Create the Life You Imagine ~ January 2019
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Most of us have heard these words from the French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, but this awareness represents a major shift in the way we live our lives. The great spiritual teachers, philosophers and poets throughout the ages have all pointed to this fundamental truth: As human beings we have a dual nature, part human and part divine, and our task is to discover our true home. You might think about these two parts as your small self and your True Self, and if we pay attention we can notice both of these selves operating in our daily lives.
We all have a small self that spends most of its time and energy with the goal of survival. It focuses on the outside world and spins around throughout the day figuring out how to please others, protect itself, avoid pain and pursue pleasure. Because the small self focuses on the outside world, it has a difficult time finding the stability it seeks because the conditions outside are always changing. This small self is prone to shame and regret about the past, anxiety about the future, worry about being alone and vulnerable, comparison with others and scarcity thinking. It tries desperately to control all the conditions of life and when hard things happen experiences feelings ranging from disappointment to despair. When it experiences disappointment and struggle, it doubles down on its usual strategies and generally experiences more of the same. Even when things in life are good, it flattens out our emotional experiences as it watches and waits for the other shoe to drop. The small self has difficulty sustaining a general sense of calm and wellbeing, much less experiencing a steady stream of happiness and joy, because it is always out of contact and connection with its true home.
Our True Self, our Soul, is grounded in our spiritual nature and is always connected to the stream of divine love and belonging which is the essential nature of the Universe. This connection is part of our divine nature and doesn’t depend upon the conditions or circumstances of our life – it is always and forever present. Our Soul doesn’t judge us or others. It doesn’t keep a score card of our shortcomings or wonder if we are measuring up. It doesn’t look anxiously into the future for it lives in the deep trust of the present moment. Its only invitation is for us to remember who we are and to find ways to live in greater and greater alignment with our divine nature and our highest possibilities. Our Soul Self holds our restless, reactive and ruminating small self and all of our life struggles with great love and compassion, knowing that we will eventually find our way home.
Most of us spend the first half of life living largely inside the world of our small self. We may have glimpses of our Soul Self or peak experiences seeing life from this more numinous perspective, but most of us find it difficult to quiet down the anxiety and reactivity of our small self for sustained periods of time. This is even more challenging in the pace and uncertainty of current times and accounts for the record levels of anxiety, depression and addiction being experienced by both young and old in our American culture. The antidote for the small self is to cultivate a relationship with our True Self. We must actively nurture our relationship with our Soul and build our capacity to live life from our true home. Part of this work is just becoming familiar with these two parts and becoming increasingly suspect of the version of life being offered by the small self, while making our Soul Self knowing more conscious in our awareness.
About twenty-five years ago, exhausted by the life deadening dance and demands of my small self and longing to make a shift in the way I was living my life, I hired an amazing artist to create a border of words around my living room. Along the long wall she scripted the quote, “Let Everything About You Breathe the Calm and Peace of the Soul,” and along the side walls the words Faith, Laughter, Love, Gratitude, Hope, Compassion and Joy. These elegant eight-inch words encircled the room above windows that looked out every day on a beautiful landscape of trees, water and sunlight. It was either a desperate call for help or a deep intuitive awareness that there was another way to live, probably both, but I discovered that I breathed differently in that room surrounded by the power and energy of those soul words. They reminded me every day to shift from the limited thinking of my small self to the unlimited power and presence of my Soul Self. It was the beginning of an intentional spiritual journey that has led me into a deep relationship with my Soul and to a deep trust in the process of life.
Those words on my wall held the real promise of my Soul. The small self will always leave us wanting because it isn’t our true home. If we want to cultivate more calm, peace, faith laugher, love, gratitude, hope, compassion and joy in our lives, it is imperative that we engage in a daily practice to increase our awareness of our Soul connection. Last week I invited you to begin a deeper conversation with your Soul in 2019 and to begin to listen for that “still small voice” more intentionally as you navigate your life. Throughout the course of this year’s reflections, I will share with you what I have learned through thirty years of practice and study about making this shift from the small self to the Soul Self. I look forward to walking with you as we find our way home.
Wishing you the blessings and light of the soul, as you create the life you imagine.
Consider finding a space in your house where you can create some energy that helps you remember your connection with your soul. It could be a whole room or a corner of a room, a small table, shelf or another space where you can use color, words, inspirational quotes, a painting, pictures or other visual reminders that help you connect with the energy of your soul. Make it a place where you will see it every day and make it a point to pause regularly and breathe in the energy of this connection each time you see it. Invite this energy into your life this week and notice how your soul will point you to just the right place and lead you to just the right colors, words or images to create this sacred space.