The Role Of Mindfulness In The Process Of Self-Discovery Or ‘Be The Change’, But Be Patient

2021 is in full swing – and so am I. At least that’s the theory.

Practically I’ve been crafting THE perfect New Year’s post for the past two weeks – and of course I stressed myself out about it.

As I indicated in ‘outdated’, I want to start afresh this year – with my creative processes and also in my professional life. The year has just begun and I had already been pressuring myself towards ‘a new me’. Guess what? I cracked solemnly with this approach – and disclosed a deep truth: Change is hard.

Transformation is a long and tiring process. It requires determination. It includes the celebration of small wins and the acceptance of continuous losses.

This is what change is: It is the destruction of the old and the creation of the new – all at once. And: It is not a straight line. Inherently ‘change’ is messy.

“Being the change” – This is nothing simple to strive for. It denotes the turning of the tides and the solidity of a rock at the same time.

The other day, on one of my numerous walks during lockdown, I saw a sticker at a gutter that shouted the catchphrase: “Be the change.”

‘I am the change!,’ something inside of me shouted back.

I exhaled and felt a sense of ease when I understood: ‘I am a prototype. I evolve in iterations.’

These days we all are ‘the change’. And this big change doesn’t happen overnight. It is uncomfortable and debilitating at times and it doesn’t smell like incense sticks and essential oils.

These days I remember what this blog is about. This blog is the result of a lot of frustration and the realisation that there is no change possible in this world, if I don’t start changing myself.

“The first step is to become aware of the fog that is in your mind. You must become aware that you are dreaming all the time. Only with awareness do you have the possibility of transforming your dream.”

As Miguel Ruiz induces in ‘The Four Agreements’: I became aware that I am not aware, when I started this blog experiment in 2017.

It dawned me that I’m the creator of everything in my life – all the achievements as well as all the turmoil.

Only gradually I comprehend the depth of the deconditioning process I got myself into:

Most of our life is determined by the subconscious. And most of the time we are unconscious about what our subconscious is doing. That’s why it’s called the subconscious. I’m referring to psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung here, who determined the state of the art when it comes to shadow work. He claims: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

So, how do we not let the subconscious rule our life? Or let’s say: How do we become conscious of the unconscious?

Yes, we practice mindfulness. (Yay, I got there in the end…)

Even though mindfulness experienced a devaluation due to its inflationary use. In my personal journey of self-discovery it continually increases its significance…

So: “What’s the role of mindfulness in the process of self-discovery?”

I would say mindfulness is the protagonist of this whole play. (In the end it’s a game. Call it karma if you like.)

So, what will happen to your life, if you become more mindful?

1. You Will Arrive Where You Are

Okay, where to begin? Just to make sure we have a common ground to start from: How do I define mindfulness here?

When you research the science of mindfulness, the first thing you are going to come across is the practice of mindfulness meditation or zen meditation.

From a buddhist point of view mindfulness is the essence of meditation: By watching your thoughts pass you will create a gap between you and your thinking. You will eventually learn to differentiate the thought from the thinker. With time you will start to perceive reality in a different, less personal way. Zen master and buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh describes meditation as ‘a serene encounter with reality’.

A german translation for the word mindfulness is ‘Geistesgegenwärtigkeit’. ‘Geist’ is the spirit or the mind. ‘Gegenwärtigkeit’ is the presence. ‘Presence of mind’. What is the presence of mind, if we look at it plainly? It is being aware of what our mind is doing…

There was a time in my life when I couldn’t peel potatoes or wash the dishes without getting an anxiety attack. I was not able to focus on the present moment, because I was so tangled up in my to-do-list. I was so focussed on my achievements that regular household-chores seemed to be a waste of time to me.

There was a huge discrepancy between what I was doing in the physical world and what was going on in my head.

Life became very dissatisfying this way, because I missed it.

Through mindfulness I started to return to the presence. Already meditating for a view minutes a day changed my perception of the world around me drastically.

Especially through long-term-travelling I learnt to look closely at things. By looking closely at my environment, I learnt to look closer at my thoughts, too.

I became mindful. I stopped rushing and I started to enjoy the small things again.

