1982 began my quest to understand my life and the world in which I lived. I journeyed to Paris, Hawaii, Virginia and Washington D.C. and back to the inner realm of my life. Life was a mystery that I wanted to unravel. My mind is an inquisitive nature that seeks to understand.
The biggest discovery thusfar has been the power of the human mind to reconstruct life. I am a student of Psychology and just recently Buddhist Psychology, which explains the nature of the mind. I have come to believe that the Mind contains all the knowledge of all time. It is like a reservoir.
We as humans have created the internet to resemble this mind. At any time, I can pose a question, and have it answered. All the information I may need is at my fingertips.
There was this gnawing feeling inside of me. I wondered why I acted the way I did. A Psychology class opened the window to my mind and heart, and I found a lacking. A lacking for love and a lacking for genuine relationships which caused me to seek out attention in unhealthy ways.
I identified with the problems in my life. Was I crazy? I wondered what was wrong with me. I tried to uncover the source of my suffering. I did not know what it was, so I invented something. I was depressed. I had Anxiety. I had Anger Issue. There were many negative labels I attached to myself because I did not know who I was. Thirty years later that quest has led me to the internet and the boundless array of information that I can consume and quench my thirst for understanding.
Uncovering a Big Secret
There was a big secret, and I wanted to find out what it was. The secret lay buried in my life. It was the secret about who I was and what I was here to do. I saw glimpses of a life I desired. The images seeped out into my daily life. I was confused and held self-doubt about what I was capable of. I did not fully believe in myself and consequently I lived in fear and self-doubt.
I was a Black Woman in a male, white Christian society. When I looked in the mirror, a Black Woman was the reflection I saw. I must be wrong if they were right, so there must have been something wrong with me.
That Black Woman, who one Summer decided to sign up for Army R.O.T.C. to prove her worth. If I could do what the white man did, I must be as good as him. I watched one supervisor at work and figured if I dressed like him then I would be a part of the work environment. It did not work; management terminated me from this job. I was a loner, a thinker and a reader, who tried to find out who and what she was.
Non-Feance is Failure in doing; especially that which is essential for Happiness & Emotional Well-Being.
“If you bring forth what is within you,”
“What is within you will save you.”
“If you do not bring forth what is within,”
“What is within you will destroy you.”
My Young Life
My father always said, “obedience is better than sacrifice.” I never knew what he meant. But today I know that every one of us have come to earth to fulfill a mission and if we fail to satisfy it then our lives will experience unrest. It’s like living life aimlessly, going to work, coming home only to do it again without any significant purpose.
Most of my young life I lived under the protective arms of my father and mother. They took care of my basic needs. I learned to depend on them. I never questioned their intentions or the intents of the adults around me. I believed in the Bible and its’ teachings and the Church as the living embodiment of all that is good. I never thought much about my life. I just lived and followed the direction of the adults around me.
Growing up and going away to college brought freedom from the scrutiny of my parents. I started to feel as if something was not quite right. I enrolled at the local Community College and my eyes began to inquire into the meaning of God and Life.
In a Philosophy class, the college professor posed a question. He asked what would change your perspective about life. My answer was. What if there was no God? To be continued.
There are two aspects to the self, the universal and the personal. They both must be respected if you are to be happy and free. During childhood, the self can be created in healthy or unhealthy ways. The development happens so naturally that we soon began to realize we are different and separate from our parents.
All this is normal as we grow and develop and are influenced by our immediate environment. Nevertheless, as we grow and mature, we begin to see ourselves in relationship to others in healthy or unhealthy ways through two processes.
The first self-view takes experiences as I, me, or mine. As a child, I created a self-based on feelings of unworthiness and being unlovable. After that, all my experiences mirrored this back to me. The second self-view is a compared view, which evaluates the sense of self as better than, worse than, or equal to others. This identification repeatedly happens whenever we hold our feelings, thoughts, and perceptions as me or mine during roles we play. I lived in the darkness and shadow of a true self.
Mindfulness allowed me to see what was invisible in the experience and investigate my feelings without judgement. I’ll introduce this step later. I saw how identification with the tentative and impermanent nature of the experience created suffering. I had to learn how to release my mind from this hurt.
