Most of us have a desire to know ourselves. We feel as though there is a deep and true part of us that holds answers to questions that have plagued humanity for eons. Questions like, “Why am I here?” “What am I supposed to do with my life?” and “What gifts do I have to offer to the world?”
Unfortunately, most of us feel blocked from the answers. It’s like there’s a thin (or thick) fog that keeps our True Self hidden from us. At times, however, we feel the veil lift. This typically happens in situations like gazing at the stars or looking into our children’s eyes or sharing a deep part of ourselves with a lover.
What do all of these situations have in common?
We are fully present. In the moment. Not distracted.
During these times, we feel a connection with something much bigger than ourselves. And for some people, this feeling can even turn into an enlightenment experience. For the rest of us, we catch a glimpse of what’s possible.
We sense the common humanity that connects us all. And we feel awe. @BethanyButzer
(Click to Tweet!)
Then the veil snaps shut.
We find ourselves back in the “real world” with all of our problems and obligations. And we forget how thin the veil really is.
Personally, I think there’s a sneaky habit that keeps most of us from knowing ourselves. It’s called distraction.
We distract ourselves in a multitude of ways, but a few common examples include alcohol, the internet/cell phones, food, and TV. We use these things to soothe ourselves when we feel pain, instead of dealing with and feeling whatever it is that’s painful. We use these things to avoid facing our demons, to placate the negative voices in our heads, and to avoid experiencing what’s right in front of us: life.
The past seven days have represented the first week of my eight-week sabbatical. I’m living in a cabin in the woods with no TV, limited internet, and limited cell phone. We need the internet so that my husband can run his business – but I’m limiting my usage. The cabin is on an island that can only be accessed by boat – there are no streets, no cars, no sidewalks, and no stores. In other words, I have very few distractions. On the one hand, this has been liberating. I wake up every day without an alarm clock. I don’t feel any pressure to hover over my email or constantly check my phone. Every morning I drink tea on my front porch and watch nature unfold. Every night is pitch black and completely silent – aside from the occasional loon call.
On the other hand, this is excruciating. I have nothing to distract me from me. I can lay in a hammock with my thoughts. I can sit on the dock with my thoughts. I can hike with my thoughts. When night falls, I could wander around with a flashlight – but I choose not to because of the bears. My evening no longer involves distracting myself with a Netflix binge. It’s just me, my husband, 450 square feet, and…our thoughts.
This experience has reinforced the concept of “monkey mind.” My brain is like a monkey, bouncing from tree to tree, wondering, “Shouldn’t I be doing something purposeful right now?” “I wonder what I’ll make for dinner.” “Man this bug bite is itchy.” “I hope that deer comes back to see me tonight.” “Maybe I should go out on the boat.” “I hope it’s sunny tomorrow.” etc. etc. etc.
In my old life, these thoughts would be pushed into the background by the multitude of tasks that I needed to get done that day…or the Facebook feed that I checked regularly…or the latest episode of [insert show name here] on TV. Now, my inner workings are open and bare for me to see. And as painful as this can be, I also realize that it is a doorway. By witnessing my thoughts, ruminations, and distractions without judging them, I edge closer and closer to simply being present – with Me. The True Me. The part of me beyond the veil.
These days, the mundane tasks of my old life, like doing the dishes or making dinner, have become front and center. I’m no longer rushing through these things, hoping to finish them as quickly as possible so that I can get started on the next thing on my To Do list. Instead, I’m doing my best to be fully present for these events – to experience them as important in and of themselves – simply by virtue of the fact that I am blessed enough to be alive, doing them, without distraction.
You might not be able to take a complete time out in your life right now. But what if you could do just one small thing each day to minimize distractions?
Maybe you could limit your Facebook use. Or the next time you’re waiting for the bus, just wait – instead of pulling out your phone. Perhaps you could meditate for five minutes a day. Or enjoy your cup of coffee without surfing the web.
I encourage you to find a sliver of time to just be with yourself. This time might feel challenging at first – but it will serve as a doorway – a bridge that will bring you one step closer to your True Self.
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution.
If you’d like tips on how to create a life you love, plus some personal instruction from Bethany, check out her online course, Creating A Life You Love: Find Your Passion, Live Your Purpose and Create Financial Freedom.
Image courtesy of pexels.com