Take a moment and remember an experience where you or someone you know were completely filled with joy and happiness. Recall what it felt like to be there, the smells that may have been present, the people and whatever else comes to mind. Immerse your self in that memory for as long as you can before continuing reading.
There are few things that are more important than establishing self love as a regular place of existing. Depending on your upbringing, the concept may even sound like a bad idea. I like to think of being in a place of self love as the foundation for any spiritual or emotional journey. Without it your vision/perception will be distorted, and you most likely will misinterpret teachings and information.
It’s easy to get lost in the hustle of daily life and even easier to look outside of your self for relief and fulfillment. It may even seem like it’s the norm to exist in a place where there’s no connection to relief and fulfillment and “that’s just how it is”. That’s why it’s essential to practice existing in a place of fulfillment and full self acceptance… We need to counter all the time we spend telling ourselves the opposite.
It’s important to acknowledge that our modern culture doesn’t make it easy for us to exist in that place and that we need to actively work to counter that. There are many facets in our day to day life that would keep us looking outside of ourselves and to products, places or emotional experiences. Even though the internet has connected us to more people and perspectives, it also makes it easier to disconnect from our own experience of reality.
Noting that, the choice is ours. We have the ability in any moment to connect with ourselves and break the cycle. Even when you’re not consciously choosing to, you’re still making a choice. This is why it’s so important to reflect on yourself and existence in a way that helps bring the unconscious into our conscious awareness.
Meditation, yoga, dance, breathing are all great exercises to get into the present moment and shed light on the things we hide from our awareness. Anything that gets you into your body and out of your head will help ground you. Nature is one of the most powerful tools to find some respite from the insanity of the day to day grind. Even if you’re in an urban environment, tapping into little pieces of nature you can find around you will help you immensely.
Carl Jung said “consciousness is a ship on the sea of the unconscious”. That speaks to the vastness of the power the things we cannot see in ourselves. When we practice self reflection, we become aware of some of the details of that vastness. Even after a lifetime of that practice though, there will still be aspects that will remain unconscious.
Luckily, we are not out to conquer the unconscious and eliminate it. We are looking to find harmony and a healthy relationship with it. Part of finding that harmony is through training it. One of the most effective ways to train the unconscious is through repetition. Marketers have known this for years. This is why you get junk mail from the same people over and over. It’s known that most people won’t take action until they see something at least 8-10 times.
It’s important to understand the difference that lies between consciousness/intellect and our unconscious. When we learn of a new idea or thought, our intellect can grasp and assimilate those things very quickly. I’m sure you’ve experienced that when it comes to any New Years resolutions you’ve had. There are things to change that you think will benefit your life and then make a list of the ones you want to bring into your life. If there was no unconscious, this would be all it takes. Fortunately, it’s not all it takes. It takes interfacing with the unconscious.
On a simple level, you could take all of this information and say that all that’s necessary is to just stick with it and have more willpower. That misses a big component of what I’m getting at. Many times the things we choose to practice or change about our lives are not serving us. We may think if I just have more money, if I looked different, if if if. You may be able to find the discipline and willpower to make these things a reality. The question would be then, “Am I fulfilled, am I content, is this true satisfaction and happiness”? Or does it lead to more “ifs”?
I find there’s a common misconception that happiness/fulfillment is a place you get to sometime down the road. It’s actually a choice, a conscious decision to find the joy and contentment in the moment. That’s not to say that every moment will be joyful and exactly the way you want it, but it speaks to the ability to shift your own life versus looking outside of yourself to find it.
Let’s just take a moment and do a brief practice that is helpful to cultivate fulfillment.
First, find a place that’s as free from distractions as possible and get comfortable. You can be seated or lying down and you can use pillows, cushions or blankets to support yourself so that you can relax your body.
Now, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths; breathing in through the nose, and out through the mouth. With each exhale, relax deeply. After a few breaths, change the breathing so you’re breathing in and out through the nose. If that’s not accessible, part the lips slightly to let a little air in through the mouth.
Allow the belly to rise and fall easily and gently. Let your body and mind get as still as possible. Spend at least 10 breaths like this allowing the breath to flow easily and smoothly through your body.
Continue breathing in this way and staying relaxed. As thoughts and feelings come into your awareness greet them with a loving response. If the thoughts are about you personally or other people or events around you, greet them in the same way, with love and compassion.
Notice your reaction to this practice. Many times, there will be a reaction to the thought of greeting everything in this way. Be loving to the reaction as well. The thoughts are just that, thoughts. They ebb and flow just like the ocean and tides. Your reaction to them is the practice, and choosing love and compassion as a reaction is fully within your ability. With that said, it is a practice and it may not come easily at first so be patient and kind with yourself.
Stay here for at least 5 minutes or longer. Before opening your eyes, notice how you feel physically, emotionally and mentally. If you feel compelled to make notes of your experience, take time to write them down.
Don’t look for a specific outcome in this practice. This is a practice of shifting your perspective and beginning to training the unconscious to operate differently, and practicing takes time and repetition. Try this practice for at least 10 times as often as possible and see what changes for you.
Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts or questions.