“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.” –Steve Maraboli
To my encouragers, my support system, my allies, my enemies: Thank you for your questions. Questions keep me on my toes. People who unconditionally love who I am and sweetly encourage my progress force me to be mindful of my why. And however unfortunately, people who wish to see me fail (why do we do this to each other?) teach me what grace means. How might I better respond with kindness to people who have proven time and time again that their existence does not help my existence thrive? Maybe, just maybe, every person I encounter doesn’t need to have a forever function in my life. So, when people ask me questions about my wake-up-and-shine attitude and seem kind of perplexed that I’m able to remain bubbly and optimistic despite my recent trainwreck of a past (read: totaling my car, being dumped, losing my job, and having to move back in with my parents on top of it all), it gives me the opportunity to be the beacon of light and walking testimony of hope that I feel so called to be. And, as a lovely side effect, it gives me moments of clarity when it comes to people and their purpose in my life.
I have to say that most of my transformation and personal consciousness cleanse is mindfulness. Almost 100%. It’s being aware of when I’m truly tapped in and knowing myself enough to really be able to identify what’s happening when I’m in that place – and it’s not a 24/7 thing. We want it to be though, right?
We love the high we feel when we’re living purposefully and in tune with what’s going on within us. Wouldn’t it just be oh so nice if we could live in that place indefinitely? Someone cuts you off during rush hour and maybe you respond by inhaling deeply and exhaling with radiating love instead of with profanities, a middle finger, or your best active bitch face (kind of like resting bitch face, except you actually put some added effort into making yourself look extra bitchy). Or maybe you have a specific plan for how a special evening will go, and instead of reacting from a place of disappointment when the time ends up looking colossally opposite of what you had envisioned, you take a moment to feel gratitude for an experience that really wasn’t that bad after all, albeit not exactly as you had wished.
You can put this into practice in your own life, too! That person you can’t forgive? Why? What might it mean about you that it’s so hard to respond out of love? Is there an opportunity here for personal growth? Are you ready? Of course, it’s okay if you’re not. Transitioning from the ego to the soul is hard stuff.
The thing is though, we’re all human. Well, we’re spiritual beings having a human experience, and so it’s impossible to live in and of this world and to be in a true meditative state all the time. What I’ve learned is that recognizing when you’re there is a huge part of healthy, mindful living. When am I centered? What does it feel like? How am I speaking? I’ve trained myself to become hyperaware of when I’m plugged in and how that enlightened state of being plays out in my everyday life and interactions. On the flip: If you’re not always in that state, if you slip up and fall down (as you sometimes will), where are you when you’re not there? How does it feel? What do your behaviors look like? What needs to change? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what my common denominators are. Maybe yours are the same, or maybe they’re uniquely your own.
I’m a professional worrier. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’ve hit professional status. I’ve been practicing and perfecting my biz in the worry world from the time the universe almost ended when I had to choose between whether I wanted glasses or contacts to be my “look” all the way to that one time I gave serious thought into what I’d say to the woman who doesn’t exist that my husband (I’m not even married) would court and seduce in a scandalous love affair that I completely made up in my [professional] worrier mind.
This is why men are right: all women are crazy. And just because I say that doesn’t mean I’m some feminist hater, because I’m all for strong independent women who raise hell and eyebrows all at the same time. But let’s just be real here and embrace the very raw truth that again: we’re all just human, and the mind is a wickedly powerful and mysterious tool, and we have nothing to be ashamed about when that atomic bomb of mind sometimes reacts from a place different and darker than that sanctuary of light and love and mindfulness that we know when we’re tapped in and that we strive for when we aren’t.
It took me many months, a failed relationship, and some really big life changes to come up with an identification system that’s authentic – some practical, honest, working ways to bring me from there to here, in the Now, where we operate more lovingly as the very best version of ourselves:
- Know Yourself – Set aside time every day to meditate, and focus on your inside energy and where your thoughts go. There’s no wrong way to meditate, and it looks different for everyone. Become aware of the voice within and the emotions that enter and exit without actually becoming those feelings and reacting out of them. This is the first step to knowing your soul intimately in a way that’ll allow you to make changes where they’re needed.
- Embrace the Binaries – If you’re able to recognize when you’re operating from a position of peace in the Now, become equally aware of when your behaviors are counterproductive. When do your fears cause you to dangerously hold on tighter, when does your need to control the things around you hinder your capacity to feel gratitude, and how can you bring yourself back?
- Transition from Awareness to Change – Practice detachment by allowing yourself to experience all of your feelings and emotions without permitting them to control you or your behaviors. Who cares if it doesn’t go your way? If you know yourself just well enough to know when you’re either plugged in or completely unbalanced, the awareness alone of your personal state of Universal harmony reveals what needs fixing. Be open to hearing these important self-truths. Make the change.
I’ve never liked the word detachment. Probably because I take things too personally and I’m notorious for getting my undies all in a bundle when my flaws are exposed. If there are two things about me that you should know and know well, it’s that I don’t like change, and that I’m borderline psychotic about needing to be in control. And, while I’m working on these things with great perseverance, sometimes bits of advice that are intended to be positive and encouraging, like Buddha’s “You only lose what you cling to,” hits an out-of-tune chord with me, and I become irritated. So, I’ll read something like that and then think to myself, “Oh, of course. This is totally referring to me. Because I’m just sooooooo attached to everything.”
Knowing myself and acknowledging the ego-soul binary has helped me to do many hard things, but amongst the most important: my newfound ability to decipher between the two. My ego rolls her eyes. My ego gets defensive. My pissed off ego will actually believe that the Buddha himself coined those seven words specifically to torment me…Carla. My soul asks questions: What is it about detachment that’s so upsetting to me? What’s the lesson to be learned here? How might I read this differently with a perspective that can bloom into something self-serving?
When I work with my flaws honestly and compassionately instead of defensively and with way too much sensitivity, I create room for my own expansion. The irony of it all: that’s exactly what detachment is. Letting go. Opening up. Keeping calm. Carrying on. Smile, sparkle, shine. Every time. No matter the outcome.
Bing, bang, boom! Shine on, lovelies!