We all want to be our best and brightest selves, to have a joyful abundant life and be of service to the world in a way that is fun and fulfilling.
Those on the conscious path of awakening, who lean into living a spiritual life, read books, take classes, and take on practices like meditation or yoga. We want guidelines, rules and practices that show us the way.
However, no amount of following the rules or seeking knowledge will fulfill the desire inside us that burns brightly, and at other times may feel stomped out completely. This is because no outside source can fulfill our calling to be connected to, in union with, our true divine nature.
Others can support us, guide us, remind us and inspire us, but can’t do it for us.
While immersing in different meditation practices, I remember reading the book, “A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life” by Jack Cornfield. One line struck me that I still remember today:
“Much of spiritual life is self-acceptance, maybe all of it.”
It can be easier to focus our attention outward, to aim toward being a good and right person by practicing being kind, compassionate and loving to others. This is important, powerful and transformative. We are all connected and mirrors for each other.
Human nature is such that it is easy to seek approval from others, and to think that someone knows better than us about how we should live our lives. The path of awakening involves becoming independent and self-empowered, learning the ropes from our parents and teachers, and then diving in on our own.
There are two aspects that lift us up, that truly heal on all levels, that I’d like to share today.
RELEASING SELF-DOUBT: TRUSTING YOURSELF
I’m sure you have been inspired by those who are confident and passionate about what they are up to. What you see in them, even if superficial, is the possibility of trusting yourself and going for your greatest dreams. This means, regardless of anyones’ opinion, that you make YOUR truth, your choices, your unique perspective, the priority.
No one has the answer to life’s biggest questions, and everyone has their opinion, be it backed by science, society, teachers, churches, personal experience, or anything else.
No one can force you to agree with them, even if you walk in a society that agrees with a limited reality that you, yourself, are awakening from.
Ultimately, releasing self-doubt is one of the most powerful aspects of awakening. It is freedom. It is Love.
What would your life look like, feel like, from moment to moment if you trusted yourself? If even in every “mistake”, you chose to trust that you are learning and growing? If you couldn’t get it wrong? If you didn’t compare yourself to anyone else, nor look for approval from anyone?
On the table is trusting yourself. And who is this YOU that you are trusting? It is Divine You, your soul, the YOU that is a spark of the Divine, as we all are. It is the You that can be the loving parent to that parts of you that are afraid and hurt.
Try on for one day putting your hand on your heart and declaring, “In this moment, I trust myself. I trust the Universe.”
No matter what you think, what you say, what you do, for that day you declare, “I trust myself.”
Oh, yes, doubt will come up, and by trusting yourself, you have the opportunity to lovingly notice the doubt, the fears, and address them directly. You give yourself space to love all of you, exactly as you are. It’s not one day, once you have the perfect body, job, relationship, knowledge, spiritual practices, or health. It’s right now, exactly as you are, trusting that all you are experiencing is a catalyst, a big push by yourself and the universe, to claim your power, your beauty, that you are a great gift to this world, exactly as you are right now. Trust yourself, and choices become easier and faster. Trust yourself, and rules soften to acts of loving kindness toward yourself and others, because, after all, we are here to expand Love into all the darkness.
Judgment, like doubt, doesn’t just disappear. Others may say you’ll get to a point where it does, but don’t be fooled. We are judging machines! Just the fact that we live in a physical world, in these amazing physical bodies, puts us in a situation where we judge. In this world, there IS right and wrong. There are plants that are nutritious, and ones that are poisonous. Those directions on Google Maps are, well, usually right. Of course, this mechanistic view of reality is only a piece of who we are, as beings of Light in a physical body. But we must use judgment to function in and understand this world.
Judgment can be charged with emotions when we declare, “This is right,” or, “This is wrong.”
Well, this is where we get ourselves in a bit (or a lot) of trouble. As judging machines, combined with looking for approval and belonging from others, we mistakingly use our ability to understand how to function in a physical world to then judge the shit out of ourselves and others. We can be SO dramatic!
This spirals back to self-trust.
If you trusted yourself and your choices, and owned your mistakes and painful experiences as learning opportunities, judgment would soften its grip. This includes when you notice yourself judging and then judge yourself for it!
I have noticed that my judgment directed towards others actually begins with my own self-judgment. These strict rules of conduct within myself are then projected onto others like a knee-jerk reaction, or I get defensive of their judgment toward me, even if they haven’t said a word. Their judgment is really none of my business, because the truth is that if that person loved themselves without judgment, they wouldn’t project any judgment outward.
I like the word, “discernment”.
It gives a sense of detachment in any situation.
