The paradox of perfection

24 09 2014

 

 

In this world we are bombarded by messages that we should be, do and have both better and more. And as we feel inadequate, never good enough, after years of being standardized, these messages resonate with us. And we start chasing the perfect life. Out there. And sometimes we do get what we want and sometimes we don’t, but no matter the result, it never brings the sense of fulfillment we were hoping to find in the first place. We will never be, do or have enough unless we feel that we are enough as we are. Until we feel that we are perfect as we are in every moment, that life is perfect as it is, in every moment, we are chasing someone else’s dream.

Until recently, I was unable to accept my reality as perfect. I said life was perfect, but it would be even more perfect if I had published that book, would be speaking in front of large audiences, had exposed my art in a gallery. See the incongruence? I didn’t, my blind spot. Everything I did was rooted in filling this gap. I can tell you, it caused a lot of stress. As a result, I have quite some unfinished books and paintings. Even when I started with the intention of just having fun, it soon became a means to an end, a must. This sapped all the joy out of it. Instead of joy, I would feel increasing amounts of resistance. Inspiration stopped flowing, and my creativity would dry up. It was frustrating, very frustrating. Apart from writing this blog, I would not write a word. And apart from using my pencils for coloring, I would not touch any artistic medium. I would look at them longingly, but not touch them, because I had no clue what to do with them anyway.

This week for the first time in a long, long time, I felt like painting again. I felt like finishing a painting that has been sitting on my easel for months, and I had an idea for another painting that made me happy. For now, I will not do anything about those impulses yet. I will just observe them and allow them to grow. I will practice not doing a bit more, not doing and feeling enough at the same time. I am learning to love myself and my life as it is, just for the sake of loving it. There is no destination I need to reach, no outcome I am trying to force. A revolution! There is just the perfection of this moment, no matter what it looks like. Until now, when I asked myself, what if your life will always be like this? I would feel stress, intense stress. Now, that stress is almost completely gone, I can feel some traces of it, but that’s all.

I am starting to not only see, but also feel the perfection of this life. I love all that I have been and all that I have lived. I love all that I am and all that I am living. And I love all that I am becoming and will be living. I finally get the seeming paradox of loving life unconditionally, regarding life as perfect no matter what it looks like, and creating a better life at the same time. I never got that. I never got how loving my life as it is, would make it better. It is simple, so simple. The energy we invest in this moment determines the return on investment we will get in the next moment. I don’t know what my future looks like, how it will unfold (and for the first time I feel okay about that), but I do know that when I regard life as perfect, it will be perfect, now and forever. My life is perfect, for me, in this moment. Every moment. End of story.

 





The tale of two wolves

17 09 2014

 

 

There is this wonderful Cherokee tale. You might have heard it. It goes like this: An old Cherokee tells his grandson: “My son, there’s a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, and ego. The other is joy, peace, love, hope, kindness, truth, compassion and faith. and truth.” The boy thinks about it for a minute and asks: “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man replies: “The one that you feed.”

I believe that what I give energy to grows. For years, I practiced being aware of what I think and believe, and focus on positive thoughts. Only recently, I started practicing being aware of what I really feel, and started focusing on what feels good to me. I already understood that focusing on the positive side of life brought me more positive experiences. And for some things that was easy, for other things not so. With those things I kept struggling. What I understand now is that I overstretched my beliefs on those subjects.
Our beliefs are not as static as we may believe them to be. Of course, on the intellectual level, we either believe something or we don’t. When it comes to the heart level, things are not as black and white. Ideas have a feeling tone. Something our heart doesn’t want to believe feels off, period. When ideas feel uneasy they are on the outskirts of our belief system. They are either long-overdue, in that case we need to let them go, or they are  too avant-garde, and don’t concern us yet. Somewhere in the middle is our belief set point. It reflects perfectly where we are now. But most interesting to us are the ideas that feel good. The ideas we want to believe, that are perceived to be believable and that we can easily be persuaded to believe. Our heart is excited about their potential and our mind is reassured by what seems to be a solid body of evidence.

