ON KNOWING YOURSELF

The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.
–  Carl Gustav Jung

Who are you?

I do not mean ramble on what is your personality like according to the Myers–Briggs type indicator, nor to prattle on the origins of your family name or your zodiac sign. These are details that, of course, do contribute to your identity. How attached to them are you? Doesn’t the importance you give to them hinder you from achieving potential change?

When undergoing a self-assessment of his personality, one tends to remember better the positive aspects. This makes sense as one shall generally choose to introduce himself to new encounters through a favorable light in order to make a good first impression, rather than denigrating his own self. As one thus keeps presenting himself according to the very same set of values, the negative parts are often left out of the equation, making a seemingly very little mark on his mind.

Isn’t it human, after all, to simply choose to focus on the good rather than the bad?

At times, concentrating on the favorable elements in our lives is indeed the only way to perceive the end of the tunnel. In some cases, it may even serve as a life-saving action. Yet, one ought not to forget that as human beings we are works in progress. Life means constant evolution, embracing changes, undertaking new experiences. This means learning to navigate through the ebbs and flows of life. In order to manage it, one has to accept that there is a balance in the way he is, but that shall not hinder him from modifying its weight. 

We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.
– May Sarton

oouui
BCN, May 2020, GC

Aren’t you willing to grow?

I recently fathomed out that the great and prime patience I, for so long, believed I had was not truly reflected in my actions. I can be quite impatient at times and with my stubbornness, it is often likely to lead me to waves of anger. It is never pleasant to realize that you possess such and such flaw, let alone acknowledging it to your peers. And yet, it is also the only way to work on it. It is always the first step to take in order to progress.

It seems needless to say that this is not an easy task, for it requires a constant self-evaluation. Moreover, it demands a certain kind of strength to accept ourselves in our most vulnerable state  – the most genuine and authentic. Many people, as frightened as they are to conquer their fears, are not willing to confront themselves. In the same way, they could be intimated to disclose their true self in front of their peers.

Indeed, it takes a lot of courage to be authentic but there is no other alternative to self-growth. Perfection is unattainable. One cannot forever hide beneath the covers of an illusory self, as they eventually fade. This does not mean proclaiming all of your defects from the rooftops, but simply not pretending to be someone you are not and thus not lying to yourself.

***

All in all, to fully know know oneself requires to, sometimes, shift the focus, see yourself through a different lens and be ready and willing to evolve.

Do not worry, the universe will test you and if you pay enough attention will always show you the way.

how well do you truly know yourself?

Le Canzoni. Jovanotti.

ON STILLNESS

“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat any time.”

Herman Hesse

Whether it is on a cold wintery day or during a heatwave, after wandering through some streets or inside a park, I delight in stopping and observing the world around me. Both children and dogs take part in merry amusements.  Buskers are seeking a new audience and some random benefactors. Photographers are out to catch a glimpse of today’s sky while I sit on bench. I put my book or my earphones back in my purse. I am just by myself. I am simply doing nothing. I am still. And I rejoice in it.

 

At times, I can deeply feel the stares on me. I do not bother focusing my attention on them in worry and disturbance. I let it go as I watch them withdrawing. I let it go as each and every passerby that walks by, as each thought that enters my mind and departs from it. Similarly to the introvert who in a group interaction may become dull, I step back from my own thoughts and remain still. 

Bristol, June 2019, GC

For many people, this idea of doing nothing is considered meaningless. To partake in such an activity appears to be a synonym for idleness in our western culture and for the aspiring over-achiever whose time seems to be limited. In fact, in our world in constant motion, one is discouraged from having the luxury of time-wasting.  

And yet, remaining in stillness for a few instants embodies the whole idea of time control. Furthermore, it represents utter freedom. As I lean on the bench, I am free. Free from the judgmental looks I sometimes receive. Free from movement. Free from society. I am free and I can feel in my every thought and through each cell of my body.  I am free from the responsibility that was somehow, anyhow, given to me by societal standards to achieve something — anything, from the meaningful to the most trivial — at every breath I take. 

“When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.”

Eckart Tolle

Truthfully, one is not able to reach this state time and again overnight. It takes patience and practice and may need to come out of another experience. To me, this state of stillness had much to do with the experience of contemplative or meditative walking that I have undergone for years now. 

Stillness is refreshing, it is discerning life unfolding before your very eyes from a new perspective. It is taking the time to step back from a never-ending flow of movement. It is pausing to reflect upon the things we are most accustomed to. It is questioning ourselves and our frame of mind. Stillness means letting go in its purest form. It signifies breaking the pattern in order to expand ourselves. In stillness, we find again and anew our authenticity. 

Cease everything. Take a deep breath in and out. Watch the world around you and see yourself again. Your soul is still. You are born again. Anew. As pure as ever. Authentic living.

Illusion. Ben Mazué.

do you ever practice stillness?