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What I Think of Me is My Business

Question: I often feel caught between what feels like two distinct ways of being: the space of mindfulness and meditation, of focusing on my inner life, and the responsibility I feel to be and stay informed and to be active in working to make our shared world a better place. Too much energy focused on staying informed and taking action seems to blunt my sensitivity to and my ability to be in living awareness of my soul and its journey. - Anonymous

What I think of me is my business. What others think of me is not my business. How easily the border between these two statements is often blurred. I find it easier to articulate the ME emerging when I gift myself silence day after day. This 15-minute daily window grants me an awareness of my wisdom ME that was hidden under my busy and reactive mind.

The practice of silence has helped my mind relax. Is this an awakening process? Maybe. I know this wisdom presence is always with me, and it’s been difficult to articulate her because my mind has preoccupied me.

Every breathing human on this Earth has a wisdom presence no matter what awareness they have. Where the mind is focused is a key and what intention is activated in our awareness is another key.

I love teaching Susan Jeffers’ Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway principles because it addresses the power of the mind and how easily the mind preoccupies us with its worries and concerns. The mind can control us with convincing evidence all based on the mind’s experience. I know because I bought into my inner story for years and years until I was unable to function.

In 2014 after the death of my daughter, I was a broken woman. My breaking open allowed me to uncover a part of me I couldn’t describe in a prose poem The Hairy Beast. Here’s an excerpt:

"The beast stands in a corner facing the wall. She’s very hairy, unkempt with wild eyes. People who don’t know her think she’s mean and uncaring, selfish and cruel. People who know her understand. Pulling back the camera lens one can get a little farther away from the abruptness of her pain and see a fuller picture. She’s a mom of two girls and functions fairly normally in the real world. She’s got a great sense of humor and knows when wit is called for. She has lots of friends and acquaintances and loves to sing. Not many people know the beast that lurks under her skin for she keeps her in check away from curious eyes. I never really understood she lurked so near. I’ve always thought she was a mother dog guarding her babies. The mama bear keenly watching with a calm alertness surveying her cubs. But I’m not. I hold contempt for my fierceness. I’m guilty of violence to myself never being good enough to save her, to cure her." - Shirley Riga

I couldn’t move past my blockage of pain until I uncovered this image I had about myself. It wasn’t until I was broken open. I unlocked the gates using my commitment to listen within. This commitment fuels an inner trust as I discover my mind’s concoctions. My commitment helps me keep going because I’m worth the struggle. My commitment helps me accept myself for who I really am and not judge myself for what I am not. My commitment keeps me honest with myself.

It’s easy to be caught up in my mind’s idea of what I should do or be. The mind is easily swayed by fear and hysteria. Awareness helps keep access open to the heart, a doorway into balance, acceptance, support, and loving kindness. Setting an intention and focusing on the heart keeps communication fluid between the two centers.

I don’t know anyone who wants to endure emotional or physical pain. And yet, pain helped me uncover the essence of who I am at the heart of my center. Pain helped me understand my mind’s idea of who I am and pain fueled me to look beyond my fear and hysteria. It doesn’t take a super human ability to find our inner self. It’s a personal decision and a commitment.

Dr. Susan Jeffers work with Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway is an example of an inward journey, one that happened to work well with me. I find more balance between my mind and my heart and use life tools to keep the doorways open. Now I can engage in a more fluid existence in addressing my concerns for the outer world while honoring and respecting my inner world.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you so much. I try to be aware of what’s going on in the world and at the same time I want to connect with my inner self. You pointed out what’s really important, connecting with my inner self, and then I can look at the rest of the world. It’s priorities. You really clarified that and I really appreciate it. Thank you.

  • For me, my reflection took me to compassion and how little compassion I give myself. It’s not surprising. I guess feeding myself with compassion allows me to be much more compassionate with my husband and the changes going on. It was a lightbulb realizing I spend a lot of time feeling badly about the various responses I have to our situation. My reactions come from a place where I don’t feel I’m getting what I need, and therefore, I’m irritable and not in a place that is genuinely expressing that part of compassion. An important awareness.

  • It’s a great awareness knowing you can return to that awareness any time. This awareness can go in and out of our minds because life happens.

  • I need to continually pay attention to where I need it and look for it and actively, as opposed to thinking it’s something that comes out.

  • I can put pressure on myself in needing to remember all the time to have awareness, and life happens to distract us. I can choose to beat myself up for forgetting, but the key is knowing we can find our way back to the awareness again and again.

  • I was reminded of how we tend to think a loved one will give us what we need. No one place can give us all we need, but a good place to start is ourselves. I recently read how people expect a church to give them everything they need, which is ridiculous. It’s a high expectation. It’s good to get down to earth and start with ourselves, do all I can to give myself what I need. It’s a great place to start and anything else is like icing on the cake. When we are meeting our own needs, we can be in the world taking action and helping.

  • I was brought up thinking that people are either with me or they are not. I’m finding if I’m with me, I can make space. My meditation went to my relationship with my spouse and how strong a commitment I have to someone else. I realized I can have a strong commitment to me and notice whether I’m feeling self-reliant or like a failure. It’s okay to stand in my own self, fulfill my own needs and connect with my spouse. Just making space for that. Part of my new mantra is “isn’t that interesting.” My response to my inner voice when I notice something is, “isn’t that interesting” and allow and be curious. I ask for humility and compassion. This mantra came from a course I did with Suzanne Giesemann.

  • Isn’t that interesting doesn’t shut the iron door on it but makes space to observe.

  • I found myself deciding to look for my inner self. It was interesting because I caught glimpses of this “me” trying to peek out and disappearing. It was like I was in a cave and I would pop out and then I couldn’t find myself. I knew I was there. This took me to a place of how I use different things to obscure or understand that child within. I know that girl is in there, and I use things to keep myself from connecting with her. Sometimes I throw food at the problem; sometimes I throw television at it; sometimes I throw anger at it. I have to stop blocking off or dulling that little girl and find out what it is that is bothering me; what is it that she has to say to me. It’s difficult with Easter coming up. I am definitely addicted to chocolate. I just have to figure out what’s going on.

  • It takes courage to say that. You’re making a connection. I always believe that, when the time is right, it emerges. The awareness is great. You’re knocking on the door and you’re seeing her face peeking through the window.

  • When I was young, I’d steal the jelly beans from my sibling’s Easter basket and then I’d go confess it. It was a big sin. Now, I have a ritual around them.

  • I’m guilty of using snack foods as well. I pray I don’t get sick with Covid because I am a primary caregiver. During the meditation, I said a little prayer that I hope I can stick with. To forgive myself for gaining weight and not having my paperwork in order. I’m trying to not feel guilty.

  • Be gentle with yourself. People will rise.

  • I come across household signs that I’ve put up. My favorite is “Chocolate understands.” I love the line isn’t that interesting. Thank you for that. It’s not sarcastic, it’s an observance.

  • Thank you everyone for being here this morning. I hope you all have a gentle day. We laugh and cry and feel deeply, we think, we explore, we are curious, we have wonderful creativity. It’s the power of being fully in our bodies. Thank you for experiencing all that together. We’ll be here tomorrow. I hope you all have a gentle day.

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