Have you ever given yourself two weeks before beginning a new job to transform into a brand new you? As my sister says, it’s an overzealous attempt at mind-bending. Two-week vacation anyone? Powering through the workload required just to make leaving your desk even possible is a feat unto itself. Let alone, attempting to cram a year’s worth of decompression into less time than it takes to read a good book.
Retrospect makes the perfect guide and it’s only after taking a look back, that I can appreciate how a five-month trip to reinvent my life has almost completed its third and final year. Stepping away from my career, this was certainly not what I imagined. The vision in my head was more like a short, albeit enchanting, sabbatical to India and then gracefully gliding into a new role, donning a new persona fashioned by Zen, or something of the like.
It’s now clear that transformation was not what I craved; it was the basketful of goodies at the end of the road I was after. The efforts and patience involved in authentic change don’t ever sound nearly as sexy as the results.
Each of us possesses wisdom stronger and more powerful than we could ever imagine. But even the most altruistic of ambitions when layered overtop conditioned mentality, cannot possibly create an ideal environment for authentic transformation. Please read this again — slowly.
What does this mean? It means that if we attempt to dye an already colored cloth, the results will never be pure. Ever. But for most of us wishing to embark on a new chapter in our lives it’s not a matter of purity. We’d merely like to shake the stuff that’s holding us back and feel confident about the direction we’re heading.
Wherever you go, there you are.
A change of scenery — a holiday, or even a new start in a different city may present a sparkling and sometimes necessary means to break out of our normal routines. But unless we are using these opportunities to begin imparting lasting changes, have we not merely modified the backdrop?
Habitual patterning will eventually surface. So how is it that we go about removing these colors from our mental fabric? There are numerous methods. However, just as important as understanding how — is understanding what, we’re trying to accomplish?
We’re attempting to discover the structure and foundation of our belief systems. It’s the basis for our actions, feelings and emotions and it’s the reason we don't feel fulfilled. The situations in our lives merely create the catalyst for our reactions, which are solely based on how we view ourselves and the world around us. If we can learn to understand these views and to some extent, their origination, we can then determine whether we choose to accept their validity within our lives.
This sounds very clinical so I’ll provide a very personal example. Please keep in mind I did things backwards, beginning the practice of mindfulness and meditation without first understanding why. Almost a decade ago I began listening to my thoughts and quickly discovered a common thread throughout — namely me. What am I going to get; what am I going to do; what am I going to buy. Me, me, me, me, me.
What I began to slowly comprehend is that I was self-centered. I was arrogant. I was angry and I would have rather been envied than loved. It was pretty ugly and I was appalled, humbled and distraught. I was also relieved. For this at least meant I was no longer ignoring these aspects of who I'd become and habitually acting upon them.
So when I talk about developing traits like forgiveness, love, caring and compassion it’s only because I have been there and know we are all capable. This doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy, but it is possible — if this is what we wish.
There are also very important reasons why I continue shaking the mindfulness tambourine and it’s not because I think we should all hold hands singing rounds of Kumbaya together. It’s because we, as a society, are a mess. We’re taught to look outside of ourselves for solutions and the mass marketing machine of which we are a part, plays on our ego ensuring this doesn’t change.
It’s exhausting. Life is exhausting. We want (most of us anyway) more peace, less blah, blah, blah and a more grounded sense of being and purpose. But we’re continually going at it with the same set of mental constructs. We dress it up a little differently, color it a different brand and viola ~ instant lifelong happiness.
If we want to move past our neuroses and develop better mental and physical habits it’s up to us, individually, to make the choice to do so. It’s time we pull up our big-boy pants and move on. We’ve got no choice but to use life’s lessons if we wish to become a better version of ourselves. If we continue decorating our issues with the latest fad in fashionable quick-fixes, accepting our inability to change or assigning blame to others it’s never going to happen.
BUT — If day by day, we move with the intention of developing ourselves, guess what happens?
But, we have to move, we have to breathe and we have to step — with this intention. Simple as it sounds, if we wake up, read ten to fifteen minutes of something we’ve pre-determined is our roadmap, follow it up with a ten minute meditation and then get on with our day, this is almost enough. It’s then up to us to be mindful of our thoughts, feelings, speech and actions.
If we do this with intention, every day, we’re bound to change. It doesn’t involve chanting, incense, prayer or standing on our head. It involves the desire to relax into ourselves. Wishing to become a better person isn’t spiritual; it’s human. Following through on this desire, is however divine.
~ by Christine Fowle (Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India)