Do you sense you are becoming a bit stagnant, perhaps slightly stale? Do you feel it’s time to freshen your self up? Are you ready for a ‘makeover’?
Millions, if not billions, are spent every year by millions, if not billions of people, in pursuit of a new or improved self image. For the vast majority it’s a surface exercise focused around appearances. Facials, hairstyling, nails, eyebrows and skin all get the treatment. The aim is to refresh ones physical image and hopefully ‘ramp up’ ones confidence to face whatever and whoever life brings our way! Many will embark on some serious nipping and tucking, thinning and liposuction, scraping and exfoliating, on their way to the ultimate overhaul!
Most people are aware that it’s a superficial approach which only temporarily fixes some surface issues. There is a feel good factor that doesn’t just come out of a bottle! But it’s short lived. There may or may not be the realization that the whole makeover process is NOT ultimately about ones appearance. The whole exercise is really a business deal! I attract and impress you with a new or improved appearance and you give me the energy of your attention and admiration which I can then convert into a sense of esteem and worth! Deep down most are aware that time and money could be better spent.
A few of the many who recognise that it’s often a fools errand don’t ‘turn away’ from the makeover philosophy, they ‘turn deeper’. They realise that if ones sense of self worth, security and serenity, even ones attractiveness, are to be enhanced, then it has to come from within. It is unnecessary to make visible changes, but necessary to beautify ones personality, to ‘nip’ those negative thoughts in the bud and ‘tuck’ away those feelings of helplessness and depression, to ‘scrape’ out those layers of habitual neediness and ‘exfoliate’ those long dead beliefs and misperceptions.
Just as the physical makeover can require an array of therapists, the ‘personality makeover’ usually entails the hunt for the personal development gurus, the experts on how realise and ‘unleash’ your full, unlimited, amazing and incredible potential as an all round human being! There seems to be plenty of those around today! Some will head for the bookshop and then fill their shelves with the ‘how to’ self help manuals. Others will book in for the ‘miracle changes in three days’ course, or the enlightenment in an afternoon workshop, or the transformation in a weekend retreat! None will change your appearance, except perhaps to restore a spiritual twinkle to your eye. Each is more deeply intended to help you to do your own changing! To help you find your own power to change what you think, how you feel and the way you act. All are useful, all have a part to play, on the way to finding the ‘right way for me’.
Eventually there is the ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ realization. It takes time and consciously focused effort to realise and apply the wisdom, insights, tools and inner treatments on the road to the ‘more enlightened, happier and kinder me’. The ‘inner makeover’ is really a cleaning and scrubbing of the soul. It requires the continuous input of insight and information in order to trigger and sustain an ongoing process of self-realization. It requires the conscious translation of those realizations into action in order to replace the deeply entenched habits of self-sabotage! Then it requires time to review, as the ‘results of practice’ are assessed, in order to discern what is working, what ‘feels’ right and what is still way short of a me being the new ‘inner me’! Phew!
It can all feel like hard work. Which is probably why so few are able to turn away from the distracting stimulations of the glamorous surfaces of the world for long enough to allow themselves to work on the ‘deepest tissues’ of their mental and emotional issues.
And so… in the context of this short article, for the sake of brevity in a busy world, here are seven inner makeover ‘markers’ that you can lay down every day without needing to sit at the feet of the guru or slope of on a ten day silence retreat. They are all a bit ‘stop and start’! That’s because each is a call to STOP and each has an invitation to START.
Stop BLAMING and Start CREATING
“Someone else is responsible”, is one of the deepest layers of our programming. It stops us from realising the primary dynamic of human consciousness which is the creative process of life and living. Any workshop worth it’s salt will facilitate your realisation that ‘I am responsible for the world’. Not the world ‘out there’ but how we create the world out there ‘in here’! But as long as we play the blame game, as long as we point the mental finger at anyone else for what we feel and where we are, it means we are killing our creativity. So… STOP IT!
Then your energy is free to START thinking creatively. Even if it’s just in retrospect to begin with. Questions like, “How could I have responded differently or why did I react like that,” serve to interrupt the old ‘it’s them’ programming and allow you to start recovering the full spectrum of your creative abilities. Be patient, it’s a little time.
Stop WORRYING and Start LIVING
Some people, often called ‘researchers’, spend their time measuring how much time in our lifetime we spend in front of a TV or at our computer screen or waiting in queues. It’s usually years for each of such non-activities. Or how much time we spend just sitting down. That’s usually many years. But how much time do we spend worrying in a lifetime of time? Would it be days, months or years? Could it be as much as a decade of our entire life? Some seem to ‘worry so’! It is probably our deepest habit. All the while we will be the first to say that we know worry is a complete waste of time. It changes nothing. We become absent from the present while we get lost in a fictitious future and make our self extremely unhappy in the process…now! So… STOP IT!
It’s easy to say START living. But it somehow doesn’t compute. Just saying it doesn’t renew our enthusiasm. Probably because we cannot see that we are not really living. We don’t easily notice that we are often just passing time before we die, occasionally interrupting our self with fleeting moments of excitement that we mistake for a happy life. Occasionally, in between such moments, we might think, “Is this all there is”? Then we worry if we will ever know authentic happiness before time runs out! Life only begins when you realise you have no future! Now there is a meditation!
