This week's intention has centered around the third law in the 12 laws of transformation.
Step out of your comfort zone. This is one of my favorites. I challenge myself daily to step out of my comfort zone, because I know it can be difficult but will make me stronger, more resilient, andI will grow.
This is not my first blog on this subject. So I thought I would look at it from a new space. All of my previous blogs reference yoga. How yoga has taught me how to do this, which is still very true. But, it’s not just yoga that has taught me about this concept, it is also the work I have done in coaching. I have spent many hours coaching myself through the process of self-inquiry and through doing the “Work”. If you are familiar with the “Work”. You are familiar with Byron Katie. Byron Katie is a renowned author and public speaker on self-healing and personal transformation. She defines inquiry as “a way to end confusion and to experience internal inner peace, even in a world of apparent chaos. Above all else, inquiry is about realizing that all answers we ever need are always available inside us.”
With a world filled with so much chaos how do we even begin to listen to what are inner voice is communicating. It starts with getting quiet. For me taking 5-10 minutes to do a thought purge each day. Write down any and all thoughts for five minutes straight, without any constraints, whatever comes to mind write. From this list I am able to identify where my thoughts are in that moment. I am able to see if they are or are not serving me. I then have the awareness which gives me the power to choose whether or not to keep them or let them go.
It is the process of inquiry around my thoughts that is the catalyst to create and manifest change for my life. Inquiry creates a space to examine one’s own thoughts. The first two questions we ask ourselves, Is it ture? Are you certain it’s true? It is often in this first stage that I have come to learn that my thoughts are not even 100% true, they are my version. I encourage you right now, identify what you are thinking, ask yourself is it True? If your answer is yes, ask yourself again are you 100% certain this thought is true? I have found out for myself and working with clients that it is almost never 100% true. It is from this space where inquiry begins, and stepping out of the comfort zone starts. This work is not comfortable, but it is transformational. Through a series of questions, and turnarounds I have gained great awareness into my own thinking. It has been scary and upsetting at times. However, it has given me my power back! It has shown me how I have the power to change my thinking. Just the other day I had a thought, “that is so unfair why not me?” It knew right way this thought was not serving me, as I wrote it out I recognized how child like it sounded. Right away I did my inquiry around the thought. The inquiry exposed a wound that many of us struggle with, “I am not good enough”. However, instead of allowing this thought to linger and fester into feelings of pity, anger, or sadness, I was able to do a turn around, and change my thoughts to I am good enough, with these thoughts I was able to see the the truth, that not being chosen for this specific job, had nothing to do with my abilities. When we change our thoughts we are able to change how we feel, which changes how we act or react in our lives. It is a daily practice of stepping out of my comfort zone. To live in default will only keep my life status quo. I’m not saying that this is bad, but if you want to be more than status quo, if you want to live life big, then it takes a willingness to look at your thoughts from a place of compassion, and then inquire about them. This is hard work, but I believe worth it.
Life is 50% good and 50% bad. So with this being the case, why not step out of your comfort zone. Knowing that at least 50% of the time, it will be good, and the other 50% will be a chance to learn, and to grow.
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Be willing to come apart. For years the thought of this sounded terrifying! To give up the image that I have my shit together. To allow others to see me as I really am, to drop the masks I wear each day, and to be completely vulnerable, seemed overwhelming, terrifying, and at the same time I also remember this idea seemed exciting. If I were to allow myself to just be me, would others still like me? Would I have any friends, or would I end up alone and isolated.
Yes, these are some of the thoughts that went through my mind.
Then I decided, if this scared me, then I had to take a deeper look into these thoughts. Where were they coming from? And why when I speak them out loud do they sound ridiculous. Why wouldn’t people like me for being me. So, I got quiet and began to ponder where these thoughts were originating from. I was able to pinpoint a memory from my childhood where I felt unaccepted, different, left out, and completely humiliated. On the school bus home in kindergarten another child began making fun of me for being Jewish, screaming out that I had horns, that there was something wrong with me for being who I was.
