How to be your authentic self!
What does it means to listen to your heart?
To begin, let me explain what I mean by listening to our heart. Clearly, I’m not talking about the physical heart. I’m talking metaphorically here. Listening to our heart means listening to our feelings, not what arises in our mind. We could also say the ‘Heart’ is our authentic-self. It is harmony.
Perhaps the most important question is why we can’t listen to our heart and be in touch with our authentic-self more often?
When we are in a state of inner peace, we automatically become closer to our authentic self. In that state we know what it is we really desire. Of course, one might ask, just how do we get to that state?
I would say this is achieved most directly by checking the feelings in our body. You might find you are resisting the experience of simply being there, being present. You may also notice inner conflict which means you are disconnected from your authentic self. It’s vital to end conflict with yourself before you can find authenticity, or inner peace.
As stated, conflict prevents us from being our authentic self. Some signs of inner conflict might include; fear, anxiety, stress, overwhelm, or depression. To get in touch with our authentic self we can integrate and reconcile the conflict within ourselves by allowing it to be there. This simply means to be present with the feeling. Another way to state this is that we bring ‘awareness’ to feelings in the body. The invitation is to do this, particularly when we don’t want to do it.
In order to feel safe, we often deny, suppress or repress the feelings in our body. It’s often an automatic Nervous System response. Our Nervous System creates a view of the world which serves to keep us safe and stable. Without it, we can’t really function well in the world. However, the feelings remain in our body. Our job is to become aware of them so they can then be released. There are many ways you can approach this. My favourite way is to do it in meditative stillness. It is very powerful and the key to ending the inner conflict.
My experience practicing
I want to share with you one of my own experiences. Recently, I decided to work on a project which was way out of my comfort zone. Initially I was very motivated and excited about it. But, soon after, I noticed that something wasn’t right. Self-doubt crept it. I didn’t believe in myself. I noticed an internal conflict: “I have all the resources, knowledge and motivation to start this project. So why don’t I believe it?”
To be clear, this belief (I don’t believe in myself) was created in my mind. The sensations and/or feelings related to that belief are something different. They require attention and focus to ‘feel into’.
I brought awareness to the feelings and sensations in my body. I allowed it to be there without any interpretation, judgment, or opinion. I realised these feelings (fear, lack of safety) were actually coming from a past memory.
Keep this in mind. In childhood, our reactions to the events or situations we face can create a powerful belief. This belief programmes us to react with that pattern in similar subsequent events or situations. After all, a belief is an assumption created to allow us to expect a certain outcome.
In childhood, every time I expressed my desire for achievement, I noticed a pattern of behaviour from others. My emotional reaction to that behavior created a belief about myself. In order to feel safe, I was conditioned to stay invisible and not talk about my achievement. The message from my Nervous System was that it is not safe to be visible or to be an achiever.
Sometimes, simply allowing the feeling and surrendering to it is enough to feel peace. But you may also notice that a part of you wants to keep you safe and another part wants you to follow your desire/heart. In that case, you reconcile with the feeling that it is not safe to follow your desire. In my example, I assured my Nervous System that I was grateful for it wanting to keep me safe. I assured it that I am safe and that as I move forward with my project I would return to its protection whenever needed. I knew I wanted to work on this project. I just had to feel safe first.
In this way you are reconciling with the feeling. If you ignore the fear, it becomes stronger. If you don’t pursue your desire, you will be conflicted.
How do I know that I integrated my fear of achievement? To be honest, I still had doubts.
One doubt came up in a conversation with my partner. He asked me where I saw myself (related to this project) in five years’ time? I couldn’t visualise it and this bothered me a little. I thought “Shouldn’t I be able to see this if I truly believe in myself?”
However, I didn’t analyse it intellectually. I simply closed my eyes and went within. What I realized was that the future success (of the project) didn’t matter to me. But I had no fear or lack of safety within me around this. At that moment I was in a state of peace. This was the sign for me to know I had listened to my heart and I was authentic about working on this project.
The point of this post is to emphasize the importance of listening to our feelings. I have been doing this practice for more than two years now. So, it has become easier for me to stay in touch with the feelings and sensations in my body.
For your practice, I suggest the simple exercise of ‘allowing’ as described in the video below.
There are many teachers and methods you can try. I simply choose a meditation from my own teacher, GP Walsh. He is a master of allowing and inner reconciliation.