Throughout our day, we are emotionally drained by our judgments. We are constantly judging ourselves and others, and a gift of living a spiritual life is that we begin to notice and interrupt the habit of judgment.
Here’s an example of judgment, and how draining it can be:
Your alarm goes off, and you hit snooze. The judgments, not in your conscious awareness: “I don’t feel like going to work today… I don’t like my job… My boss is an asshole... I hate that I HAVE to work… I said I’d get up early to meditate or exercise and here I am yet again not doing that, I’m so tired and it’s because I’m fat and I can’t believe I ate that last night… Why do I have to be the one to get up early and take care of my partner/children/the dog?... I’m not good enough... I’m not doing it right...”
That’s exhausting, and I’d go back to sleep too!
Starting to notice those habitual judgments gives you freedom to shift out of them in the moment. It’s not about telling yourself you shouldn’t judge, because that’s another judgment, and one you’re not going to win at.
In wanting to be a good person, we often put a band-aid on our judgments. A good person wouldn’t judge others, feel resentment, anger, fear or hurt. I’ll just ignore those things and be positive today. I’ll focus on work and being productive. Ignoring ourselves, we might notice we shop, eat, watch tv, scroll social media, or talk shit about others’ behavior…and judge ourselves for doing so.
Think of judgment as a call to compassion and loving attention.
I like the word "discernment". It gives a sense of detachment from any situation. Choosing to discern vs. judge means that you look at yourself, others, or any situation from the view of the observer. What you're detaching from is that your thoughts, others' thoughts, your body and this physical world, or any of your experiences - past, present or future - define you. When we think these things define us, we are greatly attached and emotionally reactive! Your intention to discern vs. judge uplifts you to a larger part of yourself, the YOU, your soul, that knows you are an eternal being having this temporary experience whose greatest illusion is that you are separate from everything. Discernment makes choices easier, as you are aligned with your heart, your soul, and Divine Guidance. In this space, there is more ease, less attachment, and more flow. The frontal cortex of your brain works better because in that detachment, you are relaxed, so you can see more clearly in any situation, connected to divine intelligence and wisdom.
Self-awareness is a spiritual practice, and one of loving compassionate discernment. This awareness comes from a commitment to creating a safe space TO BE SEEN. We all want to be seen and loved exactly as we are. Filled with judgments, it’s not so safe for YOU to SEE YOU, is it?
With a willingness to release judgment, all those aspects inside us that run away, fight, or hide frozen in a cave, can come nakedly into the light of our loving attention. We’re here to create a world where all are seen, loved, respected, included, thriving and cared for.
This starts with YOU and YOU.
Remember, spiritual practices are exactly that: PRACTICE. There’s no need to judge your practice!
Here is a practice around judgments:
Decide that today you are going to notice your judgments. You might notice one, or you might notice 1000.
When you notice a judgment, you might notice the story that goes along with it that justifies why it is correct, why you should continue to make that thing wrong or bad. This story might include physical proof, based on your experience, science, religion, the news, or well-documented data.
Nonetheless, just think of it as a story.
Let yourself notice the feeling that comes with the judgment. Place a hand to your heart and say, “I love you. Tell me about it. I’m here for you.” Trust whatever you notice. This could be emotions, thoughts, or physical sensations. Imagine you are viewing yourself from outside you, like you would a movie or if you were a bird high in the sky.
This noticing is freeing your energy! No running, no fighting, no hiding!
Next, bring in even more loving compassion and kindness. Imagine that the part of you with that judgment is a hurt child, or an innocent baby. How would you treat them? Would you yell at them, tell them to shut up, console them with toys or food, or hold them in your arms and let them know how much you love them?
This gives you an opportunity to uplift out of judgment, and be honest about your needs in the moment. Judgment is not bad, it just is part of the human deal. Once you let yourself actually notice a judgment, you can lift to seeing it as an opportunity. What is the opportunity? That’s for you to see. It could be love, compassion, forgiveness, tears of release, gratitude, setting boundaries, having more fun, being honest about what you want or need, or admitting a great dream or vision you have.
These opportunities are discernments, not judgments. And they come by releasing the judgment of the judgment, a willingness to be with YOU, exactly as you and are not in this moment.
Phew, what a relief! Let peace, gratitude, love or joy wash over you, because YOU are here to awaken to the FACT that you ARE perfect exactly as you are, perfectly unfolding, perfectly on your path, even those times it’s filled with pain, fear, doubt, or judgments!
It's not just you, my beloved. The world is transforming and we're all in this together. You are a master and expert in your unique experiences and contribution to the world. Together we'll navigate through these challenging yet oh so juicy and magical times.