My mentor and teacher has taught me to pause, and to give myself permission to experience feelings that rise up when you bring yourself back to a painful period in your life. He says when you allow yourself to feel, is when we began to heal. Feeling is so hard for me, I push it away, avoid it at any cost. But, I have learned this technique does not work, it has only created numbness and apathy. So this time I decided to sit and stay with these feelings as I knew this would be the only way to truly grow as a person and understand this fear of being vulnerable. Staying with the feelings created an opening for empathy and compassion to my younger self, and I acknowledged to continue to react from this place would be child like, and it was time let this story go. This story that being different was unacceptable. The question I propose in class to my clients. what’s possible if you could let this thought or belief go? Often my gut reaction is I don’t know. But, I have learned I do know, I just have to seek deep inside myself for the answers. The answer for me was self-acceptance and to have the confidence to be vulnerable, even if it meant I might not be accepted by everyone.
To come apart for me is to take a deeper look at the self, and own my self-limiting thoughts and beliefs. To recognize the effect they are having on my life and how these thoughts are impacting my feelings and my actions. It is said, that the way we treat others is a direct reflection of how we treat ourselves. Therefore, if we are unable to accept the self, then it would explain why there is so much hate in our world.
Ahimsa is the first of the yamas. Ahimsa means respect for all living things and avoidance of violence toward others. To be a yogi, to practice yoga is not just doing a set of physical postures, but to also follow the other seven limbs of yoga. To practice Ahimsa is to be kind and accepting of others, I believe this starts with each of us. As we develop more self-acceptance it is reason to believe based on modern psychology that we would become more accepting of others. So why not dig deeper, look at yourself, be willing to come apart, and let go of the thoughts that are not serving you, replace them with a new way of being. Together we can make our world a kinder place.
The first of the 12 laws of transformation is “Seek the Truth”. This weeks classes have been focused around this first law. What does it mean in reference to transformation? It is my understanding the process of seeking the truth involves the process of self acceptance and self-love. So the question often asked, how do we do this? How do we transform to this place?
For me this was a very slow process, that has taken place over many years.
I believe the process begins with mindfulness. In yoga asana we develop mindfulness around the physical body and the breath. In meditation we are invited to develop awareness around our thoughts. To begin to observe our thoughts without engaging in them, without judgement. For many of us this is a difficult challenge. To witness without engagement or judgement. This takes lots of practice and patience.
If you take 10 minutes each day to sit, breath, and observe your thoughts, I believe you are providing yourself with the opportunity for self-inquiry to begin to dive deeper into the process of seeking the truth.
What does your inner voice say? Have you sat down to listen? I have. For a long time, mine was harsh, and non-forgiving. She was at times down right mean! She would tell me for many years I was fat, ugly, not smart, the overall theme was “not good enough’. Everything I did was incorrect, wrong, “not good enough”. This way of thinking became my default. A default that left me feeling less than. A thinking that created a lack of self-confidence, and high level of anxiety. Then a teacher of mine said, would you talk to your best friend the way you speak to yourself?
At first I was stumped. Talk to myself. I don’t talk to myself. But then he went on to speak more about getting quiet and listening to the voices in your head. Curious, so I did. I began to sit, in silence and listen. This was the start of an awakening for me. Oh my gosh, she is awful. How could I be so unaware. I began to become more and more aware of the voices in my head, and did not like what they had to say. So now what do I do? I seeked out self-help books, meditation books, anything that would have the answer. Almost everything I came across said all you need is the awareness, and from that you will change. I couldn’t believe this. But over time I have learned to a degree it is true. From this awareness I was able to begin to change my way of thinking. When my inner voice was and still is being unkind, instead of believing her, I am able to acknowledge her and then reframe my thinking.
Through the process of self-inquiry I have learned to rewrite my story about myself. Develop a new truth. From this new truth, I have created a confident self-loving person. A person that is proud of who she is and not afraid to be challenged or face her fears. I believe this process begins with getting still. Listen to what your inner voice is saying. And then question it. If you are unsure if it is true, seek help to get clear, Discover if your story is serving you. If it’s not, it’s never too late to create a new one. I believe we are each on this earth for a reason, and it is not be small. It is to be big, to shine our light, and in order to to do this we must first accept and love ourselves for who we are and who we are not. Perfectly imperfect.