2. You Get To View Yourself From a Different Perspective

‘To be mindful’ means so much more than ‘arriving in the presence’. According to etymonline it can be translated as ‘remembrance’. I like that translation.

When you become mindful, you start to remember – not only how much pleasure it is to walk slow or to prepare fresh food, but over time you will remember who you are deep down inside…

“Know thyself,” is the only way to go in the process of ‘awakening’.

How do you want to ‘know thyself’, if you never take the time to actually look at who you are?

Mindfulness is your tool in becoming aware of yourself: What are you telling yourself each day? What do you truely enjoy doing? How do you treat yourself? What do you put in your body? Do you use a lot of I ‘shoulds’ or ‘musts’?

From my current perspective on ‘awakening’ it is a constant process of surfacing – layer after layer after layer. There is so much to look at:

There is your behaviour.
There is your way of thinking.
There is your environment.
There are the activities you invest your time in, the people you spend time with, what you eat, how you are treating your body and so on and so on…

It sounds simple, but it’s a big step to look at all aspects of yourself.

3. You Will Identify Triggers And Find A Way To Transform Them

For me it is still a painful and tenacious process to admit that I am the one who creates everything in my life – every success as well as all the chaos. And I don’t mean this in a sense of ‘prompting an order to the universe’.

I create by acting – in one way or another. If I don’t take the time to look at my actions and the roots of my actions I won’t live my own life, but the life controlled by a mind that is hacked by it’s conditioning – determined by reaction rather than intentional deed.

Luckily life offers potential for growth around every corner: Triggers are the signposts towards the land of self-discovery!

These days I get triggered a lot! And every trigger shows me an arena of my life, where I’m not willing or not able to take responsibility for my own life at the moment.

4. You Will Reveal Your True Motives

A quote of buddhist nun Pema Chördrön demonstrates the role of mindfulness in the process of self-discovery: “The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.”

What do you want? And what do you think you want? How do you spend your time?

The more your start looking at yourself, the more you will ask yourself why you behave a certain way. And this is where the magic of mindfulness starts to unfold.

What drives you, really? What are your true values? Which values do you share with your friends and your family?

We are conditioned to believe in what we see. “To have faith is to believe unconditionally,” writes Don Miguel Ruiz in “The Four Agreements”.

What we see in our own reality is not what we are or what we are capable of. It is a story that either we have created ourselves or that has been told in order to make life a comprehensible experience. The human mind loves context.

It’s good to have context, but expansion can only happen if we create ‘space’ for ourselves. Imagine for a moment you would pursue exactly what you want to achieve in your life. You think you would fail? Have you tried it? I wrote an article on this two years ago

The more mindful you become the more you will realize that the image you have created of yourself is just – yes – an image. You can easily rewrite it, reframe it, recolour it. But first you have to identify which story you are telling yourself.

The more aware you become of your true feelings and your needs the more aware you will automatically become of which beliefs are holding you back.

Slowly you will uncover your motives, recover your faith and ‘reinvent’ your own conditioning. But remember, it happens in iterations. And iterations are NEVER a straight line.


5. You Will Eventually Start Acting

For a long time I wanted to learn another language apart from english. But something inside of me always blocked me from pursuing it. Until I realized that I just have to do it – despite the belief inside of me that I don’t have the capacity to do it.

The reality was that I didn’t even get started, because by default I thought I would fail. By practicing mindfulness I identified my false belief system. I found out that a lack of self-confidence underlies nearly every shortcoming that I perceive. My lack of self-discipline was caused by this lack of self-esteem.

So, how did I eventually start learning Italian? I established a tiny language learning routine. And with the first results my old beliefs started to fade. There was no foundation anymore for my old beliefs, because over time I undoubtedly made progress. When I ordered my first breakfast in Florence in Italian followed by a loose conversation with the waiter I couldn’t deny it anymore: I am able to learn another language! This experience of self-efficacy opened my eyes.

And this is how I’m wishing to approach all challenges throughout 2021 and beyond.


6. You Will Start To Love Yourself More

What I understood throughout the practice of mindfulness is that I have needs that want to be met. The more I understand this, the more I’m starting to value myself and the more I understand what this self-love is everybody talks about (including myself).

