Recently while taking a break at a shopping mall, I witnessed an energetic toddler running rampant amongst the lower shelves of a bookshop.
Leaving a trail of destruction behind him, he raced ahead like a runaway train. For most inquisitive toddlers the sensory experience must have been amazing. Though much to the relief of the shop assistant, it was short lived, as Mum was just three steps behind and closing in fast. And, after a quick scuffle, order was again restored.
I sat there for a moment as the boy was being led away and my attention turned to my ‘to do’ list. Heather had just asked me a couple of days earlier to do a follow up piece to her ‘Which Self Do I Take To Yoga’ article, but inspiration wasn’t exactly knocking on my door. As usual, I was putting myself under so much pressure to come up with a mind-blowing idea that nothing seemed good enough. My approach to writing articles is a chaotic one at the best of times. I usually entertain so many ideas and themes all at once, that there seems to be a runaway toddler loose inside me too.
I peered back into the now deserted bookstore and realized the internal struggle I was having with my article was being reflected right here in front of me. The bookstore, with an abundance of resources to draw from, now resembled my mind. I observed these dynamics for a moment when a little light turned on inside me; suddenly everything began to slow down. I could see now that my enthusiasm to write was in the hands of an ‘immature self’ who wasn’t really going to get me anywhere. Just like the toddler, he was running around mindlessly grabbing themes and concepts while my doting conscience followed close behind wondering how to make some sense of the mess! I began to observe the patterns, exposing the ways I sabotage myself from communicating thoughts and feelings on paper. In person and during workshops, I’m quite the performer; confidant and comfortable putting across my point of view. But, while preparing to express on paper, another ‘me’ takes over. Some of these manifestations include, “I’m just not smart enough”. “No-one will read this”. “It’s not perfect, so why bother?” “What was I trying to say again?” etc, etc.
By now I could see that what I needed more than anything was to allow a far more conversant part of me to emerge. An ally whom, without crushing my spirit, could bring the best out of me with the littlest amount of fuss. I let myself become conscious of these dynamics purely by observing why there was so much resistance to getting to the point I’m at right now. The clues were all there but I wasn’t doing anything about them, preferring to beat myself up instead of responding. Each one of these resistances could be easily enough dealt with, though the major problem was the way I was rushing the process and not allowing greater wisdom to guide me.
As simple as it might sound, taking time to see which part of ‘you’ is directing your awareness is a powerful and effective technique. To ‘Know Thy Self’, is essential, because the persona we entertain the most is the window through which we perceive our world. This is a concept that I will discuss further in my next article. For now, I will introduce this theme through the words of Ghandi, who said “become the person you want your world to be,” and then demonstrated this by being true to his conscience. My true conscience (and yours) has nothing to do with being spiteful, egotistical, needy, vengeful, inconsiderate or petty, so why do we allow ourselves to be so? The power to observe oneself gives you the room to catch these parts of you in action, but more importantly to then do something about it! These exercises will help you to not only become more conscious of your ‘selves’, but will help you to access your higher self, making better choices, decisions, and seeing more clearly your direction in life.
5 ways to observe yourself and become more conscious in everyday life:
- Listen without judgement. Try not to analyse, judge, criticize, or formulate your own next thought while you are listening.
- Wait 3 seconds before engaging your mouth.
- Don’t initiate any unnecessary conversation (ie: talking just to fill the void).
- Try to determine which ‘self’ is perpetrating a particular habit (ie: biting your nails, gambling, overeating, worrying, gossiping).
- Observe your tendency to take certain circumstances too seriously. When you find yourself dwelling in worry or concern, take a “nature break”; stand barefoot in the grass, wash your hands and feet in cold water, close your eyes and turn your face to the sun, or go hug a tree. Observe your response as nature soothes your concern.
Amazing! Amidst all this self-reflection I still got my article done. C.
By Christopher Lipscomb. First Published in the Mind Body Messenger newsletter 2003