by Amanda Votto
Imagine going through life with blinders on. What are we blinded by? We’re blinded by our own our stories, projections, and limiting beliefs which color everything we see. Some lenses are rose-colored while others may be dark and ominous. No matter the color, we have the ability to wake up from our shaded lenses and see things clearly — exactly as they are and not as they were or may be or should be or will be.
When we go around living from only thought, we are not in the present moment. Thought is of course part of our present moment but it is only a part. There is so much more that encompasses being here in this moment. Sounds, sights, smells, physical sensations, and emotions are very much present if we choose to open our awareness to all that is here. However, the chatter of the mind is so powerful; it takes us everywhere except here unless we are aware.
Our mind can be an ally if we harness and train it to be. With mindfulness, we continually rein the crazy chatterbox of our minds back to the moment — often by bringing the attention to our breath over and over again. When we start doing this, we can see that oftentimes our thoughts aren’t even true. This is when it gets interesting. To be a warrior on a journey of personal growth, we must call on certain qualities that help free us from the mind’s lure. One key quality is curiosity. When we can look at our thoughts through the lens of curiosity, we are able to question them and detach just enough for space to be created, and then we have choice over the thoughts we want to keep and those we want to let go. We can also call on non-judgment to help break us from the tight grip some thoughts may have, especially when our thoughts evoke guilt or shame.
How powerful it is to witness our thoughts and actively choose which thoughts are aligned with our essence and which thoughts are holding us back and keeping us small. This is not just an inspiring concept. It is a possibility for every single one of us if we are committed to living with our eyes wide open.
When we begin to pay attention to the present moment, we will see that it is not always easy to be with what arises. This is not referring to what is happening on the outside. In fact, the external world is neutral but it is our internal world that is profoundly active. Our internal world colors our perception of the external world. When we have clarity on the inside, our outer world reflects this and we can see clearly — exactly as things are. We can begin to accept the moment as it is without wishing it to be any different. How do we do this? It takes intention, commitment, courage, and a fierce desire to evolve.
In order to do a deep cleaning on the inside, we need to see all the dirt. We need to become aware of everything that the holds us back. I can tell you from my personal experience, the only thing that holds us back are our beliefs. That’s it, nothing else. So if we can witness our thoughts, we can begin to examine our beliefs and slowly but surely start cleaning out the dirt.
Our thoughts stem from our belief systems which are largely conditioned by culture and the way we grew up (our early relationships are especially influential). We can bring light to our fears of not being good enough, unworthy, unsafe, or out of control, to mention a few. We can begin to witness these “lack-based” thoughts and actively choose the thoughts that are based in our “abundance.” We can tell which thoughts are aligned with our truth by the way our body feels and we can also experience how maligned our body feels with lack-based thoughts.
There are so many ways that our internal barriers present themselves — some more sneaky than others. Our only job is to build our awareness and create the space to uncover how we are blocking our true essence.
Fear is at the root of all of our inner blocks, and it takes many forms: perfectionism, anger, competition, laziness, resentment, blame, judgment, self-doubt, self-shaming, unhealthy boundaries, extreme empathy, narcissism, to name a few. All of these faces of fear were initially intended to protect us, but over time, they create barriers that sever us from our own truth. When we learn fear’s many guises and hold them with awareness and compassion, little by little, the walls that hold us back and keep us separate from our essence and from deep connection begin to break down.
Through practice — and by keeping our eyes wide open, we can dive deeply into our internal layers and unearth what no longer serves our essence, and in so doing, discover a growing sense of peace we've never known before.