More and more I understand that I’m not crazy, but human. ‘A human in denial’ could be a title for my book. (I don’t know where that came up from, but I won’t erase it from this post. Who knows – maybe it’s valuable information.)

It’s a Process

Okay, I realized that this article doesn’t really find an end.
There are SO many aspects to address around mindfulness. What I wanted to get across is that self-development is called self-development for a reason.

There is something to develop. It is already there, but we can’t see it. Like a film reel. We need to soak in various liquids and hang from the ceiling to dry in order to get a full image of who we really are. But be careful not to overexpose. Haha, that’s what I like doing. It results in tears and lengthy blog posts like this one.

As I mentioned at the very beginning: change is hard. This whole awakening process is not a straight line. It’s easier said than done to transform negative thinking patterns. But it is not impossible. I have the suspicion that we reached a point collectively where change is not to be suspended.

To throw in another Thich Nhat Hanh: “If we want to become mindful rather than just knowing about mindfulness, we need to establish our own regular practice.”

It is easy to do things the same way over and over again. It is easy to cling to assumptions about the world and about ourselves, because they allow us to stick to our belief patterns. They are convenient, because they don’t require will-power.

It is an effort to change our belief system, yes. But it is doable with awareness, patience and compassion.

“nobody can save you but
yourself.
you will be put again and again
into nearly impossible
situations.
they will attempt again and again
through subterfuge, guise and
force
to make you submit, quit and/or die quietly
inside.

nobody can save you but
yourself
and it will be easy enough to fail
so very easily
but don’t, don’t, don’t.
just watch them.
listen to them.
do you want to be like that?
a faceless, mindless, heartless
being?
do you want to experience
death before death?

nobody can save you but
yourself
and you’re worth saving.
it’s a war not easily won
but if anything is worth winning then
this is it.

think about it.
think about saving your self.”

Charles Bukowski
 

Dream vs. Reality

dream shattering = reality building

 

Reaffirmation

Be happy for who you are, where you are. Don’t measure your worth in your productivity or in (what you define as) your success. Listen to your inner voice AND take action – even if it’s uncomfortable. Trust. Honour your past. Anticipate your future. Face every challenge with grace. Go the extra mile. For your own creation. Express yourself. Stop apologizing for nothing. Respect your boundaries. Relax daily. Channel your energy.
Remember who loves you and remember who you love and stick to those people. Walk with the ones who are excited about what you are doing. Don’t be mad at the ones who aren’t. Remember that nobody can take your joy from you. Transform negative energy into positive energy immediately. YOU are the alchemist. Stop taking your thoughts so freakin’ serious. If you are agitated, breathe. Allow flow. THIS is resilience.

Keep following your excitement in 2021 and prioritize accordingly.

 

Mindsetshift

When in doubt, be grateful.

 

Outdated

These days I feel ‘outdated’.

I don’t know exactly what I mean by that, but who the hell am I to know what I’m writing about?

I feel like I need an update.

Nope, actually I feel like I need a new harddrive; a super fast ssd with rapid mode if this is a thing…

The past couple of days I was punishing myself for not being productive – nothing new.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so busy preserving my sanity that I barely get things done at the moment.

Before/during christmas I wanted to post at least two more posts. I wanted to start using the writing software scrivener, I wanted to make up my mind about the direction I’m heading professionally next year…

It is a lot right now.

I feel like I’m standing at the intersection of a busy road.

Did I say intersection?

Not quite.

I feel like I’ve just gotten out of a deep forest after a long-distance hike and now I’m trying to cross a busy six-lane-highway….

Nope, I DON’T have all my ducks in a row right now. And my ducks are freaking out!

Plus:

There is a ton of unpublished material.
There are myriads of unprocessed ideas, half-finished articles and creative projects.
There are endless tasks on my numerous to-do-lists and endless things I want to get better at….

Stop!

There is something else beyond all this confusion…

There is this huge potential hidden in every challenge that I’m facing. There is this profound growth concealed in every solution that I find.

There is this deep knowledge inside of me.

I just know that it’s there – even if it’s not accessible to me…

Do I might also need a new graphics card?

There is this heartening trust in spite of all the uncertainty.

Mayyybee, only maybe the challenges of this year pay off?

