need to overcome these fears is in our hands. We simply need to stop running away from them, and find our desire for a more peaceful and present existence. This work is important. You just never know who you will be blessing with your healed spirit. Your journey could be the invitation that will lead others to a life of self-love as well.
Peace & blessings,