I have, throughout my life found myself drawn to helping others. I have always enjoyed watching them ‘at the wheel’ so to speak. Seeing how they navigate through, steering and driving constructing the building blocks that make up their life experiences. I have learnt much of what I know of the world from this kind of observation. Of course, at some point I had to jump in and take the wheel myself, and upon doing so I wobbled with butterflies in my stomach. Getting more confident and stronger with practice as I too built my life from building blocks of experience. I am sure you can relate, we all initially learn by watching others, our parents, older siblings and all the people around us as babies and young children. Drinking in the behaviours of others with wide eyes and innocent wonder. Then one day, some years later we take the wheel ourselves. There are perhaps a few of you out there that took to it without fear getting it right first time round, but I am fairly sure for most of us it was, and still is, a bit daunting at first taking control and learning to trust in our abilities. This for every new thing we take on, easier to stay in your comfort zone and not deal with the hassle!
Ajit Nawalkha used an analogy that I enjoy. That of a pilot whilst learning to fly a plane must of course learn some technical aspects, the many buttons, dials, what to press and what NOT to press. However, whilst these technical aspects are essential it is not knowing these that makes a good, or proficient pilot, it is the many, many hours flying that establish her or him as a pilot in the end. It takes time. It is this time that we put in that establishes us as proficient experts in the eyes of others and ourselves.
I just want to repeat what I mentioned above, it is the effort that we put into something that in time establishes us as proficient experts, and this goes for anything!! I am not saying that budding doctors now only need grab their teddy bears and a scalpel and go to town, soon you will be able to perform surgery, no, please do not do that. But what I do what to highlight is that we all need practice, that which we want to get better at we must dedicate ourselves to. That goes for hard skills that we may need for our jobs, also the softer skills, our mental states, our internal development. Confidence, the ability to be true to ourselves, to listen to our inner sages and to not shy away from what we want for fear of not achieving it or not being up to the job. We all, every one of us have the ability to free ourselves from the cages that we create and imprison ourselves, through practice. These cages are the worst kind of prison, they are not only constructed from our insecurities that we believe and hold dear, further the walls of this prison are invisible, often we may not even know we are imprisoned.
Have a think about what you would like to do more of, be better at, what is it that you would like to look back in one years’ time and say, wow, I did it. I can now….. speak confidently to an audience, I have mastery over my drinking habits, or what about I can now speak another language. Now pay attention to the voice inside of you that belittled the ideas, that stole the spark of light in you when you first thought of what you could achieve, it is this emptying feeling that comes from your internal prison. It has become an automatic response. Every time you get yourself up to go for that jog, or eat that healthy meal, it is the prison inside that tells you it is too much effort to put on your running clothes, or reminds you that the fast food menu is in the second drawer. Here comes the good news.
We as a species learn and develop through patterns, through repetition. This is how we learn. All behaviours that we perform have been learnt, some from watching others, some from actively applying ourselves and many come to us implicitly through daily patterns that we ourselves do not notice happening as they do. This is both hard, practical skills as well as soft, psychological ones. When you start to drive a car you think about it all of the time, once you have done it for some time, you can go on a drive and once arrived if you cast your mind back you can’t even remember the drive as you were thinking about something else, or listening to the radio. It has become second nature. Being happy is not always a choice, smiling when you don’t want to is hard. Sitting among people feeling sad and putting on a brave face and smiling because that what everyone wants and expects, can be the loneliest time and feeling. No-one knows it or sees it, but you feel it. If you ever feel lost, alone, sad, dark, empty find the place you find comfort in. Get comfortable in that space and seek out something new in that landscape. If it is sitting by a window reading your book with your cat on your lap and a warm cup of tea. Go to that place, sit there and as you go to take a sip of your tea, look out the window. See what you can see.
Look at the trees in the wind, a butterfly in the garden. Imagine their life force coursing through you. If you can’t quite feel it, put yourself under that butterfly’s wing as it flaps, feel the wind rush past, use your imagination and feel the power that your mind has to take you to places and see colours, to reach heights that we as humans in the confinement of our bodies could never do, fly over the clouds, visit the stars. This belongs to you, and no one else, it is the power of your beautiful mind and cannot be taken from you. What this shows you is that you can see things differently, to add perspective and give yourself breathing room. We all are able to create space and depth within your our own minds that allows us to soar. Find your calm - go there and find yourself. Imprisoned in our bodies we are able yet to do such great things beyond the thought and capacity of the ‘normal everyday world’. This is yours and it is an extremely powerful tool.
Now take yourself back to that moment when you are sitting with everyone around you forcing that smile on your brave face, look around you. Seek out the butterfly, feel the colour in the wind, feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, feel it course through your veins. The simplistic beauty of everyday things that pass us by constantly can often be the key to finding our own release from our prisons within our minds. After all, if you can build a prison out of insecurities, imagine the palace you could build out of all of the colours in the world, stacked higher than the clouds above and all pulsing with a warmth that glows just for you. Imagine that. All it takes is practice. Hours and hours of seeing the details in between and giving them your attention, saying ‘hello’ as they pass you by, and to the next as it comes forward. Much like the pilot, you need practice, so start today.
Take a deep breath. You have got this. Every time I think of this it makes me feel so powerful, so very alive, and strong. I want this for you too, I want to hold your hand and walk through your palace gardens and admire at the wonderful delights you have thought up to be there. So, walk with me, learn to free yourself with the untapped and incredible power of your mind and imagination. Some more great news is that the more regularly we do something it becomes habit, imagine knowing how to find happiness in the speed of a thought, without even having to think about it! Do this regularly and you will be able to go there and feel its power whenever you need. You will sit in a situation where you would normally feel uncomfortable, recognise that feeling, remember your bright colourful garden that is always there for you, forever, feel a smile form across your lips and notice how much more at home and welcome you feel in the physical situation you are in. This is how you can free yourself; this is how we all can, and this is a power that we all, every one of us hold.
Now isn’t that something.