It’s a mantra meditation that we used often in India, and I find it so calming and heart-centering.
Inhale “so,” exhale “hum.”
The simple words meaning, “I am that.”
And then, came the tears.
I talk about how we are not broken or missing any pieces and how yoga offers us tools to live more harmoniously. We are not lacking. We are whole beings.
In order to create a statue, a sculptor merely removes all the stone that is not the statue; nothing is added to the stone. Likewise, the practice of yoga is not about adding anything to the individual.”
–Judith Hanson Lasater
I often cite my personal favorite of the yoga sutras of Patanjali (Ch 1, Ver 2 + 3):
Yoga is the resolution of the agitations of the mind.
Tada drastuh svarupe vasthanam
Then the seer abides in its own nature.
These words comfort me, allow me to feel that I am not alone and remind me that I have powerful tools to draw from. I’m comforted knowing that through the practices of yoga I can calm the wild fluctuations of my chattery mind and work to remember that I am good, that I am LOVE, that I am not broken, flawed or deficient in any way and that I belong here.
ALL. THE. TIME.
Perhaps the origin doesn’t even matter!
What feels like it matters the MOST right now is that I’m ready for a massive shift.
I’m tired of the repeated stories that don’t serve the greater good; the ones that keep me from loving fully, from stepping into epic greatness, from having profound compassion for myself and everyone I encounter.
I realize that the work begins at acceptance.
And, I’m ready for Radical Acceptance.
I’m going on a journey and I challenge you to join me.
In chapter one, Tara calls it the Trance of Unworthiness. We all have our own solidified stories of what’s wrong with us. We all have fears: fear of failure, fear of being perceived as stupid, as boring, as selfish or insecure, of not being fit enough or attractive enough. Somehow in our culture, we learn that we are not valuable or worthy or acceptable.
Being in this trance leads to addictive behaviors like working a ton, eating too much or too little, drinking too much or over-exercising. We find ways to avoid and numb. We try to protect ourselves by hiding because if we reveal too much, “they” might not like us. We hold back, we try to “manage” everything in our lives. We plan, anticipate, worry. We feel differently from others and this creates even greater separation. Then, this perpetuates more fear. Then, this leaves us feeling alienated. Then, we’re alone. And, all of this moves us further and further away from feeling at HOME in ourselves!
It’s a vicious cycle and I’m ready to explore something NEW. Are you?
So, how do we awaken?
Let’s simply start by heightening our awareness around when the “unworthy” thoughts are happening.
In her work, Tara often uses an acronym — RAIN:
R – recognize what is happening
A – allow life to be just as it is
I – investigate the inner experience
N – NOURISH YOURSELF
So, let’s just try to notice when the inner critic rears it’s head! Notice the next time you are triggered with emotion, the next time you feel that you have moved into the space of judging, justifying, over-eating or drinking, RECOGNIZE when you’re not liking yourself so much.
PAUSE. Know that it’s happening. Simply notice. Be the observer of the experience. Take a moment to feel into the emotion that is present in an open and non-judgmental way.
Then, ALLOW. It’s as if you simply say “yes” to it. It’s ok, even if you don’t like the feeling. Allow it to have a place to live for a moment. Soften the mental resistance around it. This is what’s here and I accept it. Give it space and be in the pause.
– What’s really going on?
– Where do I feel it?
– What am I believing?
– Why do I feel the way I do?
– What do I really need right now?
Then, NOURISH yourself. Surrender into love. How would you respond if it was your best friend going through the same experience? Respond with that kind of compassion and understanding. Lean in to yourself with that kind of love and empathy.
Take the time post-RAIN to observe how you feel. Let it all marinate. Allow the subsequent feelings to be reinforced and not just passed over.
Even just the simple statement of “yes” versus “no” can feel incredibly liberating. Walking through these steps I’ve experienced feelings of expansiveness, spaciousness and it’s as though there’s been a shift in my overall identity. Perhaps touching on my true essence as a human being. Be with exactly what you feel post-RAIN.
