What if you could be the observer and the participant in your own life, at the same time? Great science starts with great observation. Observation happens in this moment, now, in the present. It is objective, not subjective. When we slip into subjectivity we are detached from our true selves and we are the servants of our small selves; let’s call it our ego.
I have observed with myself that once I detach from my core (my authentic self), which happens when I am not nurturing myself with my daily habits, the social environment suddenly starts to be a huge influencer on my wellbeing. Let’s call that the energy detractor.
It is so essential for us to be One with Life. As Eckhart Tolle says:
“Being one with life is being one with now. You then realize that you don’t live your life, but life lives you. Life is the dancer and you are the dance.”
We understand on a rational level that being in the now is the door to happiness. Being present is the best present we can give ourselves. And yet presence is the most difficult practice. It requires lots of discipline and a “scientific approach” – curiosity, the ability to observe and to notice without judgment (i.e. the subjective filtering of reality).
Self-observation is the ability to notice the subtle signals in your body and how your body reacts to the environment – and how your body interacts with the stimuli coming from what is outside of us (such as social factors). It is my observation that the social environment tends to impact us tremendously – both in positive and negative ways.
Let’s reflect on Tolle’s beautiful analogy: “Life is the dancer and you are the dance.” When we insist on being “the dancer”, we want to control life. Then we often step into our thinking patterns – habitual, unexciting, and limited by assumptions, certain beliefs, interpretations and fears. Now let’s assume that we are the “dance”. Then what happens is we flow and thrive, we are “One with Life”. We are liberated from “the control of the circumstances” because we are simply observing and capable of detaching from our thoughts, and of seeing how they just dance; we can then let them go. Our thoughts cannot affect the quality of our life. That dance can be harmonious and exciting, or the other way around.
Let us touch on the science a little and see what it can tell us. What determines our lives is not our genes. “Genes are simply molecular blueprints used in the construction of cells, tissues and organs. The environment serves as a ‘contractor’ who reads and engages those genetic blueprints and is ultimately responsible for the character of a cell’s life” (Bruce Lipton, Biology of Belief). The environment plays a crucial role in the quality of our lives. Our bodies are built of trillions of cells, and Lipton argues we can learn a lot from our “cell communities”. With our enormous complexity as human beings, how we process and interpret environmental stimuli (through filters operating in the subconscious mind) directly relates to how healthy we are. On the cellular level, “[the] membrane is the cell’s equivalent of a brain”. On a higher level, our mind is the “controller” of our lives. Lipton shows there to be an intimate link between the two when he writes that
“the job of the membrane in a single cell is to be aware of the environment and set in motion an appropriate response to that environment, in our bodies those functions have been taken over by a specialized group of cells we call the nervous system … Thoughts, the mind’s energy, directly influence how the physical brain controls the body’s physiology”.
To put it simply, the more aware we are of how environmental stimuli (especially from the social environment) affect us, the more we can build on this awareness and bring our subconscious habitual thought patterns into the day of light. Doing so can be a significant step towards improving the quality of our lives and can make us better able to experience a life of joy, happiness and harmony.
You might ask: so what?
Aware I can’t share all of the knowledge and experience I have acquired so far as a coach and in my life as a whole, I’d like to invite you to take a single, simple step. A PRACTICE which if embedded into your daily life could have a powerful impact. When you’re trapped under the heaviness of unhelpful thinking patterns, you can just BREATHE. There is now an abundance of scientific evidence on how mindful breathing improves our mental and physical health. It creates a space to break up the damaging thinking which affects the entire mind-body system.
Try this three-minute practice recommended by Prof. Mark Williams for just eight weeks and you will see how it impacts your life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOne1P0TKL8
Just by using mindful breathing you can start to move from autopilot to conscious choice, from analysing to sensing, from striving to accepting what is with gratitude, to start seeing your thoughts merely as mental events, not as solid and “true”. You can ground yourself in the here-and-now instead of travelling in mental time. And finally, make a choice to nourish yourself instead of staying “engaged” in a disengaged manner in energy depleting activities like draining relationships and uninspiring experiences.
Stay wholeheartedly committed to what is meaningful and truly matters to you, to what brings light and excitement into your life, to what makes you feel connected with yourself and life. Be One with Life.