It’s always interesting to watch the behaviour of young children. Always confident of their worth, sure of who they are, children have yet to experience what makes them “different” to others. They move their bodies without inhibitions and speak their truths without considering the reaction of others. They have yet to know what words like strange, odd or weird even mean.
Then we start the have more experiences, we encounter more people, and our differences become more prevalent. With time we start to become increasingly conscious of our self, or self-conscious. Our tribal nature convinces us that in order to fit in, we need to mute or turn down the volume of our true selves and adapt to be more like everyone else. We become brainwashed by societal norms, which is ironic when you consider we are all experiencing the same thing - changing to be a part of something but feeling ever more detached from ourselves. The more different we realise we are, the more we begin to identify with our otherness, seeing ourselves as broken or wrong.
Our experiences in life have subconscious imprints on our minds. These imprints condition our perspectives and thought patterns, which happen to be the lens through which we see the world, and can have a direct impact on our body. Through cultural and social conditioning, we begin to lose sight of ourselves. Some of us go so far as to “find ourselves” when in fact, we have been here all along. And when we struggle to find the answers we are searching for within us, we turn to the outside world in search of things that will help us regain control or turn to things that will help numb the pain. This, unfortunately, often results in behaviors such as perfectionism, eating disorders, and addictions.
Life becomes more about what others expect of us and what is required in order for us to fit in, and we grow farther away from our true essence. We care about what others think over what we believe. We care about how we look over how we feel. We begin to compare and to compete, unaware that comparison is futile and the race is ultimately with ourselves.
The more we start to realise who we are not, the closer we come to realizing who we truly are. We can change the negative programmings of our mind and the illusion that we need to be anything other than who we are. Like habits, these programmings can be broken, with awareness and practice. We practice yoga to rid the body and mind of these impurities and through self-study (svadhyaya) we can recognize how much of what we do and think is far from who we know ourselves to be. The Ego confuses itself for the Self and takes us off journey; we do things that don’t always align with with our values and beliefs. We judge, criticise, fall victim to fear and doubt - all of the things that hurt us. By studying ourselves we can learn to focus on higher vibrational energies and return to our authentic self - the only place from which we can thrive. Learning to be mindful (even when our mind is full), we can choose whether or not to engage with things that cause us harm.
Life is too short to spend it at war with yourself. Return home to wholeness.