Have you ever sat to reflect on your life and come to realise that actually you don’t remember the whole story? What you actually remember are moments, your mind can only recall history in snip its. And then if you go further you come to understand that you have retained particular moments in your life, perhaps traumatic or perhaps joyful, none the less they are just moments in your life.
So if life is made up of moments, can we begin to accept the fundamental importance of being totally present in each moment? Because that moment is where you change your life, that moment is where you make a decision that has a direct impact on your future.
What is The Moment?
But what is this “moment” that everyone keeps talking about? To be able pay attention to your life in each moment you have to understand what “the moment” actually feels like. I would love to be able to describe it for you and perhaps I’ll attempt to do that at some time. But for now here’s a funny response given by the Dalai Lama. He is an example of someone who lives in the now because it’s the only way he knows how to live. His response is open, direct, honest and definitely in the moment. Unlike most of us who would first think it through, what should I say? Who maybe offended?
This Moment is A Significant Moment
Of course every moment is significant, the very fact that you are still breathing, still living is a significant moment. However often we miss significant moments, we don’t pay attention to our thoughts and we make decisions based on the past. As soon as we stop to “think” we are using our past experience to make what we think is a rational decision. To an extent this is absolutely necessary however what we don’t do is stop and feel.
Yes often we miss the moment because we are thinking, that is precisely the reason we go backwards and forwards with our thoughts, missing feeling, missing being and missing tasting the moment.
As soon as we understand how important being present in the moment actually is, we start to make better decisions, we start to be the master of our life because our decisions are aligned to our true self.
This might sound very soft or spiritual to some. To make decisions based on being in the moment is not our natural way. We have been taught to ignore our gut instinct, to listen to the mind more than the heart in favour of what is supposed to be logical. But this is not the case if our thoughts are a collection of moments we have acquired from the past. Simply put if we stop and listen to our heart, otherwise known as our gut instinct or feelings, then often we make far better choices.
Your heart knows things that your mind can’t explain – start listening!
Changing the Course of Your Life
So going back to why I started writing this post, I have a question to ask you. When you reflect on your life, do you see moments where you made decision and where not really present? I certainly see many moments in my life where I just went with the “supposed to do” or “it’s the right thing to do” rather than listening to my gut or feeling what was right.
Because when you listen to your feelings, often they will take of the beaten track and that can be a scary place to go.
Today I live my life very much based on what feels right, I rarely listen to my mind because it has betrayed me too often. Filled with stories from the past, filled with labels that serve to confine us to a limiting life. I’ve learnt to listen only lightly to the mind and much more to the heart. I’m still learning of course but at least now I’m aware.
Perhaps you can start to ask yourself who is running your life?
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Self discovery seems to take up a lot of time in our life. There seems to be an assumption that you must search for you because you do not know who you are. So you go along this journey you call life collecting various labels to attach to in order to gain a sense of identity, a sense of who you are. I am a woman, a mother, a grandmother. I am intelligent because I have a degree. I am Greek, I am British and whatever else I have identified myself with over the course of the years.
What happens when one of these labels no longer fits? Well from my experience, you lose a sense of who you are. You then try to find new labels, new ways of gaining an understanding of who you are. But what if you just stopped for a minute and paid attention to who you are, what if you removed all the labels and looked at yourself authentically.
What if you stopped asking who am I and just allowed yourself to be?
Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself – Rumi
When you go about your life in search of an identity you lose the essence of life. You are always searching, trying to find something outside of you that can fit and make you feel whole. When you are feeling empty or something seems to be missing, the assumption is that you can nurture that feeling with something outside of you. But the reality is that all that you are is already within you, only when you connect with yourself can you fill that void.
The problem I guess for many of us is that this idea of not searching, not looking for more than what we already are, is difficult to understand. The idea that you are who you are, that’s it. No need to search or try to explain or even discover. After all if you are all that you are, right there, then self discovery is not necessary.
How Can You Connect With Who You Are?
Firstly try having a heart to heart conversation with yourself. Yes it may sound a little crazy but give it a go every now and again. Oh and remember to listen to the answers. Don’t change the answers to sound better or even deny what comes up, just listen without judgment.
Complete and utter self acceptance. Sounds hard to do doesn’t it? After all aren’t we always told we should be self improving? Doesn’t that mean that we should never just accept who we are? I’d argue that we are perfect as we are, accepting that is a empowering place to be. Does that mean you have to accept that you can’t evolve into a person with higher awareness? No it doesn’t but it does mean that whatever you want to be is already present within you.
Self acceptance also means that you accept that you are not perfect, that nobody is perfect, that life itself is not perfect and with that acceptance find peace with the things that are not as you wish them to be.
And this means that we just live our lives without trying to be anything or anyone, just living.
How Do You Just Live?
Isn’t it funny how the simple things become so complicated when you start to think about it? How do you just live? How do you just be who you are?
The main thing is to come out of your head. To begin let go of the thoughts you attach to about who you or are not. Start paying attention to these thoughts and perhaps work on letting go of any attachments you may have to labels about yourself. And just live – no identity needed.
Thought it would also be great to share this post where Lady Gaga talks about the power of saying no and how she started to find herself again.
You are not your thoughts and you are not the product of your thoughts – Alan Finger
As I write this I am sitting in a hotel room in Cyprus. The significance of this is that this is the hotel I stayed in for my honeymoon. It’s also where we spent many a Sunday when I lived in Cyprus. There is a lot of connection here with my past. This got me thinking about how my life has changed over the last couple of years, it also got me thinking about how important it is to know how to heal yourself so you can move on into your new life.
