Do you love yourself enough to stop working on yourself yet? Who would you be in that case?
This is our second Quest2017 prompt, provided by author, Shambala Buddhist meditation teacher, and speaker Susan Piver.
I read these words and think of the affirmation, “You are enough.” If indeed I am enough, then I don’t need to work on myself. I am not a fix-it project. I need to continue becoming more deeply myself. I need to experience, reflect, learn, evolve and grow. I need to notice when I can do better and do what it takes to act on what I notice. I can continue to become more. I can:
Be patient, and develop yet develop more patience.
Be kind, and become infinitely kinder.
Be accepting, yet stretch myself to become more accepting.
Be courageous, and become more courageous still.
Becoming more deeply myself is a process of being, a process of awareness, a process of doing. It unfolds naturally, as does the blooming of wildflowers, though not without effort and energy. This process happens best when the conditions are right.
Perhaps creating those “right conditions” is the work of becoming more deeply myself. What are these conditions?
Creating opportunities to reflect. I do this in varied ways. I do it through bicycle riding. You’d be amazed the feelings, ideas and thoughts that float up when your body is engaged in rhythmic effort and your mind must remain in the moment in order to keep you safe. I do this through writing. Not every day – I’m not good at daily ritual, but regularly. I discover what I think and feel as I write. I heal from past difficulties as I write. I articulate my vision for a better world as I write. I do this by creating or looking at visual images, collage, doodles, drawing, photographs. I am not an artist. I have to put aside pride when I show others my art, a good exercise in itself.
Remembering self-compassion. If I angrily denounce myself, criticize myself, reject myself, deny my difficult feelings, and hide my vulnerabilities, how can I have compassion for others? My hyperactive inner critic sometimes hijacks my thoughts and my voice. I don’t always realize that this is happening. Others point it out to me, and I have learned to pay attention to them. I use their cues to replace the inner critic’s voice with that of an inner caregiver.
Taking care of my body. I create a schedule that allows periods of rest even during busy times. I exercise. Right now, I am learning to accept the limitations imposed by undergoing chemotherapy. I tire easily. My heart pounds and breathing becomes difficult on even slight exertion. At times the need to nap overtakes me. I accommodate these limitations and do what I can. I accept and/or ask for practical help and emotional support. I let myself feel and express the range of emotions that that are part of living with cancer. I allow myself to feel the love that surrounds me and lifts me up.
Recognizing spiritual needs. In response to our first Quest 2017 prompt I described myself as a healer and bringer of hope. This means both acknowledging our struggles and suffering and recognizing our strength, beauty and courage. The Society for Humanistic Judaism says “We believe in the human capacity to create a better world.” I participate in that effort, supporting my own and others’ capacities to create a better world. I do this in my personal life and in my work.
Staying connected. This means being part of a network of giving and receiving, caring and being cared for, teaching and learning, playing and laughing nourishes body and spirit, promoting growth and discovery. In recent years, I moved 35 miles from the Washington DC orbit to the Baltimore area. I left my full time employment in favor of solopreneurship. These have been good changes, but some of them have meant the disruption of of existing friendship, neighborhood and workplace connections. It’s taken time to establish new connections. I have done this by seeking out new colleagues, babysitting young friends’ babies, volunteering for my local co-operative market, helping establish a new freelancers’ learning and networking meeting, and being part of an existing local networking group.
Standing up and speaking out. It is not enough to have my heart in the right place. To be more deeply myself requires alignment of mind, body, spirit and action. The words of the Baltimore area’s #DoTheMostGood guide me in this: Act with love and kindness. Support policies with which we agree; make our voices heard when we disagree. Stand up to hatred and division in any form. To do this, I need to know what I stand for and what I stand against. Doing this requires facing fear and uncertainty. It involves strengthening and acting on hope. It means working with others to realize the power of collective action.
Becoming more deeply myself is about being a self in context. This is a DIT – Do It Together – process, as described inTracking Wonder’s Business Artist Manifesto. It is through engagement and exchanges with others that I become more myself. As I become more genuinely and deeply myself, I contribute to those around me more deeply and more effectively.
What about you? How would you respond to Susan Piver’s prompt?
Everyone’s invited to be part of Quest2017, which continues throughout the month of December, 2016. This is my third time to participate. It brings you into closer connection with yourself and a growing pack of fellow questers. I’ve made amazing connections here, and had the opportunity to exchange ideas, humor, and deep thought, and to give help when asked and to receive it when needed. Tracking Wonder’s Chief Wonder Tracker, Jeffrey Davis created it to support creatives, professionals, and business artists in shaping the year ahead. Learn more about it here. You can connect with visionary Susan Piver on Twitter at @SPiver.
Previous Quest 2017 Post
A Sampling of Others’ Quest2017 Posts
I’m Questing Again – Alicia K. Anderson
Meditations for the New Republic – Lauren Iuppa Ayer
Dam, I’m A Channel – Lois Kelly