Follow Up Friday is a new series where I check in on the questions and issues that I introduced on Tuesday's blog.
Question: What is your favorite worst feeling?
As I continued to examine this question throughout the week, I found myself sort of hating my personality type. I actually got mad at it, like it was this other outside organism (which it sort of is). Saying things in my head like: why can’t you be happier with where you are? What’s wrong with you? You’re missing out on life, you know. These kinds of thoughts, I realize, are not helpful.
One of the reasons I love the Enneagram so much is that it is not about changing who you are. It’s not about being some perfect specimen. It is about shedding light on your automatic patterns, your default perspective. When you shed light on these patterns, then you have a choice. This is the awareness piece in any spiritual practice. You can either remain a victim of your old methods of existence, or you can choose a new way of seeing things.
What comes before gratitude and after awareness is acceptance. As my teacher, David Daniels says, when awareness gets too far ahead of acceptance that’s when you have discord. So casting back on that night where I had a conversation between my Inner Guidance and my Habitual Mind, I was missing the piece of acceptance. I was trying to force myself to the gratitude step.
So, what I’m planning on practicing is acceptance with compassion and curiosity. My therapist has an analogy that I think is very fitting. It’s like having a new bud planted on your windowsill and urging it to instantaneously blossom into a flower: Grow! Grow! Grow! It’s an absurd idea, so why do we do it to ourselves?
The next time my mind casts back to yearning for the rose-colored past, or gunning for the idealized future, I hope I can get curious and with compassion discover why it is I am leaving the present moment.
Let’s continue this conversation! If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave them in the comments below or email me.
Have a lovely weekend!
“One law of our souls is that if we are present to our here-and-now experience with an open and fresh attitude of curiosity and inquiry into the contents of our consciousness, our experience will rapidly deepen.”
“We cannot make ourselves change, just as we cannot make ourselves feel love for someone we don’t care about. Change does not happen through our own efforts. No one has ever made themselves or anyone else change. But our efforts can orient our consciousness in such a way that transformation is more likely. “
I read a lot of self-help books. Why? Because I have a desire to be better, and I guess I hope that by reading these books I will be able to change into this better person. It’s not that easy. I have the awareness of what I could do to make myself better, but I don’t always have the willingness to do the necessary actions.
Let’s take meditation for example. For several weeks, even months, I have had the idea of starting my mornings with meditation. In this romantic vision, I wake up with that sense of curiosity and presence possessed by children. I open the window, sit on a comfortable cushion in a designated meditation spot, light a candle, set my Insight timer for twenty minutes, close my eyes and meditate.
Have I even once done this? No. Why do I want to? For several reasons... One, I feel like overall I will be a happier, more peaceful, more enlightened person if I do this. Two, I think that I will be perceived by others to be a happier, more peaceful, more enlightened person if I do this. Three, I have an idea that it will give me a sense of purpose. Four, I believe that if I start my day this way, connecting with “presence” I will have an easier time achieving my goals.
So, why don’t I? I don’t have many good answers. I have some not-so-good excuses. There is resistance, of course, as Steven Pressfield writes so beautifully about in his book, The War of Art. The quote above from Sandra Maitri is also somewhat comforting, though I don’t think it fits exactly with this problem. It is possible to make an effort to do something.
What is coming to my mind is the struggle between the IDEAL SELF versus the PERCEIVED SELF versus the TRUE SELF. My ideal self meditates every day. My perceived self doesn’t have faith that I am capable of committing to meditating every day. And most importantly, my true self is buried beneath the two, so that she is very difficult to access.
It’s all a process, part of the journey. One reason I love the Enneagram is that it helps me get a little closer to uncovering the true self.
What is your experience? Do you have a sense of the struggle between the ideal, perceived and true selves? Are you able to make an effort to meditate every day, or do some other activity that you believe will be soul-enhancing? Please share your comments in the space below.