I came to the realisation that I am truly free from the past, there is such a sense of peace with it that I can only be happy with everything just as it is. So how did I get to this point? What would I say to someone who is stuck in that place in the past?
1 – Learn to Let Go of the Past
I think the most important thing anyone can do is to learn to make peace with the past. To do that is the greatest gift you can give yourself. It’s about accepting that whatever was, it is the past, it’s gone. Can’t bring it back, can’t change it and can’t live in it. If that’s the case, surely it’s a waste of energy to give the past so much of your present time?
To heal yourself you have to work towards creating a life for yourself in the present. Make your life great now, then the past becomes your greatest lesson. If you can start to relate to your past in a completely different way, it no longer holds you in it’s grasp.
I look back in a much more detached way because the past was right for me at the time, it served it’s purpose and I let it go. I don’t look back in a nostalgic way, I don’t look back at all most of the time. Can you accept that however painful your past may have been, it was also the greatest opportunity to learn, to grow and at the time it was where you needed to be?
When you change how you relate to your past, it no longer is a place you want to live in.
2 – Learn to be Fully Comfortable Being Alone
To me this is very high on the priority list, if you want to heal yourself you had better start loving being alone. Why? Because until you can do that you will be making future choices based on your need for someone else. It sounds so obvious right? But I’ve met so many people who are stuck in this attitude of “when I meet that special person I’ll do this or I’ll do that” – Why? Just live your life now, in it’s full glory and let it flow without waiting for someone or something outside of yourself to complete your picture.
I have become so comfortable alone that there’s not very much I won’t do on my own. And what happens is that when I am on my own I somehow meet so many new people, have so many interesting conversations and life is so much more open.
If it feels uncomfortable or scary to do things alone, then just see if you can get past that fear and go do it! Once it’s done, it’s not that scary. I stay in hotels alone, I eat in restaurants alone, I go out, I do everything if not more than I would have when I was married. And it makes me feel so strong and confident, I stand alone and that is so fulfilling.
3 – Learn to Ignore Other People’s Judgements and Opinions
This one is the hardest one for so many people, me included. I’m much better at it now than I used to be. I often do things just to provoke a reaction because I want to show people that their view of me is insignificant. Others can not direct how I live my life because I can only live according to me.
Learning to ignore or better put, learning to not be influenced by other’s takes courage. It means that you may very well loose friends. It may mean that you will find yourself on your own but the freedom you get from living according to you is worth it, I can vouch for that.When you know you are happy to stand alone, then what others think of you bears little importance.
We cause ourselves so much pain by listening to others, everyone wants to share their opinion of you and your life. Especially if it takes them out of their own limited comfort zone. You can only live your life, let them live theirs.
Do you ever look back on your life and think “why the hell did I do that?” or “How did I get myself into that?” – Any label you attach to will define you.
Sometimes I wonder how I ended up doing certain things in my life, like getting married. It was never a dream or desire of mine as a young girl. I was intelligent, ambitious, very independent and not into the mainstream “girly” things. In spite of all the things I knew about myself, I still ended up following the path set out for me because of my gender and my ethnic background.
The problem with labels is that the only purpose is to fit you into society’s boxes; they define you and as soon as you start to accept these labels they become you.
“Labels are a false confinement of where you fit in life”
Labels Attached to Your Gender
There are no bigger label’s than the one’s attached to our gender.
Women are caring,loving, soft, emotional and giving (just a few labels)
And of course a woman’s main role in life is to catch the perfect man, get married and have babies. Then you become a wife, mother, a cook and a cleaner.
A man is strong, dependable, not emotional and of course never cries. Men should meet the right woman, get married and have a family. Then they become husbands, fathers and earners.
Of course society has changed and some of these labels have changed. However the point I am making is that labels are used to identify you and they are a way for others to understand you. Labels are also a way to ensure we follow society’s rules.
Labels and Sexuality
Then there are the expectations that come along from labelling your sexuality. I think it’s a little strange that a race of billions of people can be narrowed down to heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. And we defend these labels fiercely, just in case we are taken too far out of our comfort zone.
What would happen if you didn’t take on these labels? Perhaps I’ll come back to this one when I’m feeling a little more courageous.
Labels and Relationships
This one is a minefield that I can only touch on here. Relationships are labelled as monogamous or non-monogamous. In our society the norm is a monogamous relationship, where two people are committed to each other and nobody else.
Non-monogamous relationships exist but rarely out in the open. So who is to say that a monogamous relationship is more healthy or valid than an open, consented non-monogamous one? Again here is another label placed on us to make sure things are clean and easy to understand.
Then there’s relationship status, single, married, divorced, separated and cohabiting. I mean what’s the difference between being single and being divorced? Surely once you are divorced you are just single again? Or is it to somehow fit you into another box, the one that say’s “well at least she was married once!”
I’ll leave that one there for now too.
Drop the Labels
Over the last couple of years I’ve done my utmost to drop the labels, the ones I took on so others could understand me. Now when people ask me questions about my life, like “have you found a good guy yet?” I smile because I know people are struggling to understand what box I fit into.
The difference is I no longer need understanding, acceptance or to be liked because I made a commitment to myself that I am no longer willing to be confined. I’m looking for undefinable and unknowable – it’s so much more interesting.
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