Stop REGRETTING and Start FORGETTING
Sometimes we need to refer to a previous experience in order to deal with what’s in front of us now. That’s when looking back is OK. But wishing it could have been different, that we could have made a better choice, that things could/should have been avoided or defended better, is to lose your self in a fictional and speculative mental movie. STOP it! Forget the past. The past, as they say, is past! What keeps the past alive is our ‘idea’ of the future. We keep using the future to create a better past! It’s all about the ‘story of me’. It’s the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. We don’t realise ‘I am not a story’ of a future or a past, I am me, here and now! If there is any desire for success and/or achievement in the future then the past will often be a heavy weight pulling us back into doubt and excuses, “I can’t succeed/achieve because I said this or did that or thought this and chose that”. All references to what is long gone.
To START forgetting requires the conscious practice of releasing our self from the story of our life. That requires the realisation that, “I am not a story”! That means forgetting what other people in my story have said and done, and what I have said and done in response, yesterday. That means forgetting any sorrow and suffering that you felt throughout all your yesterdays. It is possible. We are capable of starting a new story every day. But first we have to experiment and taste the difference it makes to the quality of our life, to our relationships in life, when we cease to regret and just forget.
Stop RESISTING and Start ACCEPTING
It’s seems that we are fated to live a life of resistance while not being aware that we do so. Even when we seem to know that whatever we resist will persist, we still insist to resist! Whether it’s someone else’s ideas, or their desires, or their opinion, or just ‘them’, we square up against them, even if it’s just in our own mind. In such moments we are essentially killing our contentment and generating anxiety.
So… STOP IT! Try starting to accept everything. It doesn’t mean agreeing, but stop disagreeing. It doesn’t mean condoning, but stop condemning. As you do you will generate a very different quality of energy. When you START to accept all and everything and everyone as they are you will start to feel calmer and much more positive about … everything and everyone. You will start to connect with others in a way that builds and nurtures the relationship. The needle jumps out of the old groove and your life plays a new and delightful note. Oh yes it will!
Stop TAKING and Start GIVING
Any impatience means we cannot wait to receive. Wanting, having, keeping, holding, grasping, are all forms of taking. It’s not wrong. It’s just not very enlightened. Notice there is always a tension, an anxiety, perhaps an intense fear, that sits behind each. This is how to make your self stressed. So… STOP IT! Start receiving. START realising and knowing that you are always receiving what you need, at each and every moment. That’s a revolutionary idea to most minds. Don’t fight that idea. Try not to resist it as an assault on logic. Stop and reflect, look around, notice where you are. Can you see what is happening around you at this moment is exactly what you need. And if it seems or feels like nothing is happening, then know that ‘that nothingness’ is necessary in this moment. It is probably there to help you to acknowledge and cure your addiction to the agitations that accompany the desire for something to happen all the time!
START releasing, offering, sharing, giving and you’ll also notice you naturally start receiving. There will likely be the feeling of a very different energy that comes not from others or from the world, but from your own heart! Wise is the soul who lives to give. Happy is the soul who cares and shares. Clever is the soul who receives, but never takes, in order to give!
Stop THINKING and Start FEELING
We tend to leave our heart and live in our mind. We live ‘in’ what’s ‘on’ our mind and this is where and why emotion is created. We have an idea or we create an image in our mind. That’s OK. But it’s not so OK when we lose our ‘self’ in the image/idea. Then, when something happens to what the image and/or idea represents in the world around us, it feels like it’s happening to us. What we feel is a disturbance in our consciousness that we call ‘emotion’. It’s not long before we start to believe that our emotions are all we can feel.
We make this mistake so often it feels normal. We then become addicted to our emotions and we forget how to feel. Which really means we forget how to choose our feelings. Which really means we forget how to ‘be undisturbed’ within our consciousness by anything that happens outside of our self.
It’s easy to say STOP IT i.e. stop living in what’s on your mind. But it’s probably the most ingrained habit of man and womankind! In order to START feeling, which means start consciously choosing what you feel, you will have to leave your mind and return to your heart, the heart of your being. When you live from the heart you then become the master of your mind.
Sit quietly and make the journey of no distance in one second, from your mind to your heart, from thought to feeling, from noise to silence, and you may see for your self if that ‘feels’ right to you?
Stop DOING and Start BEING
Its tough to stop being a compulsive doer! The speed of events is accelerating. The imperative is to do more in less time. The world is now filled with rushaholics! It’s not difficult to become and action addict, especially when there is the fear of being left behind. From the day we arrive all we seem to hear is, “This is what you have to do… This is what they did…. This is what needs to be done…”!
We even feel we have to do something in order to relax and do nothing! ‘I’m busy’ is our mantra. Preoccupied is our attention. Agitated is our state. We believe we have to be seen by others to be always doing something, working on something, creating something. So we chase feelings of importance, fulfillment and worth through action.
So… STOP IT! Stop being a ‘human doing’ and start doing a human who is just being! Can you start just allowing whatever is happening to happen, to occur, to appear, as it will! Can you just be with others without trying to advise them, find out about them, fix them, make them feel what you think they ‘should’ feel? Can you just be with others and with the world and watch the variety forms and multilayered textures of life just…appear, and then disappear? If you can you will notice the fictions that you have been creating, the illusions that you have been sustaining, through all your incessant ‘doings’. You will feel the reality and the power of ‘the being’ that you are. And you will know that that is all you are. And that will be enough! Quite enough!
Question: Which one of the above did you find most challenging and why?
Reflection: Take each one and ask your self, “Why is it not so easy for me to do this?” Reflect slowly!
Action: Take one of the above each day for the coming week and experiment with it throughout the day and see what a difference it makes, or indeed how challenging it is to enact. Then reflect on how you did at the end of the day.
Por Mike George