Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Am I Afraid To See Within?

(I came across this not-so-simple and thought-provoking question on Corinne's blog EveryDayGyaan and absolutely had to answer it for myself)

I know exactly why I’m afraid to look too deep inside: I know for sure I will discover that I can do so much more with my life, that I have powerful resources to make tremendous progress and achieve success on so many levels. My huge potential – a sleeping giant that I’m so afraid to disturb. We all have those resources as well as our fears that come with the package: moving forward always means leaving the comfort zone, having to deal with often unforeseen consequences. Our ambitions and aspirations are encircled by the fear to FAIL, which frequently prompts us to hit the brake just as we are ready to take off and explore what's been waiting beyond the horizon. So we come back to the safety of comfort zone, which eventually turns into a confinement cell, because what’s not progress is regress.

But there is more in the dismal mix: sometimes we are afraid of the future victories for we can’t always know what price we have to pay and what gets lost along the way. As you sprint toward the finish line you anticipate excitement, delight from the upcoming celebration, but you end up feeling desolate, washed-out, indifferent to the prize. Was it worth burning yourself out like that?

Oh, and how much we are afraid to lose right after we win ( I may get a better job but what if I get laid off, whereas this current job of mine I hate so much provides enough security…) How frantically scared we are to expose ourselves to imminent pain we associate with risk taking. Isn’t it safer to secure your positions, to shrink, to become less visible, to keep to yourself, keep distance? But you should ask yourself if avoiding pain is the best way to pursue happiness…

I am afraid to look within because I am bound to find my suppressed inner voice that, once liberated, will scream: you need to change! You need to set upon the path of transformation, it’s time to take action, there’s so much work to do and life is so short!

I still find courage to look inside even if sometimes it’s more like momentary peeking. I learned by now that life is not about all or nothing, black or white. No one can transform overnight, or build a perfect living – it’s a continuous and scary process. But I can still take baby steps guided by those little hints I uncover from the quests within. I don’t have to see and absorb the whole picture right away, I am pretty sure I would get overwhelmed by the magnitude, bigness of what’s in there. I can explore the inner castle of thoughts, ideas, wishes, beliefs and feelings room by room, always on the go, always moving forward.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Good Luck!

I got into the waiting trap. For the whole month I managed to live my life like nothing was coming. I pushed the fear of uncertainly to the outskirts of my mind and went on almost carefree on happy projections. One day before the big event is the worst time one could imagine. You can no longer pretend you are as bold as ever and eventually you succumb to panic that makes you lose gravity and pulls you into the cosmos of uncertainty. And uncertainty breeds worst-case scenarios any movie producer would be jealous of.

So time stretches into endless units; I tell myself – I will know in 24 hours, in 20 hours, 15… but somehow the event is as far away as ever and I am stuck in every minute that drags feet like a stubborn mule, who was running fine just days ago. I do bless those minutes that I succeed to spend without thinking, when I manage to get distracted enough to make a leap in time rather than pity steps.

My insides are squirming and I doubt I will appreciate dinner much tonight. But I know things will change once it’s time to enter through the door. I will be brave and focused, and praying for luck, and thinking positively. One day before the big event… what a shakeup… Good luck!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hold Together

If you ask me, I can give you 10 reasons why I can readily fall apart at any moment. Fear, anxiety, worries, horrific projections can easily become the unwelcome hosts of your mind if you let them. Last night I woke up and, unable to fall back asleep, I let my mind race forward to the what-if territory, envisioning one bad possibility after another. I thought, what if something happens to my husband, how are we to survive? Right after thinking that one up, I engaged in frantic calculations of how I will be paying bills if it’s just my income: I will have to cancel cable TV, try to find cheaper internet, use less heating at night… I approached the challenge like the situation was real and I had to deal with it so that to stay afloat, not to sink torpedoed by the life hardships. Till I told myself: Stop! This is not happening! Go back to sleep!

I read over and over about the importance of staying in the present moment: there are enough books, blogs, articles that break it down for you in detail. But to practice the concept is not as easy as reading about it. Your mind often gets pulled in all directions, harassed by the images that were depicted by uncontrolled emotions and vivid imagination. It’s what you set against this pointless cycle that matters. You need to draw the much needed support from powerful sources that can lull the monster and ease this suffocating grip on your brain.

My family is far and our weekly communication consists of delicate attempts not to upset one another, which implies withholding sad events, mood or feelings. My friends are concentrated on their own problems, which they are more eager to discuss than mine. This leaves me with books (oh, the ocean of wisdom), thought-provoking blogs, written by similar seekers, pray, when things get really bad, or the great oblivion of sleep, when staying awake is intolerable.

The most important thing I should remember is that we are never alone, even though at times we feel like an outcast on the edge of the earth, forgotten by everyone and utterly lonely. Help will be sent to us if we encounter a serious problem, we won’t be fighting alone. A necessary shift in circumstances will occur if you believe it will, if you ask for it. Looking back I realize how many times I drove myself insane with worries, anticipating the worst outcome for the situation, but somehow it always ended well. So I may choose to be falling apart every minute of my existence or decide against it, pull myself together and fight vigorously to replace any negative thought with a bright one, to spot light among the shadows and keep my eyes on it as long as I can.

I hope more wise positive-thinking people will be entering my life to inspire me to make progress and sustain upbeat attitude. And I want to hope that light and clarity will prevail over confusion and gloom on most of my days. But when something negative happens – for real or in my imagination, I want to deliberately choose not to fall apart, for when I’m whole I can achieve so much more, than when I’m broken to pieces.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Power of Giving

Living in New York means that you are constantly approached by beggars. They are strategically positioned at every subway station you enter, they wander through the train you are riding on, rattling their half empty cup in your face. They seem to have doubled their efforts during the holiday season, springing up from nowhere, leaving me bemused: what do I do to attract them so much? I never give them money. Strongly convinced that I work too hard, that building my way up from zero doesn’t entitle anyone to demand a share of my sweat-covered earnings, I simply look away from their bold eyes.

And then I had a conversation with my mom about all these panhandlers interfering with my daily commute. She seemed disheartened by my stubbornness: “don’t give much, but do give them a little”, she said. She didn’t lecture me, or gave any sensible explanation - it was more of her intuitive feeling, or maybe religious belief, that this act of kindness, this simple charity, should earn you extra points in the afterlife.

So I started carrying around some change that I could retrieve quickly out of my pocket and give to homeless people on the street, or “starving” singers on the subway. Almost immediately I felt empowered by the positive energy that seemed to be released into the air with every act of giving. It’s not about what it did for the beggar, I doubt my modest donation changed anybody’s life dramatically, but it did change me. The realization that sharing a little of what you have can contribute to the overall level of the good in the world. What you receive from giving is so much more than “the nominal value” of your donation, it brings to the surface the kindness of your heart you didn’t know was there.

I’ve been struggling with the concept of giving love for quite some time now. I know that I need to give it unconditionally to make it fully blossom in my heart, but possessiveness and distrust dictate that I should keep it under the lock. Well, maybe I can’t give much, but I could start with giving a little. Just breaking the habit of guarding my possessions, learning to give can set me on a path to liberation, when I am no longer pulled down by the weight of my unshared riches.
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