Please take a moment to do this Guided Reflection. I pulled this directly from pages 22 & 23 Radical Acceptance. Consider journaling…journaling helps me soooo much to extract thoughts, emotions, and to move through ideas. Plus, it gives me something to refer back to, to reinforce the work I’m doing.
Now, ask yourself the below questions honestly. Some will resonate, some may not. Just flow through and feel them.
Recognizing the beliefs and fears that sustain the trance of unworthiness is the beginning of freedom. You might find it useful to pause for a few minutes to consider the parts of yourself that you habitually reject and push away.
Do I blame myself when I get sick?
Do I feel I am not attractive enough?
Am I dissatisfied with how my hair looks?
Am I embarrassed about how my face and body are aging?
Do I judge myself for being too heavy? Underweight? Not physically fit?
Do I accept my mind as it is?
Do I judge myself for not being intelligent enough? Humorous? Interesting?
Am I critical of myself for having obsessive thoughts? For having a repetitive, boring mind?
Am I ashamed of myself for having bad thoughts – mean, judgmental or lusty thoughts?
Do I consider myself a bad meditator because my mind is so busy?
Do I accept my emotions and moods as they are?
Is it okay for me to cry? To feel insecure and vulnerable?
Do I condemn myself for getting depressed?
Am I ashamed of feeling jealous?
Am I critical of myself for being impatient? Irritable? Intolerant?
Do I feel that my anger or anxiety is a sign that I am not progressing on the spiritual path?
Do I feel I’m a bad person because of ways I behave?
Do I hate myself when I act in a self-centered or hurtful way?
Am I ashamed of my outbursts of anger?
Do I feel disgusted with myself when I eat compulsively? When I drink too much alcohol?
Do I feel that because I’m selfish and often do not put others first, I’m not spiritually evolved?
Do I feel as if I am always falling short in how I relate to my family and friends?
Do I feel something is wrong with me because I am not capable of intimacy? Am I down on myself for not accomplishing enough—for not standing out or being special in my work?
Often we perceive the trance most clearly by recognizing how we want others to see us – and what we don’t want them to see. Bring to mind someone you’ve spent time with recently – someone you like and respect but don’t know well.
What do you most want this person to see about you (e.g., that you are loving, generous, attractive)?
What do you NOT want this person to perceive about you (e.g., that you are selfish, insecure, jealous)?
As you go through your day, pause occasionally to ask yourself,
“This moment, do I accept myself just as I am?”
Without judging yourself, simply become aware of how you are relating to your body, emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
As the trance of unworthiness becomes conscious, it begins to lose its power over our lives.
It exists in all of us.
It’s here in all the pieces of my shame
That now I find myself again.
I yearn to belong to something, to be contained
In an all-embracing mind that sees me. . . . —Rainer Maria Rilke
For some of us, the “voices” might be a little louder and more nagging than for others but we all have room for growth, for expansion and for developing a greater capacity for love.
As I’ve been observing my own repeated thoughts more and more — YOU GUYS!!! — it’s crazy to me how often I find myself deep in the Trance of Unworthiness! I knew I had some fears and doubts but it’s surprising how often I’m really hard on myself, how challenging it can be to see my own value. And this just reinforces that it’s time to rewire some wires! Creating new ways of thinking, shifting the lens through which we see the world is challenging but powerful work. For me, it’s time…I’m committing to feeling all the feels and dropping in to accepting what is REAL in every given moment that I possibly can.
It’s time to loosen the grip of the Trance of Unworthiness.
It’s time for Radical Acceptance.
‘Cause, I am that. “So hum.”
And, so are you.
Thank you for joining me on this JOURNEY!
If you can start the day without caffeine or pep pills,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches & pains,
If you can resist complaining & boring people with your troubles,
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,
If you can overlook when people take things out on you when, through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,
If you can take criticism & blame without resentment,
If you can face the world without lies & deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs…
Then you are probably a dog.