For many years I lived outside of my body, denying that there was an inside. Staying busy every second with the inconsequential stuff one can come up with to keep the focus outside. I didn’t realize that my body was a multilayered canvas, as I stayed unconnected to my thoughts, instincts, and desires. Our body is the only vessel we have in this life that allows us to experience the physical world, while also housing the deep, internal place of the spiritual world: the soul. When we disconnect from our body, we are disconnected from our soul. It wasn’t until a diagnosis of cancer, and a subsequent commitment to yoga and meditation that I began a journey inward.
We often fit ourselves into assigned roles and separate body and soul. Through this separation, we hide our authentic self; not just from the world, but even from ourselves. We treat our bodies like guesthouses. We
contemplate visiting our guesthouse, but we are busy and time hurries by. Then one day we finally make it, and when we open the door, it is in terrible disrepair. Overwhelmed by what we see, too often we close the door and vow to look again when we have more time, more energy, or more hope. The internal cobwebs continue to grow as the repair work becomes more complicated.
We can deny the needs of our internal selves for only so long before we begin to experience the damage. The small child inside is always there waiting, and he or she won’t forever accept our avoidance and disconnection with our authentic self. Taking care of ourselves from the inside out allows a reconnection to the heart of the matter, to the authentic self. It is through the work of going inside and coming back out that we find ourselves. It is through that finding, that reconnection, that we can come full circle and remember our dreams, identify our passions, and our spiritual path as we begin to find activities that support our authenticity and our path.
So how can you begin the work of reconnecting with your authentic self? Here are some suggestions:
- Get in touch with your body and mind.
Yoga and meditation are great ways to begin to become present with your body. There is a yoga class for everyone. Try different classes and teachers until you find the right fit. There are many different meditation practices as well. Both yoga and meditation help to strengthen and tone the body and mind, while also bringing awareness to the holding patterns we have built up over a lifetime, and through that awareness, we can begin to let go into deeper spaces of knowing.
Listen to and feel the sensations in your body when you practice. What do you feel? Where does your mind go? What is the narrative that spins in your imagination? Pay attention, stay present to the moment, to what is occurring, even when it is uncomfortable and from there begin to unravel the ties that bind as begin to move closed to your authentic self.
- Take a walk down memory lane.
Look back at childhood pictures from as early as possible through your teenage years. Pay particular attention to how you appear in each photo and over time. Look at your face and expressions, your clothes, the way you hold your body, who you are with and what you are doing. Notice significant changes over time as your memory is prompted back in time. What do you see? Are you happy or sad? Are you performing for the camera or hiding? Do you look natural or posed? What did you love to do when you were a child? What dreams did you have? What experiences do you remember and how did they affect who you are? How did you change over time? When did you start to play the roles that were assigned to you by others instead of being who you truly are?
Make a list of the top 5 activities you loved to do or dreamed about doing as a child and that speak to your heart. Compare your list to your current life and work. How do the two compare? If the activities you have listed are not a part of your current life make a plan for how to include them in your life and begin to take the necessary steps toward achieving your goals.
- Take a solo journey in nature.
Nature has a way of softening our barriers and creating a space for reconnection. As you begin your journey be sure to give yourself enough time to experience a beginning, middle, and end. Plan a time when you can spend at least a few hours or even a day alone in nature. If possible go somewhere you have never been. Take water to stay hydrated and bring along a journal and a pen. Take a moment of silence at the beginning to set an intention then begin your journey entering into the unlimited space of nature.
Be open to signs and to metaphors presented to you along your path remembering that nature doesn’t speak directly. Bring back something that spoke to you. It could be a tree limb, rock, or something else that will remind you of your journey. Sit quietly at the end with your thoughts and experiences taking some time to journal about your experience before returning home.
- Attend a retreat designed to go inward.
A retreat gives you the opportunity for an extended time away from your everyday life and the roles that you play. It can be a day, a weekend or a week; take that time given to you to relax into the experience. Connect with other like-minded attendees benefiting from shared stories and an experienced facilitator as you move inward restoring and renewing your connection with your authentic self.
My hope for you is that you will make your way home to your guesthouse, and once there, decide to come in, stay for a while, and to get to know the true self. I hope that from this place that you connect with the ever present light inside, and to your gifts and talents that are unlocked in this sacred space, bringing them forth with joy, along with your authentic self, into a world so in need of truth, light, and authentic souls.