“You are the only one keeping me sane,” a friend of mine – who admittedly is slightly mad (in the most positive sense) – pointed out to me.

THAT’S funny.

I feel like I’m going insane.

What did he mean?

Well, I have doubts and I have fears.

Throughout this year I learnt that I better be transparent with myself about my fears, my doubts and my pain.

Why? Because otherwise I get nasty. I’m starting to destroy things, because I’m blaming them for making my life not working.

But in the end it’s just a small adjustment that my soul is calling upon? Maybe I just need to refurbish my toolbox?

I better check for software updates before the end of the year…

All these lessons want to be integrated.

Maybe sometimes a reboot is the only option?

 

Manifest Boldly

Visualize fiercely.
Prioritize wisely.
Act resolutely.
Trust blindly.

 

How To Thrive In Times of Crisis?

I believe in miracles.

This year the universe conspired to an extent that I can’t simply call luck.

These days I’m blown away by the twists and turns that have occurred on my path.

My devotion to my personal journey is greater than ever.

My desire ‘to create’ is thrilling with a swooshing sound. There is this irrevocable force within myself that wants to express.

I don’t have the capacity anymore to carry out these patterns of self-doubt and hesitation.

I can see clearly now where my ‘shadow work’ of the past seven years had led me. (Nope, when I visited my first therapy session with a psychologist in 2013 I was not familiar with the term ‘shadow work’. But at this point I also didn’t know that I would actually find the answers in the corners where I want to search the least.)

Today I can see clearly in which areas I’m in need of support. I can see clearly in which areas of my life I have grown. I can see clearly where others could use my support.

It’s a process.

I can see clearly now that I have purpose.

This year was by far the most challenging year of my entire life. My mom got diagnosed with cancer. A relationship (I thought I was in) fell apart. This pandemic forced me to return home and explore my roots – radically.

I’m still searching for the words to describe what this journey looked like. As I’m aiming to finish this article (and eventually share some useful content) I won’t dive deep into it at this point.

I might have lost track for a while, but I have never lost hope. That’s what got me where I am now. Where am I? In a position that gives me the confidence to publish this here. And this already makes me proud of myself – for the very first time in a long time.

So. It is a pretty tough time for most of us. I’m speaking about ‘crisis’ from a existential point of view, but maybe you find some take-aways.

This is supposed to be a threesome;), but bullet point four is so important – I couldn’t leave it out.

1. Stick to Routines

…and if you can’t: Don’t be hard on yourself! Allow yourself some rest. Take a nap if you can or go for a little walk and just allow yourself a couple of minutes to breathe…

Take a step back and see, if there is anything else you can improve? And then find a different routine that might suit you better in your current situation. What do I mean by that? For example if you are suffering from a trauma it is very likely that you suffer from a temporary biochemical imbalance within your body. There is no point in trying to develop a rigorous productivity habit, while your body is in fight-flight-freeze mode.

The best thing you can do is attempting a routine that supports your physical body for example drinking enough water or meditating for five minutes in the morning or doing some stretching. Even the smallest goal will support you on your healing journey. How? Because you set an intention. And by setting an intention you are signaling to your subconscious that it is time for change.

2. Be Honest With Yourself

“You can’t change anything in a state of denial!” I don’t remember where I’ve heard this statement. Probably it was by Jeremy Goldberg from longdistancelovebombs. This is spot on and so my experience. The whole scope of ‘seeing things clear’ dawns me more and more every single day.

Acknowledge the crisis for what it is. No matter what you go through – is it a serious disease or a divorce. Be clear about the situation you are in and the challenges your are facing – even if you have to start your life from scratch. Sometimes you are being forces into change. Every new beginning also inherits a lot of opportunity to start things anew.

NO MATTER what you are suffering from – by being transparent with yourself about the blockages you are facing you are moving closer towards your healing. No matter how painful this process might be. If you leave out the ‘nitty-gritty’, you will never proceed in your personal development! The good news is: The moment you start seeing things clear, is the moment when your life takes momentum again… Which leads me to my next point:

3. Think Positive

Even in the darkest hour of your life you can choose. You can choose empowering thoughts. Or you can choose disempowering thoughts. Hal Elrod demonstrates strikingly where positive thinking can lead you. He suffered from more than one major strokes of fate and always recovered with sheer willpower.

