By Brandon Nappi
Weekend Wisdom is a weekly sharing from Copper Beech Institute’s founder, Dr. Brandon Nappi. The following are Brandon’s recent reflections, originally posted on social media each Sunday. We hope these simply lessons inspire, rejuvenate, and support you on your inward and outward journey.
All fears can be distilled
to one single fear:
the fear of not being enough
For most people, the marching band of “never enough” will parade its way down the main street of your headspace several times a day without your permission. The playlist of this raucous and persistent band includes the following thoughts played in a torturous monotony: I am not smart enough, funny enough, good enough, loveable enough, forgiving enough, attractive enough, thin enough, popular enough, strong enough... The repetitive stream of “never enough” appears to be a thoroughly convincing and completely accurate summation of our innermost value.
This fear of “never enough” has something important to teach us. Watch it with your mind’s eye. Carefully notice each thought. Lean in to look carefully at the very thought that seems to want to crush you. Thoughts are only thoughts. They only have the power we give them. Even more, remember that you are not your thoughts. The very act of observing your thoughts of “never enough” itself is healing, because this observation reminds you that who you are is vastly larger than any thought form.
When you can feel
any and every feeling,
then you are free.
We suffer to the degree that we resist whatever sensations or feelings that are emerging. There are no difficult situations or difficult people; there are only emotions that we resist. We spend precious life energy trying to control life and others so we might avoid certain emotional states. All control is based on fear. We try to control things because we are fearful of what we might feel if things don't go according to plan. We fear because we want some things and because we don't want other things. Mindfulness meets us precisely in this human condition--within the frustrating cycle of having what we don't want or wanting what we don't have.
Welcoming everything doesn't mean accepting injustice or violence. It's not a convenient excuse to remain passive or to be silent amid all that threatens human flourishing. Rather, this kind of stability and freedom to 'be with' the full range of human experience allows us to be grounded and radiantly compassionate as ignorance, hatred and division rage in our world and at our dinner tables. Mindfulness is a practice of intimacy with your direct experience and with life itself. There is no need to run away. There is no need to avoid or to cling. Mindfulness is the most ordinary thing there is--it's hanging out with life the way it is.
Find beauty everywhere
even in the things you’ve outgrown.
There is a temptation to distance ourselves from things in life that are no longer a fit. Friendships, beliefs, practices, preferences, and roles can change over time as we grow and evolve. What we needed at one point in life, may no longer be what we need now. A friendship or job that filled us with energy earlier in life, no longer feels like a fit. Give yourself permission to grow without the need to judge what came before. Sometimes, we can be seduced by demonizing the things and people that no longer resonate with us. It’s tempting to make enemies out of old relationships, old jobs, or old beliefs. This is unnecessary and can be a trap as the ego tries to convince itself of its superiority. We can evolve to a new place without judging the previous place. There was beauty in what came before even if it no longer serves.
Spiritual growth is not linear.
Be gentle with yourself as you learn
the same lesson over and over
We sometimes assume that the spiritual life is marked by consistent growth. The reality is that spiritual practice is often one step forward and two steps back. This is not a problem, because growth is not a race. We have a lifetime to fully become ourselves. Pulling at the grass doesn’t make it grow any faster. Grasping at growth doesn’t accelerate our wisdom. Be gentle with yourself if you repeat the same mistakes over and over. You will do so until you have learned to embody the wisdom you seek. There is no rush. There is enough time for everything.
The imposter syndrome
is a natural step
in following your true calling.
Don’t be surprised when the impostor syndrome arises. Expect it. Take a breath. Step forward in courage. When you boldly follow the path of authenticity, your inner critic will often tell you that you are an impostor--that you don’t belong, that you are not enough, that you shouldn’t be doing what you are doing. “This task is for someone else with more authority, more education, more experience, and more wisdom.” The impostor syndrome is one common manifestation of shame for those who are following their true calling. You begin to wonder, “Who am I—to teach, to lead, to apply for this job, to set this goal, or to try something new?” Ask yourself instead, “Who am I NOT TO?” More than ever, we need people to listen to the inner voice daring them to boldly follow their calling. We need YOU to find your courageous voice of compassion and conviction and speak to the pressing challenges of our world.