After I got better, after having been ill for some years, I assumed that all I had to do was to get my life organized again and get rolling again. What I did not understand, until now, is that apart from the parts of my life that I was genuinely loving, I had no life to get back to. Almost everything I had built my life upon was in the process of undoing itself. My life was mostly built upon what I had been taught was good. Even in the years before I got sick, as I was rebuilding my life in a way I believed was my way, my thinking and feeling were still contaminated by my socialization. I had been conditioned so strongly that, on the intellectual and feeling level, I could not separate myself from it. So everything I did, even though at the time I firmly believed that I was making a conscious choice, was somehow influenced by what I was raised to believe and feel. Gaining consciousness is a process. It is how I became conscious. It probably is how the majority becomes conscious. I broke the bonds of my socialization by first becoming aware of the thoughts I had been programmed to think. Once I became mindful or the negative thoughts I was repeating day in day out, and decided to stop believing them, I became aware of the pain that is hidden behind those words, the emotions I had trained myself to feel and the ways in which I reacted in order not to feel the pain of rejection and neglect. Only after I let go of the pain that was inherent to my socialization, I could become conscious of the physical signals my body is sending me to inform me whether something is good for me or not.
Even though, I believe the process of becoming conscious follows the same stages for everyone. I do believe that all paths are different. We all have our own blind spots. I, for example, was taught to negate my own feelings, and my journey was somewhat complicated by the fact that my internal compass, that according to a lot of self-help book I had access to at all times, seemed to be missing. It now appears that it wasn’t missing, but that I did not have access to it either as it was buried beneath an incredible amount of debris. From where I am standing now, I believe that our bodies hold the key to our authentic selves. When we are exposed to a situation, person, object, question or statement, we have an instant preference. And even though we may not be conscious of that impulse, our bodies do reacts in that microsecond in which our original thought surfaces, right before it is overridden by conditioning and socialization. I am learning that this gut thinking is undiluted. Whereas we have been taught what to think and feel emotionally, our gut instinct is very pure.
At the moment, I am training myself to stop and feel what is going on in my body before I respond. I am learning to feel differences in muscle tension, energy and temperature. Heightened muscle tension, a drop in energy and temperature feel off. Relaxed muscles, a slight rise in body temperature and a rise in energy feel good. That is all the interpretation I allow myself to do. Does this feel good or not? When my body signals are uncomfortable, even if I can’t tell why, I will react neutrally or not. When my body feels good, I will say yes to it, even if it doesn’t make sense. Or at least that is my intention. In real life, I am at the stage where I am aware of what I can do differently, but forget most of the time. Usually it is only afterwards, that I realize that I did not include my body in the decision-making. And that’s okay. The trick to easy learning is to focus on the good. So instead of getting angry and frustrated at not getting it ‘right’, I am proud of myself that I noticed it afterward. And when I actually do register what is going on in my body before I make a choice, then I celebrate, then I give myself a very big pat on the shoulder. Usually, it’s the small things that are the most impactful, like five minutes ago, when my leg signaled it needed movement and I actually got up and did something that required walking, or this morning when I was routinely putting oatmeal in a bowl and felt a slight drop in energy, stopped, thought about what I wanted, thought of greek yoghurt and felt a rise in energy. It’s in those seemingly insignificant choices that I am retraining myself to listen to my body, really listen to my body. I have decided my big dreams will have to wait just a bit longer. Until making choices that feel good has become second nature. You could compare it to driving. Before I get into a Formula 1 car and start in the Monaco Grand Prix, I first want to be very, very, very, very good at steering a Formula 1 car, and not just any Formula 1 car, but the one I will be racing in.
picture by Laurens Schaap