Perseverance and Recognizing the Ego

I’ve been reading this awesome book on rock climbing called the “Rock Warrior’s Way – Mental Training for Climbers” by Aarno Ilgner. For rock climbers, you know that climbing is a very challenging sport, not only physically but mentally as well. You are faced by your own fears, all of your physical weaknesses are exposed, you get hurt over and over again, you fall off climbs, you can’t make it up – many reasons some have given up the sport entirely, but we don’t, because of our love for climbing.

Perseverance is key, and whether you wish to apply it to rock climbing or situation in life, I think these first few pointers can definitely change the way you view the challenges ahead and will make you a happier person altogether. Why? Because when we feel like we’ve “failed” we are discouraged and disappointed and this mental state is reflected upon our entire life, affecting our relationships, our performance at work, our health even, making us feel like crap and like we should just give up.

It is important to recognize the work of the Ego. Taking climbing for example, many climbers get to a crag and look around comparing themselves to others even before starting climbing! (we do this unconsciously and in many other social situations as well). The Ego wants to know where it stands, so it drives us to compare ourselves to others, making us feel superior or inferior to those around us. Noticing this is a good first step. Only then we can become the Observer.

Next, we climb. As we take a fall or can’t make it up a climb, we kick the wall, screaming that “this route sucks!”, blaming the belayer, the holds that are too crimpy, our stupid fingers or our weak forearms for not sticking it, etc. Other times we come down the wall in silence but angry and disappointed at our poor performance, pouting and discouraged, telling ourselves that the route is too hard and that we’ll never make it up. The thing is, whatever level you are climbing at, whether a beginner or a 5.12d climber, this happens to all of us. In fact, many of us will choose to stay on easier climbs in order to always succeed and avoid being discouraged… but in doing so, we are also avoiding progress.

So yesterday, I decided to lead up a hard climb (Sausages 5.10b) which I had only ever tried on top rope before. Although I have climbed it at least four times this season already, and many other times in the last years, it has always been a difficult climb for me and I have fallen off many times during each ascent, leaving the crag feeling frustrated. The difference now is not that I am stronger or more experience, it is that my mental state has started to shift. And so, as I fell off the climb the last few times, instead of being discouraged, I asked myself “What did I learn?”.

I lead and fell off the climb over the fourth bolt this time. But instead of being discouraged of not having made it up to the top on lead, I asked myself again “What did I learn?”. Well it turns out that I have learned how to do the first part pretty well because I use to fall over the 3rd bolt before! Now that’s rewarding :) I made it up higher than before and I did all that while on lead. And although I fell, as I came down I was happy and was already thinking about what I had learn that I could apply to my training and my climbing for next time. Not only about the holds and which sequence to work out, but also about which part was challenging for me, what was going on in my mind and in my body while going through these.

So get out there and try again! Don’t think in terms of accomplishments because there are only two possible answers to this : succeeding or failing, and that is not helpful. Instead see what you can learn about yourself, about your abilities, how can you use those holds to your advantage, and finally, what the possibilities are. Remember that there are always possibilities and opportunities waiting for you and that there is only failing if you let your Ego compare yourself to others. Trust in your abilities and believe in yourself, because no one else can do this for you.

Allowing Ourselves to Love Again

I very much enjoy this quote by Marianne Williamson: “To the extent that we abandon love, to that extent we will feel it has abandoned us”. When we close our doors to love, that we choose to no longer trust in what Life has to offer, we feel stuck and often overwhelmed by loneliness and sadness. Everywhere we look, others seem to be happy, in love and smiling. And so, we resent…

We resent the past relationships that seems to have brought us only pain. We decide that love is not for us and that we don’t need it anymore. That we will never allow ourselves to be hurt again. So we put up a giant wall between us and them. We choose not to love. Then, as every day life becomes bland, the food tasteless, we believe that it is us who do not belong, us who are broken. We feel abandoned.

