Do you normally try hard to achieve something or be someone you aspire to be? If you answered yes, you might want to reconsider your attitude. Having said that, I’ve also tried super hard to be a better mom, better wife, keep myself in shape, more spiritual, and a better and more positive person in general. I even used to call myself a perfectionist. My trying hard did work, but it was also exhausting. I thought that was the way it was. Making effort is exhausting. How wrong was I to believe this!
Through my mindfulness meditation practice, I’ve realized that beneath the surface of my trying and achieving, there was a strong undercurrent of anxiety and fear - ‘I’m not doing it right’ or ‘I'm not (doing) enough’. It defined how I lived my life for many years. I thought if I tried hard enough or if I became more spiritual or whatever it was, then that undercurrent would go away. It never truly went away until I‘ve learned to soften and embrace the reality of myself and my life as they are.
Tara Brach, an author and leading mindfulness meditation teacher in the West calls this tendency ‘The Trance of Unworthiness’. When we are caught up in ‘doing’, we are often unconsciously caught up in identifying with the phantom thought of ‘I’m not enough’.
There is a simple 90 seconds solution to recognizing and breaking free from this trance.
Next time you are trying to achieve or do something go through the following steps, (which takes about 90 seconds):
Remember to take a step back in your mind and ask yourself ‘what is happening inside me right now?’
Check to see if you can sense the undercurrent of ‘not enough-ness’. If you do, investigate with kindness what emotion or emotions support that unconscious belief. Is it fear? Is it anxiety? Whatever it is, don’t judge, be scared or try to push them away.
Bring those emotions from your mind to your body. Observe the sensations of your emotions (hot/cold? dark/light? tight/specious? etc.) within your body without letting your mind engage in virtual monologue of thoughts! Eventually they release their tight hold on you (they always do).
Proceed to go on with your life project from a better place of awareness.
Your body is equipped to process any emotions in less than 90 seconds. The only reason why they seem to haunt you forever is because you keep feeding those emotions with your muddy thoughts, stories and mental chattering and roll on them without realizing you're doing that.
Brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor says in his book A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, ’…within 90 seconds from the initial trigger, the chemical component of my anger (any emotion) has completely dissipated from my blood and my automatic response is over. If, however, I remain angry after those 90 seconds have passed, then it is because I have chosen to let that circuit continue to run.” In other words, if we do not react to our emotions for ONLY 90 seconds, they will have no power over us.
When we’re in the ‘doing’ mode from the unconscious zone of unworthiness, it’s like we’re trying to walk in the knee deep mud and we don’t even know we’re doing it! You can imagine how draining it could be if we continue to live that way.
So try those steps. When we act from a place of awareness rather than from a place of inadequacy, you will be surprised to discover how light and joyous this messy life can be.
What the heck is Mindfulness Meditation?
Isn't meditation boring and difficult?
It doesn't have to be!
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