Do you really feel alive?
Since we are born, we are educated to feel immersed in a competitive society, somewhat complicated, that encourages us to strive on our survival instinct to be able to resist in this asphalt jungle that we have created.
We live facing the gallery. Looking outdoors. Where it gives the feeling that feelings do not matter and competitiveness is our most important rule. We break ourselves and they encourage us by pretending that “we can deal with everything”. Now, in addition to the fashion of positivism, we really believe it: “You are the best” “Today you will do great” “You will succeed” … Beware, which has its reason for being, but the problem is that many of us live immersed in this pink cloud that, with best intentions, harms us more than it benefits us. When things do not go as we have imagined, frustration comes and they have not taught us how to manage it.
We work to earn money, we buy the latest fashion electronic device to position ourselves in a place of reference. But, then never, never, never is enough. When we have the phone, we want the car, when we have the car, we need a big house, when we have the house, we need a vacation to a more exotic country … And so we live, exhausting ourselves and demonstrating how valid we are in a position of work that, in most of the occasions, squeezes us to the point of wanting to get home and not want to think more about it.
And, of course, with this example that we give, in addition, we give ourselves thoroughly rewarding our children with frantic extra-curriculars that also leave them exhausted. All because it seems essential and really necessary that, at age 6, children already know languages, swim perfectly, compete in judo, make complicated mathematical algorithms and compete in exhibitions of rhythmic gymnastics or weekend soccer games.
Speaking of the weekend, many of us continue the frantic rhythm also at the social level, so as not to stand still … “Imagine if I find myself with my thoughts and my fears. What am I going to do then? … “
But if you have been lucky and have managed to rest, the week starts again, monday morning, again the rush, the traffic jams, the anger … We are running everywhere to try to fulfill the endless list of tasks. The result is that we arrive home exhausted and, for many of us, as I mentioned, our second job begins, the upbringing and, what am I going to tell you, you don’t already know? We end up paying our tensions and frustrations with our children.
Really, do you want to continue like this? Really, does this kind of life fulfill you?
From here, I propose to start a different path. A path that, especially at the beginning, will not be easy either, because it means unlearning to relearn our behaviors, our automatisms, our conditioning. But, I can assure you that you are going to initiate a path of fulfillment. A path with meaning.
Nor do I assure you that from now on you will not have more downers and live in a pink life. It won’t be like that at all. What does happen is that from this place maybe your falls last less. With time even, you will know how to prevent them and without a doubt you have more tools to face them.
One of the great Buddhist teachings reminds us that: “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. That’s what I mean. We can not avoid certain events happening around us, but we can learn to manage our response to what happens to us. Because we do not have to define ourselves by everything that has happened to us in life, if not, in the way we know how to manage it. It is a path of ascending evolution.
The path of conscience invites you to be, let’s say, a bit rebellious. Do not agree to everything the system tells us. Do not do everything they tell us. But we are not being evasive. Because it’s what we tend to do. Fight, war or evade so as not to face reality. No, is not that.
Rather than that, I’m talking about a personal, internal journey that you can only go through with your own style. To tell the truth, right now I can not tell you how this trip is going to be, because you are going to mark it. What will matter will be that you learn to listen to you, to feel and respond as best you feel to you, to your body.
It’s about discovering yourself and living based on what your most essential self needs. Not the character that you have formed. Neither the character that the others want you to be. If not, something more essential, basic, pure and innate in us that manifests itself through our fears, our reactions, our anger. They all talk about you.
And in the event that these words have begun to penetrate you and you are considering to start looking for this inner self, I will tell you that it is very difficult to do it alone. Going hand in hand with a professional is more than advisable. Although I will also tell you that you are going to do 98% of the work.
The therapists are there as a mirror to provide experiences that help you reflect what is happening to you. Not so much the reaction itself, but the origin of that reaction. So, by discovering the beginning of the skein of the thread, you will be able to understand yourself better and better understand your life, your relationships. I can assure you that everything is much more logical than it seems, what happens is that we live somewhat like asleep and that makes us not realize why these things happen to us. Which leads us to blame the others for our misfortunes and we position ourselves in a victim role. Believe me, I speak from experience. But, the moment you internally decide to own your life, you decide to take a step forward, however minimal it is towards your own sense, then the changes occur. Now that is something magical and special.
To shed light on your life, is to raise awareness in your daily tasks, moment by moment. It is a slow awakening before your own life. You do not need to suddenly start eating healthy, exercise every day and recite mantras when you get up. Maybe this will come with time … but for now, what I propose is something as simple and accessible as contacting with your breathing. So simple that it is difficult.
Mindfulness is the english word used to translate sati, a pali language term that denotes consciousness, attention and remembrance (Siegel and Cols., 2009). John Kabatt-Zinn states that mindfulness means “to pay attention in a special way: intentionally, in the present moment, without judging.” While Guy Armstrong explains it in a simpler way by saying that mindfulness is “knowing what you are experiencing while you are experiencing it. “
When we are able to stop, with all that implies and simply concentrate all our attention on the air we inhale and exhale, something changes. In fact, I invite you to do it right now, before continuing reading. For a second, close your eyes, feel how the air enters your nose, as it runs through your body to reach the lungs and maybe even reach your stomach, then return to the same route to exit.
Congratulations, this first conscious breathing can be the beginning of a great change in you. Because the moment you stop, breathe and observe that you breathe, you are doing an exercise that you can only do from the present. And there’s the key, it’s about bringing presence to your life, not escaping from it. As the teacher Eckart Tolle says, “life only happens in the present” and the legendary musician John Lennon said “life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”.
So breathing can become your great anchor to keep you in a state of presence. I call them mindfulness pills and it’s about finding moments during your journey where you can stop for a minute, breathe, feel. This is the first link of a great ascension to the top. Stop and breathe. Test it. With each pill you can extend the stop time and if you feel like it, at the end of the day you can write down in your notebook what you have observed in each “pill that you have taken”.
You may have sometimes found yourself distracted by a problem, or by judging your colleagues or anticipating an event that will come soon… breathing brings you back to a state of presence that ultimately will, rather than react impulsively, you are able to give yourself an internal space to observe, integrate and respond.
But always from the consciousness, from a different level than you were at the time of the conflict. If not, it will mean that you have not learned from the experience and you will see how, sooner or later, the same story repeats itself. Maybe with different characters, with another scenario, but your internal feeling, your emotions and your reactions will be the same, again and again.
Jung said that “what does not become conscious, manifests itself in our lives as destiny.”
It’s up to you. You make your rhythm. Believe it or not, you and only you are the owner of your life.
Now it’s time to take the reins and decide where you gallop.