By choosing to reject love, you are only hurting yourself. You are cultivating fears that are preventing you to move forward. You feel stuck because you are holding yourself back. By hating others, you are carrying this burden around like a ball and chain. In fact, while you may firmly believe that you are pushing them out of your life, in reality you are holding on to their memory.

Only by allowing yourself to accept that you still love them, will you be able to release them from your thoughts. It may sound strange, but by holding a grudge against someone for something they did at some point in the past, you are only hindering yourself. You are not protecting yourself. You are bringing the past into your life. Or as Marianne writes it, “by bringing the past into the present, we create a future just like the past”. So LET GO…

Trust Life and Love again.

Don’t try to look for signs and explanations in all things, just let them be as they are and instead allow yourself to feel. Trust yourself, have confidence that you are an amazing person and that you know all this because of all the people who have accompanied you on your journey. Remember that your “Teachers” include those who you seem to dislike and ironically, who are most likely the ones you learned the most from.

“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here. […] to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of Life” ~ MW. I wholeheartedly wish that you will find it in yourself to love again. It can and it will happen to you. It is in your hands. Om Shanti.

Teachings about Love

Whether we are in a relationship or not, we go to great extent to feel loved and appreciated. Women in particular, tend to be insecure and feel threatened by other women and even by themselves. I do not pretend to speak for all, and obviously not for men, but genders and specific situations put aside, I believe that everyone wants to love and to feel loved.

In her book A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson says that “Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here“. She adds that “To the extent that we abandon love, to that extent we will feel it has abandoned us“. Jealousy towards others, the fear of not being enough or of making mistakes, and the obsession of proving that we are worthy, destroys relationships. In fact, one can become so overwhelmed by these thought patterns and fears, that everyday reality becomes distorted and perception of what is real, veiled.

In the Wisdom of Yoga, Stephen Cope quotes his own yoga teacher who once told him “What you practice gets stronger“. Although quite simple and probably something you have also heard or been told before, it is such a strong statement. Think about it. The more you are jealous, the stronger this feeling of jealousy will become thus making you weary of every other woman approaching your boyfriend or husband. The more you are afraid of being abandoned and judged, the stronger you will hold on and the more constant this mental chatter of feeling judged will dominate your thoughts. You will feel stuck, stressed, constantly challenged. Then, needing to impress, to prove that you are the one, you will impose yourself, forcing your love onto others like a telemarketer calling your home trying to sell you something! Is this attractive to you?!

Now, some of you may think that there is a good reason for this behavior, that your personal experience has thought you to be careful, suspicious of men and non-trusting of other women. Then I will revert back to what Marianne Williamson writes: “By bringing the past into the present, we create a future just like the past“. Is this what you want? To constantly re-live these feelings and these events over and over? You are not only responsible for your actions, but most importantly, for your thoughts. Although television exists, I’ve heard of no other mind-controlling device!

I know that it can be a constant struggle and that it is not easy said, easy done. But remember, “What you practice gets stronger“. So choose to love, learn to trust, become aware of your perceptions and thoughts. Most importantly, become detached from the outcome. Do not do and say things to have someone love you more. Do and say what you mean, how you feel. It is the only way. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Don’t you think he or she will eventually find out who you really are? And if it were you, wouldn’t you like to know?!

I hope these thoughts will help us all lead happier relationships and become more confident in our lives. Although I have focused this post on love and relationships, these concepts can as easily be applied to friendship and work environments. I wish you all much perseverance in your personal healing journey. Namaste.

Embracing change

Many of us have been told: “you’ve changed a lot” or “you’re not the same person anymore”. Whether said with good intentions or not, the fact is, change is constantly happening around us and within us. To paraphrase Daviji, you are not the same person that you were when you woke up this morning, and by the time you finish reading this article, you will not be the same person that you are now.

