Living the Manifesto – Connect to Your Self

23/4/2014

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Translation of a buddhist teaching.

Off the back of lovingly releasing the Pockets of Peace Manifesto (and associated goodies) late last year, I’m excited to launch in to a brand spanking new six-part blog series called Living the Manifesto. In this series I’ll be featuring each of the sections individually, pulling them apart a bit and examining them more closely.

I’m fascinated by the power of communion and the importance of connection, particularly the cyclical circularity of it all. With the Pockets of Peace manifesto I wanted to pull apart and explore how best to access peace, through several layers of connection – starting with ourselves, and moving through intuition, spirit, others, the world and the universe. Each can be isolated, but all can be experienced at the same time. I believe this happens when we’re ‘in flow’ – unaware of space and time, slipping in to a vortex which is in this world but not of it, imbued with energy that spurs us in to inspiration, joy and blissful peace.

With the manifesto, I wanted to explore these levels separately and provide short and sweet signposts to what I’ve found are some of the best ways cultivate ease, peace and happiness in my life, at each level of connection. My aim is to encourage people to dive in wherever they feel comfortable, taking what they need and leaving the rest.

SELF

So often we look to external conditions, people, places, situations, ‘things’ and assign them all the tacit responsibility of ‘making us feel good’. And usually when ANYTHING rocks the boat in these external circumstances, we get thrown off course. Shaken. Battered. Bruised. Defeated.

After travelling this well worn path, we all hopefully realise that instead of allowing the slings and arrows of our external world to dictate our sense of wellbeing, we see the sense in fashioning an internal anchor to steady the ship, regardless of what’s rattling around on the outside.

PoP_Pinterest_Self-01

You are enough.

If there is one thing I absolutely know for sure, it’s that inner peace, wellness, ecstatic joy or whatever nirvana you seek in to perpetuity, is not going to be solid or reliable unless you truly love and care for yourself first and foremost. A previous post of mine, This is Not a Drill, delves deeply in to this topic.

Truly loving and accepting ourselves begins with knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are all enough. Sing it. You were born enough, you still are enough, you will always be enough. So much of our angst and anxiety is tied up in madly trying to do, push, prove and purchase our way to worthiness. Most advertising takes advantage of our ‘not good-enoughness’ and a myriad of corporations duly line their pockets with the cash we hand over as penance for being ‘less than’. Until we come to terms with the fact that we ARE enough, just as we are, we will continue to self-flagellate and look externally for validation.

Deep belly breaths and moving mindfully

Both of these practices immediately bring me back to the present moment. Whenever I feel frantic or panicked, three deep yogic belly breaths are the first thing I reach for to calm myself. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times this simple practice has mitigated wigging out on a pretty grand scale. It’s also my fallback meditation practice if I need to centre while moving – say, in the shower or while brushing my teeth.

Deep belly breaths also move us from our heads and in to our bodies. Moving mindfully helps us to stay there for awhile. Walking meditations are one of the best ways to anchor back in to your body, in to the present moment and out of your ego mind. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, ‘there is peace to be found in every step you take’, if you do so with presence.

I find there’s no better way for me to drop from my head in to my heartspace and body than doing an hour or so of hatha or kundalini yoga, or a quick spin of running around my neighbourhood. When I make the time, bush walks and going to the beach also help me sink in to and inhabit my body completely.

When was the last time you truly inhabited your body, and not just your head?

Create. Write. Recharge.

I firmly believe we’re all creative beings. I don’t care if you can’t draw portraiture to save yourself, since when did this become a mark or measure of creativity? Just because you got a D in grade eight art, doesn’t lump you in to the sphere of the non-creative. Sorry, I’m not buying it as an excuse to not be creative. There are a myriad of ways to express your creativity that do not involve a 2B pencil and sketchpad. Styling your home, building things with your hands, finger-painting, writing down your thoughts in a journal, cooking – the list is literally endless.

One of the best insights in to the importance of creativity and connecting to ourselves comes from Brene Brown, vulnerability and shame researcher (and all ’round amazing human). In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection Brene says:

“There’s no such thing as creative people, and non-creative people. There are only people who use their creativity and people who don’t. Unused creativity doesn’t just disappear. It lives within us until it’s expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.”

And the kicker, from her appearance on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday:

“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow, shame.”

You hear that? It’s actually a bit bloody dangerous to ignore your creativity. So, do yourself a favour and connect to your creative forces, and the peace that comes with this, on the regular.

Writing is one of my primary portals to creativity, and to peace. And not just writing for people to read, but random journalling in a random notepad. It has so many therapeutic benefits, the major one being that unhelpful thought loops tend to cease and desist once you acknowledge them in writing.

Recharging is an obvious portal to more inner peace, but it’s something we often forget in our over-scheduled, jam-packed, go-go-go lives. Add more yin to your yang. Turn off the television, quiet your mind. Ixnay on the external stimuli. Plug back in to stillness. Everyday.

Connecting to Self in Action

Here are a few exercises to help you put these suggestions in to action:

Your baby photo – I first heard of this exercise through Kris Carr and I think it’s a fantastic one – get a baby photo of yourself out of an old album. Stick it up somewhere you’ll see it regularly. Anytime you start to think you aren’t enough, just as you are, remember the unconditional love we extend to babies. They don’t need to do anything to ‘deserve’ love and affection. You’re still that precious little cherub, use this photo as a reminder.

Self-love and care exercise – This is a Louise Hay special. Look in to the mirror and say ‘I love you’ every day for the next week. Sounds odd, and maybe don’t do this in a public toilet, but it’s a super interesting exercise – especially to gauge where you’re at in the self-love stakes. If you severely blanch at doing this, you’ve got a long way to go, baby.

Three deep belly breaths –  Do this when you next feel flustered or stressed. Breathe so that your stomach expands, then your mid-section and lungs, then all the way up to your collar bones. Hold it in for a few seconds, and then slowly empty your lungs. This will break the circuitry running through your head for a few moments. It also stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, immediately calming you down.

Move yourself – Ask yourself how you enjoyed moving your body as a child. Was it through dance? Just playing? Riding your bike? Find your favourite movement and schedule it in 2-3 times this week. While you move, be conscious of how it feels in your body. Feel yourself from the inside out, from your toes to your head. Try this for three weeks and you’ll begin to form a habit of moving your body, mindfully.

Do something you love – Give yourself permission to do something your love, for the pure enjoyment of it, every day. Allow yourself to be creative. Get some paints out and finger paint. Savour a raw hot cacao drink. Play in a playground. Watch Game of Thrones (again).

Books to read:

Peace is every step by Thich Nhat Hahn

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

You can heal your life by Louise Hay

The gifts of imperfection by Brene Brown

How do you connect to yourself? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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