While I was experiencing the pain of not feeling loved or valued, I looked to the clouds, and imagined I was floating on the lining with lightness and calm. This helped me release myself from the limiting beliefs that I was unlovable. These thoughts were created in very young mind too inexperienced to evaluate adult behavior. The less we cling to our beliefs, the happier we will be.
What I would want for you is to develop a self that is independent of the thoughts you have and the story you tell yourself. Learn to observe your thoughts without getting lost in them. Let go of the idea that you must believe every thought you have.
Walk into a situation with openness and abundance and the entire world opens. You will be able to see clearly which direction to take. On the other hand, if you have a pre-conceived notion of how things should go and if they do not you cling then suffering will ensue. Let go of the image you have of the self and you will experience fear, but a greater person will emerge, your true self. When we marry, we let go of being single. When our children leave home, we let go of managing their lives.
Another way we identify is by seeing ourselves as members of an ethnic group, religion, tribe, caste, and class. While searching for an understanding of self, do not ask about class, race, or birth. Instead, ask about heart and conduct. We can examine our self -image, our tribe, and our roles and acknowledge they are tentative. We can learn to honor them without becoming lost in the role.
There is Power in Purpose. Discover your purpose in life. It will direct your actions. Fleeting emotions and transient experiences will no longer consume you. Integrate the mental, and spiritual aspects of life and become a Powerful Presence in society.
Your Feelings, Beliefs, and Emotions
Beliefs motivate much of our behavior. They determine what we see, hear and how we behave in our daily life. During the Empowered Woman Module, I want you to examine your beliefs to see how they affect your everyday behavior and determine if they are who you truly want to be.
There is a deeper reality rooted in our emotions. You will learn to recognize it. But, first, realize there are two primary emotions. One is love and the other is fear. Everything else is a variation.
The fear-based emotions are loneliness, guilt, shame, anxiety, sadness, and depression. They create long-term effects and suffering. They damage the immune system, the endocrine system, and every other system in your body.
On the other hand, love-based emotions will bring you emotional and physical well-being. They are a joy, happiness, caring, trust, contentment, and satisfaction. Learn to live with your emotions and release them. You cannot control your feelings, but you can learn to be with them, transmute them, and live peacefully with them.
One of the most useful and grounding ways of attending to our body is the practice of walking meditation. Walking meditation is a simple and universal practice for developing calm, connectedness, and embodied awareness. It can be practiced regularly, before or after sitting meditation or any time on its own, such as after a busy day at work or on a lazy Sunday morning. The art of walking meditation is to learn to be aware as you walk, to use the natural movement of walking to cultivate mindfulness and wakeful presence.
To practice, select a quiet place where you can walk comfortably back and forth, indoors or out, about ten to thirty paces in length. Begin by standing at one end of this “walking path,” with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Let your hands rest easily, wherever they are comfortable. Open your senses to see and feel the whole surroundings. After a minute, bring your attention back to focus on the body. Center yourself, and feel how your body is standing on the earth. Feel the pressure on the bottoms of your feet and the other natural sensations of standing. Let yourself be present and alert.
Begin to walk a bit more slowly than usual. Let yourself walk with a sense of ease and dignity. Relax and let your walking be easy and natural, as if you were a king or queen out for a royal stroll. Pay attention to your body. With each step feel the sensations of lifting your foot and leg off of the earth. Then mindfully place your foot back down. Feel each step mindfully as you walk. When you reach the end of your path, pause for a moment. Center yourself, carefully turn around, pause again so that you can be aware of the first step as you walk back. You can experiment with the speed, walking at whatever pace keeps you most present.
Continue to walk back and forth for ten or twenty minutes or longer. As with the breath in sitting, your attention will wander away many times. As soon as you notice this, acknowledge where it went softly, “wandering,” “thinking,” “hearing,” “planning.” Then return to feel the next step. Like training a puppy, you will need to come back a thousand times. Whether you have been away for one second or for ten minutes, no matter. Simply acknowledge where you have been and then come back to being alive here and now with the next step you take.
Use the walking meditation to calm and collect yourself and to live more wakefully in your body. Practice at home first. You can then extend your mindful walking in an informal way when you go shopping, whenever you walk down the street or walk to or from your car. You can learn to enjoy walking for its own sake instead of the usual planning and thinking and, in this simple way, begin to be truly present, to bring your body, heart and mind together as your move through your life.