Wanting to know ourselves, understand our place in the world and our soul purpose is as old as humankind. The rise of our global pandemic and quarantines have paused all society from the frantic pace to a much slower lifestyle. Humanity is seeing a shift in how we spend our time, while including a focus on political, social, economic, human and educational issues; also, has forced a shift back to self.
For the first time in decades technologically advanced societies are not moving at breakneck speed. We are forced to slow down. This not only has forced us to see and acknowledge global, country and local issues but personal ones. Our lives are quiet enough for us to see where we are in our lives. To notice something beyond our busyness. There is a rise in depression and anxiety that I believe is bigger than the pandemic. It is a loss of sense of self.
Many of us are taught to define ourselves by the job, income and home that we have. That also influences who we spend our time with, the places we go and activities we engage in. Quarantine has stripped all that away. Each of us is left facing the same uncertainty of health and economy. Plus, we have time to see beyond our hectic bubbles and see the many problems and inequalities that humanity still has not solved or even acknowledged.
With all of this laid at our feet our world view shifted overnight. This touched each of us as an individual, whether or not we want to admit it. There isn’t any one of us who is not going through some sort of personal evolution at this time. A personal reckoning of who we are.
Google the phrase ‘journey of self-discovery’ and you will find articles, blogs, web posts and quotes aplenty. Knowing who we are and our life purpose is central to an individuals need to fit in and find a place in the world. I believe it is why we are obsessed with labeling ourselves and others. Human beings need things to make sense and fit together. This gives us a sense of control and order in our lives.
Control starts with knowing you, truly and honestly knowing you. The you in your heart that you do not speak about to anyone. The one who is afraid of being made fun of for liking XYZ. That is the you. That is the person you need to know and cultivate to have a life you adore.
How do you get to know yourself? Make yourself a priority. Set aside 30 minutes a day for just you. Is 30 minutes too scary? Then start with 10 or 15. Make you a priority for that amount of time. Ready? Great! Now what?
I have previously discussed Meditation and Mindfulness, these skills are a great way to know thyself. To go with this I would recommend a journal. Something that makes you feel wonderful and delicious or an old notebook or a private document on your pc. It is your choice. Those who love journalling are probably squealing with delight. For those of you who despise journalling or have never tried it … breathe.
Journalling is simply a private place for you to have conversations with you. Yes, you can have them mentally or out loud, but journalling will let you look back later and remember with clarity things that your subconscious mind has brought forward. This is important because it can often be the most enlightening part of the work to get to know yourself.
This is the part that will help you admit what truly does and does not make you happy. Where you feel uncomfortable. Define blocks in your energy and emotions. Things that tie up your growth; especially hidden fears and feelings.
If you have never journaled before it isn’t that difficult. No one but you will ever see it. This is between you and you. A place for your mind, body and spirit to connect in authenticity without fear of judgement. A place for your true emotions and thoughts to come to the surface and express themselves. NO JUDGEMENT. TOTAL SAFETY.
Wear comfortable non-restrictive clothing. Have the journal of your choice and pens or power supply. Also, a gentle timer.
Find a comfy place to sit and place your supplies next to you. Set a timer for 7 minutes, but make sure whatever tones you use to bring you out of it are gentle and slowly increase in volume. You are trying to relax, not restart your adreneline.
Begin your timer and close your eyes,
Then breathe …
Slowly, in through the nose until you have taken in as much air as possible;
then slowly exhale through your nose until you have expelled as much air as possible;
Repeat until the timer goes off.
You will find your mind drifting to thoughts. Simply bring your awareness (be mindful) to your breathing and the movement of air through your body.
This is your entire goal for 7 minutes.
After your timer has gone off, restart it and pick up your journal of choice. Put pen to paper and begin to write. The goal here is to keep your pen moving (or fingers typing) for 7 minutes without pause.
If you do not know where to begin here are some prompts:
Hello beautiful/handsome self. I am beginning a new journey of Know Thyself. I started with a breathing meditation and now I am writing in this journal.
If at this point you don’t know what to say, continue with: I don’t know what to say so I will tell you about my day. After I woke up this morning I …
Soon you will find the timer has sounded. You can either continue writing or stop. The choice is totally yours.
Obstacles. Every single one of us has obstacles. Every single one of us can think of reasons to not do this.
Here are some of mine:
* There is too much housework to do and if I don’t do it, it won’t get done
* My kids are too little to be left unsupervised
* My partner will feel neglected or ignored
* The puppies will destroy stuff if they are not being played with
* I’m too busy
Let’s get some perspective on these “reasons” a.k.a. obstacles:
* There is always going to be housework and it is never going to be done. Tell your family you need help, it will be the first of a zillion conversations you will have with them about restructuring expectations of who can do what around here. Your loved ones giving you 15 minutes isn’t going to end the world. In fact, it may just make your part of it better.
* The kids. If they are infants or babies, they do sleep at some point. Try it then and if you fall asleep there is the next time you nap. Just accept your house and you are going to be some form of tired and messy for the first two years and you will retain some of your sleep-deprived sanity. Older kids. Let me guess they are always begging for tablet or tv? Make it a win-win give them 30 minutes of television or tablet for your 15 minutes of sanity. Give the older ones some sort of treat for wrangling the smaller ones while you do this. With some training, it works. Currently, my 8 & 6 year old are with the 3 year old on tv. They have been taught to help him with the potty and get milk/cereal/granola bars while I work in exchange for accumulating free time of their choice (usually a game).
* My partner isn’t a baby and he will be the first to tell me to do what I need to do. Because if I am happy with myself, I am a better partner and parent.
* The puppies can either be watched by the kids or like infants they too will sleep, eventually.
* I’m too busy. Open your calendar. Pick a time of day that feels right, morning, evening or afternoon … schedule 20 – 30 minuets for the next 7 days each day for you. You are in your calendar and just as important as date night, kids play dates, picking up the dry cleaning, work and whatever other social things are there.
* Post this mantra on your mirror, in your wallet, in your cell phone case (wherever you will see it): I am important. I am valuable. I am a priority in my life … repeat three times each time you see it.
As one overworked, overextended, struggling human to another … I give you permission to give yourself this delicious gift.
Try this and let me know what you think.