These days it is sometimes hard to distinguish which thoughts belong to you and which to somebody else. In these times it is even more crucial to direct your thinking towards thoughts that serve you and that don’t drain your energy.

It is a bit tricky: On the one hand you are called to name your fears but on the other hand it is crucial to focus on ‘productive’ thoughts. When you find yourself in a crisis where you are not able to change anything in the external, there is one thing that you can change for sure: Your way of thinking.

4. Ask for Help

Big one – this is massive. I’m exploding of gratitude, because I am able to share this one with confidence now. ‘Asking for help’ was probably one of my major challenges this year.

“You will need help!” – Last year in November I met a shaman at the esoteric fair in Munich. He predicted the upcoming challenges on my path. “Me? Help? But I’m doing it all by myself! How can I receive help?,” my Aries-me responded panically with the outlook of asking for help.

The moment was there. One ‘tower-moment’ after another ripped my illusions about life apart. I had to re-gather myself. I couldn’t have done it by myself.

I asked for help. Who? Coaches, friends, family members, random strangers, doctors…. It changed everything – seriously.

Only now writing this down, I realize that this is material for another article. I can’t emphasize it enough: ASK FOR FREAKIN’ HELP! You will be surprised what the universe does.

 

Liberation

Release your past from regret.
Free your future from expectation.
Lift your vision.

Make space for expansion.

 

Autumn Leaves and Jelly Fishes

“It’s autumn. A good time to #reflect. A good time to not ‘be busy getting somewhere’.

A time to look at what this year had taught you. And to contemplate what’s worth carrying with you and what to better leave behind.

It’s the time to drop some weight.

Take a moment to just enjoy the spectacle, watch the colourful sky, embrace the early sunset and the leaves on the ground.

Allow #lightness inbetween your branches, your thoughts, your ideas, your feelings, within your heart…
Allow yourself to be on the ground together with the leaves.
Allow yourself to merge with the seasons.
Allow yourself to #recharge before a new phase arises.
Allow yourself to rest within every step, every move you make.
Allow yourself to be. Be present and listen to the wind….”

Autumn 2019

All year around the seasons are an inspiration for me.

Last November on a weekend trip to Budweis I contemplated on the falling leaves ‘merging with the ground’.

And so did I. I merged with the ground.

Yesterday morning in the park I had a moment of lightness. Where was it coming from? This rush of energy?

It was a freezing cold morning. I was walking with a warm coffee in one hand and my boyfriend in the other. The cold breeze on this late November morning refreshed my face.

I looked up to the sky where I could see some golden leaves dancing with the wind in front of my favorite church tower – in the part of Munich I currently live in.

(As most of you know by now I am a nomad from the heart and so far nothing could possibly stop me.)

I looked around.

“There is so much space.,” I said out loud. My boyfriend agreed without knowing specifically what I was talking about.

I was walking this path dozens of times in the last weeks on the way to the park.

But only now I could see this grassland next to the little pathway. It is kind of a meadow – just behind huge oak and beech trees.

I took the deepest possible breath through my mouth right down into my stomach.

Naturally my entire abdominal wall expanded and relaxed.

I felt ease.

I looked directly into the sun. She was blinding me tenderly.

I felt a huge sense of clarity.

Only a couple of days earlier I asked myself how I would possibly manage this dark season in Germany? The last years I had spent partly in Italy or India during the winter.

The last weeks I admired the colourful leaves – but kind of a sadness had been arising. A kind of grief.

But today I remembered…

Autumn is a time of immense transformation.

Autumn is a time of release.
Old energies are being released…

The trees drop their leaves and they make space for new shoots.

The harvest for this year is over.
Everything that doesn’t belong here anymore is being recycled.
The ground for the new is being tilled.
The restoration takes place in silence.

There is this enegy of renewal in every season.

We better roll with it and rest, restore and recover.

What does this have to do with jelly fishes?

Well, this post was intended to be about jelly fishes, but I didn’t quite ‘get there’…

So, I guess that’s material for a different story.

But did you know that some jelly fishes are immortal? 😀

 

Allow Destruction

Accept where you are.
Allow destruction.
Focus on the positive.