Often times, the most difficult part of transitioning to a spiritual path, such as Yoga, is letting go of our ego habits, and some of our old “friends”. Many of these habits seem so close to our core, we mistake them for ourselves. Letting go doesn’t feel like an option, even when they are dysfunctional habits that are not serving us.
Along my path, time spent in meditation, learning to see through the eyes of the Observer has slowly revealed to me that my ego habits are not the true me. They are added components, seeds planted by others and the world. I am learning to recognize these habits and call them by names; “self-criticism”, “self-doubt”, “worrying”, “trying to control the future” and many, many more. I call these old friends because in a weird way they were my friends that I collected as a child to help protect me from pain and shame. I learned how to criticize myself before others could so that the sharp sting of criticism would be slightly lessened if I had spoke it first. I learned to doubt myself so that I wouldn’t go out of my comfort zone and risk the pain of making mistakes and failing. I learned how to overthink and attempt to control my future by worrying, obsessing and manipulating rather than truly living. I did this to try and avoid uncertainties, uncertainties that life brings regardless of my efforts.
On the surface it may seem an easy thing to do, letting go of things like “self-criticism” and “worrying”. In theory, it is obvious that these types of mental habits do not serve us. The truth is I created these old “friends” to help me cope with and avoid pain as a child. As a child I did not have the cognitive or physiological ability to stay grounded amidst turmoil, and I was not fully taught to find my self-worth from within. As a child it is easy and natural to take what someone older than you says as truth. In this way, many untruths become stored in our consciousness and subconsciousness as “truth”, and so our reality becomes skewed. As an adult I have given myself the gift of curiosity to find a greater, more compassionate Truth and dispel the many untruths that landed on my young ears and heart.
And so I read books that describe ways to honor myself, accept pain and let go of old patterns that aren’t serving me. Anger and Understanding Our Mind by Thich Nhat Hanh, Bhagavad Gita, Be Love Now by Ram Dass, The Book of Secrets and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga by Deepak Chopra, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle – to name a few.
And though I have read and re-read these and more, those patterns cling to me, and it feels like an old life preserver that no longer fits me, like an old friend that I am not sure how to truly let go of. But the path is becoming clearer, and the negative self-talk is no where near as loud and demanding as it once was. The more time I spend witnessing the patterns, the easier it is to let go of them go.
I honor you, old friends and release you from your role. I no longer need to be saved from pain, mistakes and shame. Pain and mistakes are my teachers. Shame is an untruth. The truth is that my voice is worth listening to, my heart is worth seeing and I am worth loving. And so I will.
I am now finding my self-worth, not in the words and actions of others, but as my inherent gift as a child of this universe. Criticism and judgement from others and myself may fall to deaf ears as I tune to the love radiating from Mother Earth. I am now certain that mistakes are part of this beautiful life, and that my making them is a sign of me living, not failing. I am now aware that attempting to control the future is really none of my business, I am a being of the present moment and my power lies only in the present. The fruits of my actions are given to the Divine Dance of the Universe. OM Shanti
photo by my love @godaydream