In these past weeks, I was stuck in a recurring situation. It had happened in the past on a regular basis, and now it was happening again. Only this time, the situation seemed to get worse over time instead of better. Nothing serious, just a minor physical ailment. A seemingly non-cooperative knee.
It took some time for me to get annoyed enough to make time to review my thoughts and beliefs on the subject and how I felt about them. I sat down and did a brain dump. I wrote down every thought I had on my knee. I categorized them in the feeling tones ‘good’, ‘neutral’ and ‘uneasy’. The power of what I did next just blew my mind. In my note book, I started to elaborate on those ideas that that felt good. I free wrote about how and why they make me feel good. I included good-feeling ideas about my knee, my body, my health, my love for my knee, my body, my health, and myself.  I let all these good-feeling ideas, the thoughts and the emotions that come with them flow on paper. I did not censor myself. I just allowed myself to feel good about those subjects and where I was in relationship to them. Once I got going, it felt so good that it got addictive. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I let go of the idea that I have a weak knee, and am continuously focusing on the belief that my body is whole, always gravitating towards health.

It has been less than a week, the infection in my knee is gone, the swelling is noticeably less, I can move it freely, it is pain free, I can walk and bike again. Every day, I am regaining mobility and functionality. However, the miracle isn’t about the knee, it is about a shift in focus. It is about me letting go of old beliefs and fully embracing newer, better-feeling beliefs. What happens when we focus on better-feeling beliefs is that we are reprogramming our belief set point. You have to know that our brain can’t really distinguish between what goes on on the outside and what goes on on inside. When we focus on beliefs that feel good, when we think about them and write about them as much as we can, they become practiced. They become our new ‘neutral’. And the beliefs that first were too avant-garde for our mind to believe, become accessible by associate, and move into the realm of what feels  good and is believable.
What is so great about this is that we don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as you perceive it to be, and our perceptions are ruled by our beliefs. When you allow our beliefs to evolve into beliefs that feel better, that represent who we are now, and we do that consistently, the world we perceive will change accordingly. The beliefs we feed win, they manifest. When we ask ourselves which beliefs we do want to manifest, what we do you want our world to look and feel like, we set ourselves up for a better experience. When we feed the beliefs that feel good, we are creating a world that feels better.

 

picture by Me Me





Trusting my gut

10 09 2014

 

 

After I got better, after having been ill for some years, I assumed that all I had to do was to get my life organized again and get rolling again. What I did not understand, until now, is that apart from the parts of my life that I was genuinely loving, I had no life to get back to. Almost everything I had built my life upon was in the process of undoing itself. My life was mostly built upon what I had been taught was good. Even in the years before I got sick, as I was rebuilding my life in a way I believed was my way, my thinking and feeling were still contaminated by my socialization. I had been conditioned so strongly that, on the intellectual and feeling level, I could not separate myself from it.  So everything I did, even though at the time I firmly believed that I was making a conscious choice, was somehow influenced by what I was raised to believe and feel. Gaining consciousness is a process. It is how I became conscious. It probably is Read the rest of this entry »





The challenge

3 09 2014

 

 

Remember last week’s essay What do I want? Whenever we express an intention, we will be challenged to come through on that intention. This week, my challenge came in the form of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Unless you have been living under a rock those past months, you will know that this challenge is about throwing a bucket of ice water over yourself in order to raise awareness for ALS. As I heard a dear friend nominate me in his video, I felt a huge drop in energy, I actually instantly felt sick to my stomach. My body screamed ‘NO!’. There was nothing rational about this ‘no’. It wasn’t even about not wanting to do this. This ‘no’ wasn’t about the bucket with ice water or about not wanting to raise awareness for ALS, because I have witnessed what ALS does and it ain’t pretty. I really do wish health to everyone, and most of all hope, hope for a cure, for a better life, for a better future. We all need hope.

The only logical thing I can come up with is that I have felt pressured to do what other people wanted me to do for the greater part of my life and that nowadays my inner-being protects me by revolting to anything that makes me feel pressured. Whatever reason there may be, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that I have promised myself to listen to my body, to follow its guidance. In a way, it would be so easy to throw a bucket of ice water over myself, record a video and put it on social media, because I do care, and also because I do not want to let my friend down. But that would mean that I would consciously negate my body signals, something I have done for too long, something that has led to burn-out, depression and illness. I cannot do that anymore. I have promised my body that I will listen to the best of my abilities and follow her guidance. And that is exactly what I am going to do. I do not have the luxury to not listen. Trust is gained, it takes years to build and only seconds to break.

 

picture by Joachim Aagaard Nielsen