On a physical and molecular level, our bodies are in a constant state of change and adaptation. New blood cells are generated, old tissues are being shed, we’ve taken one more breath and heard another sound. On psychological and neurological level, our brain is continuously making new neural connections, registering new information, while we continue to learn and seek to understand.

So why are people so afraid of change? You don’t believe me?! Think about those who have pointed out how much you have changed; why do you think that they are telling you this? You are disrupting their way of being, their status quo. Your relationship with them will never be the same. This change will affect them too. But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it simply is. As my teacher once said: “you will never experience this moment this same way ever again” ~ Guy Tardif.

Some people hold on to “the way things were” for far too long, expecting things and people to remain the same. Some people may even feel threatened or blame others for the change they are noticing in you. The reality is that they no longer feel important to you. When a person defines himself or herself externally, meaning in relation to others, they become a victim feeling as though they owed or that you have betrayed them…

Then, sometimes, you will find people who will support you through this change. Some may even push you outside of your comfort zone and, although you may not like this very much at first, these are the situations that, should you choose to let them, will change you for ever. And once you will accept to look within you and to face these fears, these past events and people who are preventing you to grow, always bringing you back to face the same situation, only then will you recognize and understand how much they have helped you.

And so, to those who accuse you of having changed, answer them: “yes, I have, and it feels really good”. And to those who have been supporting and encouraging this change within me, I am forever grateful for your presence in my life and I love you muchly. Om Shanti.

Pure Potentiality

Being all that you can be. Living your life to its fullest without fears – sounds a bit like an extreme sport doesn’t it?!

What do you love doing? and what are good at? Forget what your parents, your teachers, and even your friends think, what is it you like? Believing in yourself, when others do not, can be one of life’s most empowering tool. Don’t let your dreams be dreams, as Jack Johnson sings.

Aspiring to certain things in life can be a great way to motivate yourself in getting there, as long as you remain aware of reality. Grasping on to a world that does not exist, and may never exist, can bring much unnecessary pain in your life.

Some say nothing comes easy.

Although I tend to agree with this statement, I also think that we have to trust that life will unfold as it is meant to. You will get to where you need to be as long as you are ready to accept that the destination, and the path alike, may change, for the future doesn’t yet exist! Remaining truthful to yourself, embracing who you really are, will lead you to where you have to go. Don’t give up, this is your life…

So how can we start to become more aware of our true potential, our pure potentiality? Among other things, Deepak Chopra suggests silent meditation twice daily, taking time each day to commune with nature, by witnessing the intelligence of every living thing. But I think that the main element that can help us most, is non-judgement. And so, as you go about your daily life, become a witness to your actions, to your thoughts. Do not judge or compare yourself to others, as each person follows a different path.

The feeling of satisfaction that arises in the realization that all of these events, obstacles and challenges brought you exactly where you are now, can bring much peace to your life. You are here Now. This is where you should be, and it is ok. Embrace life for all it brings you, for you have never lived this moment ever before. You are great. You can do whatever you truly put your heart and mind at. Shanti.

“You complete me”

We all love hearing these words. They makes us feel alive and part of something. And when all else fails, we still have this to hold on to: we are important to someone else. But is it what this really means? Do we need to find that special someone to complete us? And if so, does this mean then that we are incomplete?

No.

The person you are is already complete. In fact, we have everything we need inside of us to be happy, but we also have lots of fears preventing us from digging too deep. We like our comfort. And so, as grey as some days may seem, those are necessary as they allow for reflection and growth. Give yourself a chance.

Those people we love get to see who we really are as if holders of an all-access pass. We trust and open ourselves to them. We discover ourselves with their help even when it sometimes means pain. We are afraid and want to avoid pain because we are thought that it is bad or wrong to feel this way. But if we truly open our hearts to those people, friends or lovers, they will only challenge us to become our true Self.

When we say “you complete me”, what we are in fact saying is: “thank you for helping me open my eyes to who I am. I love you even more.”

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