Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Trusting Yourself First

It can sometimes seem like awareness brings pain. If we are numb to difficulties they seem to not really be there, so why not just actively ignore them and maybe they will go away...

Well, most of us have spent many years trying that until we realise that difficulties only truly go away when we accept them deeply and either do something about them or let them go.

When ignored or hidden, the difficult lives on, frozen in time, buried alive and causing tension and disease.

A few weeks ago, I was made aware of something that upset me. It was an ethical issue to do with others. I was caught between wishing I didn't know, and aware that I could do something about it, albeit with much discomfort.

Today I did something about it, and now I feel so much better. I got clear that my intention was only to bring more light into the world. I trusted myself and have now let it go.

This was a clear example to me on how cultural conditioning can stand in the way of acting from mindfulness. When we are following the cultural rules of: keeping the peace, keeping our head down, not making a fuss, not rocking the boat, not wanting to look too big for our boots etc., we let our culture and not our own wisdom be in the drivers seat of our lives. 

Years ago, I read a book by Irish author Dervla Murphy, in which she recounts her time working with Tibetan refugee children in Dharamasala, India, during the 1960s.

Her story is quite harrowing in places, yet she speaks about the happy, kind and contented Tibetan children. She had never before experienced such joyful and self-aware children.

On reaching India the kids had serious difficulty with disease. Living high up in the cold, clear, dry mountains of Tibet there is little or no need for washing. In cramped and hot in India, not washing meant disease or death.

Although amazed at the children's happiness in the midst of such physical suffering, Dervla could not agree with one particular thing about them - the children would tell on each other when they had done something wrong. They didn't think twice, they would just snitch.

No matter how much she valued the wonders of this new culture, she could not get over her own conditioning that snitching was dishonourable. The cultural taboo was so strong in her that there was no way she could entertain the possibility of 'snitching' being an act of care for the individual and wider community. 

I believe that snitching is a terrible thing in western culture because we are also so entrenched in judging and blaming people who do 'wrong'. Without blame, snitching is just sharing awareness - shedding light on a problem that needs some attention. Without blame, there is no need for the snitching taboo.

How would it be for us to stop judging ourselves and each other? How would it be to just be aware and act from love and kindness? Of course, there still needs to be accountability for destructive action, but this responsibility can happen more effectively without condemnation, and has greater possibility for long-term rehabilitation.

All our outer behaviours begin with how we are with ourselves. Imagine accepting your horrible thoughts and emotions without blame. Imagine allowing them to be there, knowing they are just flowing through you. You are changing, like everything else in life. No blame, no shame, just change.

Not shedding the light of awareness on our weaknesses allows them to thrive, like germs and disease in hot air.
Awareness brings peace and health. Awareness with compassion cleanses away all dis-ease.

Rest in blamelessness for 5 minutes

  • Take a slow deep breath in, through the nose, deep into the belly, hold for a second, and then release slowly through the nose...
  • Take another slow, deep breath in and out.
  • Now let your breathing be natural, accepting and relaxing control. 
  • Feel your bum on the chair, your feet on the ground.
  • Notice your hands and release any tension alive in them.
  • Sit where you are for a few minutes, and allow whatever arises to be met with deep love and care.
  • Whenever you're finished smile, and remember that this peace is available in any moment.

The more we make peace with ourselves, the easier it is to be aware of the wrong-doing of others without blame.  

Without blame you are infinitely more powerful to affect positive change in the world.


Read more of Dervla Murphy's stories here.

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