So many of us spend most of our lives in battle with ourselves, striving to be something other than what we are, maybe a little bit thinner, a little bit more organised, more energy, less anxiety, the list can go on and on.
I had been practicing mindfulness for a few years when I began to become more and more aware of the battle that I was having with myself. I realised that many of my thoughts were self critical, it was almost as if I had an inner bully. Through my work teaching mindfulness I have come to realise that many people experience a similar type of internal conflict. Isn't it sad that most of us spend our lives struggling against who we are.
The reality is that we can only ever be ourselves, we get one self, one body, one personality, one intellect, we can choose to spend our lives battling against who we are or we can choose to make peace with ourselves.
When we are in conflict with ourselves we experience inner turmoil. Our energy is directed inward and can easily get consumed in loops of negative thinking. When we choose to accept ourselves, there is peace, and our energy is directed outward, we can be more present for our family, friends and in our work, we can help others more.
Mindfulness gives us the gift of self awareness. Mindfulness practice shines a light on our experience. Often many of us are engaged in this inner battle with the self but don't know it. When we practice mindfulness we come to know our inner world and see ourselves as we really are.
So the first step is paying attention, noticing, what thoughts am I having about myself ? When do I turn on myself and tell myself that I am not ok? I can then begin to investigate my inner experience, how does it feel inside when I engage in this conflict with myself ? How does it feel to turn on myself in this way ? Bringing a sense of allowing and non judgment to this investigation. Noticing, this is what it feels like to be in battle with myself, this is what it feels like to put myself down, simply noticing and allowing whatever feeling or sensation that is there.
The next step is to bring acceptance to the self. Ask yourself the question, what would it be like if I no longer believed there was anything wrong? What would it be like if I could let go of this battle I have with myself? What if I could simply let myself be?
Tara Brach's RAIN meditation is a great resource which guides you gently through this process. The final stage of the RAIN meditation is “nourish”. Ask yourself how can I nourish myself right now? Perhaps by putting a hand on your heart, imagining love coming through your fingers and towards yourself. Perhaps by speaking to yourself with kindness, compassion and gentleness. Breathing in kindness, breathing in softness, just resting in this warm, open, gentle space. Offering yourself the space to just be as you are, knowing that you are just as you need to be in this moment, knowing you are perfect, complete and whole.
We can all chose to make a commitment to ourselves. We can decide to finally make peace with ourselves, to not turn on ourselves any longer. When we notice the mind drifting towards conflict and self criticism remembering this commitment and coming back to the RAIN practice.
Tara Brach has an excellent website with many guided meditations.
You can access her website here: https://www.tarabrach.com/