A few years ago I read an inscription in nursery rhyme book that was given to a newborn baby and it went something like this ~all that you need, you already have~. I distinctly remember thinking at the time… “I have no idea what this means? This is so not true, this baby was just born and has nothing, there is so much he has to learn and do and have.” At the time, I wasn’t a regular yoga practitioner and was pretty much one with my inner critic, I was deep in my story and in full-on reaction mode.
Fast forward about 8 years later and now it’s a quote that resonates with me deeply, it’s a mantra and a guide I use pretty much daily. So, here’s my take on it, I’d love to hear yours.
Love vs fear
As I’ve talked about before, our motivation comes from one of two places: fear or love… you can trace every feeling back to one of these two emotions. Marianne Williamson, Gabrielle Bernstein, Mastin Kipp are all people I follow who talk about this idea a lot. Fear shows up in the form of greed, jealously, pride, ego, scarcity… and the list goes on. Love takes the form of compassion, acceptance, patience, kindness, faith, hope, abundance… and that list goes on.
But you know what, when writing these lists the forms of fear came to me much quicker than the forms of love, and I think I know the reason for that. Look at a magazine, read a newspaper, watch the news and reality TV, scroll through Twitter… what are you more likely to see? A story or heading about something good in the world or a story about the thing we should be worried about today?
We are what we learn.
Back to the inscription on the book ~all that you need you already have~ and what it means to me now. Think about a baby, a baby is love. A baby does not know doubt, worry, greed, jealousy or any other form of fear. A baby is pure, untarnished love. Then we teach the toddler to be afraid of situations and things. We teach them to covet toys and possessions. We teach them the difference between good behaviour and bad.
As a child continues to grow they become concerned about being accepted and included, conforming and performing well. We share with our children our beliefs from religion to the environment, from politics to fashion and food. Children learn from their parents, their teachers, their friends and siblings. As we grow we do more of what we get praise and acceptance for and less of what makes people shake their heads or disapprove. By the time we become adults, we don’t know what it is that we truly believe and feel vs. what we believe and feel because it was imposed upon us over and over again.
Please don’t get me wrong, I do not think this is necessarily bad or abnormal. It’s life and can’t be changed. We don’t grow up in a vacuum, it’s necessary and good to be raised by a community and a tribe. But I think as adults we then have to become aware of our conditioning and start to peel back the layers. We need to find space to observe our thoughts and beliefs, think about where a thought or belief comes from and then decide if it serves us or not. It’s not easy to do, it takes practice, but it is a practice you can hone.
Do the work.
If you are familiar with Byron Katie, you might know her four questions. I find I usually only have to ask question one, sometimes question two, to stop me in my tracks. An awful lot of what I think it not true, it’s made up by me.
- Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
- Do you absolutely know that it is true? (Yes or no.)
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
So how about trying it now? What is a thought you have that is causing you a bit of stress? A thought you’d like to let go of but are finding it hard? Start asking yourself the four questions and see how you feel after. Again… it’s a practice, this does not work overnight.
To peel back my layers and uncover the essence I was born with, I have a few practices I employ. I’m certainly not perfect and these are a work in progress but when I use them, I always feel better.
- I don’t watch the news on TV.
- I limit where I get my news from and ensure it’s a reputable source.
- I have a morning routine to check in to how I feel before I get distracted.
- I try to limit my exposure to people who have a deeply fearful vibe.
- I breathe deeply.
- I practice and try to live my yoga.
- I eat mindfully and consciously.
- I get outside.
- I grow things… houseplants, sprouts, vegetables.
- I listen to inspiring podcasts and make notes.
- I read motivational books and blogs.
- I pay attention to my self-talk
I believe we are on a lifelong journey to discover our essential true selves, the person we are without the beliefs of others piled on top of us. It’s not easy and it takes work but so far, it’s a path I’m glad I’m on.