Finding Freedom By Going Deep
So often our ego delivers us stories to make us feel safe. But the truth is, these stories can often leave us feeling scared, overwhelmed, and anxious. Instead, what if we learn to go deeper? What if we learn to really look at these narratives for what they are: limiting beliefs running around in our heads.
We have the power to become observers of our thoughts, says mindful health practitioner and coach Jessie Douglass-Smith McGraw, and this allows us to take responsibility of our stories and gain control over our thoughts—and ultimately our lives. As Douglass-Smith McGraw points out in her insightful essay, we hold the key to our freedom and it's up to us to unlock it.
In this time when everything feels out of control and unknown—leading us to feel insecure, upset, and in a state of dis-ease—I would love to point you in a different direction to find some peace of mind. Firstly, while you read the following words, pay attention to any feelings that may arise. Instead of trying to chew on these feelings with your intellect, let them sink in in a deeper way. If you find yourself feeling more peaceful, continue to walk in that direction.
Secondly, I want to share something with you that has the power to be helpful and spark insight— if you allow it: There is no difference between our experience of life NOW versus our experience of life ONE MONTH AGO. You may say: But there is a viral pandemic on our doorstep. You cannot, in any way, compare this to my life one month ago. I hear you. It looks like our lives have been turned on their heads and we’re free falling in a world of unknown. But here’s the catch: Life has always been the unknown. Take a moment of pause there and read it again. Life has always been the unknown.
The only difference between what you’re experiencing now versus what you were experiencing before is that you aren’t able to fall back into your habits of thought. That is because your habits of thought can’t bring you peace of mind when life is irrevocably different from before. Take this into consideration: When we experience something tragic, like unexpectedly losing a loved one or getting into a car accident, we wake up to the fact that things aren’t as set in stone as they seem. Upon reflection, we realize that we take our daily lives and the way things are for granted. But then what happens? More often than not, we go back to our regularly scheduled programs in our lives and our minds. We don’t take pause when we’re thrown back into our typical thought systems and question the channel we’re stuck on—even if that channel is keeping life mundane. Why is that? Our egos (the thoughts we have about who we think we are and what we think life should look like) make us believe we’re protected by their constant opinion because they pull from life experiences, memories of the past, and judgements. Things happened in our past that our ego relies on. Those things were real THEN. But now, they are only a dream of the past being carried through time via our thoughts.
When we find ourselves struggling to take steps in a new direction, or when we've felt overwhelmed or cornered in our minds leaving us feeling anxious and insecure (a familiar feeling given the current state of the world), it’s because we keep listening to our ego that looks like it’s protecting us. But here lies the freedom: When we wake up to the fact that all of it—our ego and the evidence it brings—is merely an illusion with which we’re trying to navigate life, we break away from being passive victims to our thinking. Instead, we become observers of our thinking. This allows us to take responsibility for our old stories and choose to no longer allow them to color our present moment. In just looking in that direction, you will inevitably experience a deeper place within us that is a constant.
We no longer have to be searching for peace in the moving target of our rushing thoughts, but rather we can go the other direction, to a deeper dimension of wisdom that resides inside us (some may call this our gut instinct or intuition) that is consistently full of love, understanding, contentment, RESILIENCE, confidence and peace. THIS is where we can hear new and fresh thoughts to move us forward. Where we can get ideas out of the blue, where insights occur to us that give us new thinking. As Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
What I’m pointing you to as we walk through new norms, dear ones, is your gift. Let it do the heavy lifting so you can enjoy the newness of your experiences.
Jessie Douglass-Smith McGraw is a Los Angeles-based mindful health practitioner and coach. To learn more about her practice, and to book a session with her, visit: whatmovesyoula.com.