We live in a world that operates at an ever increasing pace. If we’re not careful, we can feel like we’re running a race every minute of the day.
In the hustle and bustle that many of us experience in our everyday living, it is easy to momentarily forget the poetry of pausing, even if you (like me) have experienced the serenity and power that conscious pausing brings. For me it is the peace that passes beyond understanding. It is the leveller that brings sanity and reasoning in moments of chaos and frustration. It is a reminder of how much I have to be grateful for, even when I experience loss or things don’t go as I had envisaged. It re-connects me to the strength of gratitude and how much saying, “Thank you,” out loud brings me back to matters of primary importance. May I never get so caught up in my own ridiculousness that I lose clarity of vision and forget to express my gratitude.
Something about pausing and honing in on gratitude helps moderate the imbalance we sometimes feel and helps us to focus in an age of ever increasing distractions. Being focused and conscious of the present moment allows us to become fully aware and to live ‘in the now’. Consciousness is like the sky, it may be covered by clouds or troubled by heavy storms but in the end, this does not affect the sky itself. It remains unaffected, open and unlimited.
What does this teach us? It teaches us that everything we experience, be it good or bad, is only an experience. It’s not something permanent, it’s not who we are. We shouldn’t let our inabilities and flaws define us, but we shouldn’t let our successes blind us either. We have to go the Middle Way. So, by being conscious, by living ‘mindfully’ we can let go of the past and stop worrying about the future. It is only then that we are able to be really present. It is only then that we find our true self.
Let us explore the difference between the “false self” and “true self”. The false self, as I understand it, is rooted in conditional statements of self-worth such as, “I am worthwhile because I am well liked” or “I am worthwhile if I get praise” or “I am worthwhile if I do well” etc. The problem with such beliefs is that they are rooted in fear and lead to rigid thinking. They make our self-worth conditional on the belief always being true. If we discover, for instance, that someone doesn’t like us or that we didn’t do well in an exam or on a piece of work etc, then our self-worth is thrown into question. The point of mindful living (mindfulness), then, is to look beyond the false self to the TRUE SELF underneath. The true self knows that “I am worthwhile because I am.”
So what can we do to affirm and develop our ‘pausing’ in order to reconnect with the present and evoke a state of conscious awareness and gratitude? As a starting point, it may be useful to link your practice to a particular activity that you carry out every day – eating. It is something we all need to do to survive and yet we often do so in a fairly unconscious state. We frequently take our food for granted and show little or no gratitude for having it. I am not talking about thanking the person who prepared the meal, although of course I encourage giving thanks to that person, even if it was you! I am talking about recognising how fortunate we are to actually have the food on our plate and being grateful for this. Pausing to do so before a meal enables us to focus on our abundance and brings us into a deeper understanding of what is. Religion has become such a point of contention amongst people that we as a society no longer really say grace. But one doesn’t have to be of a particular religion to ‘give thanks’ and realise that some have abundance where others have none.
So, what are your “false self” beliefs? Take notice of them this week and begin to practice letting go of them one moment at a time. Use the ‘Power of Pausing’ to live fully in the now!