For this dharma talk, I would like to use a confession as the means by which to get to the heart of a deeper matter.
The confession: As a person, as an individual, I hold the belief that I am a socially awkward person. Because I believe that I am socially awkward, I have noticed that I tend to behave in very specific ways. These behaviors, and how I view them, in turn reinforce the belief that I am socially awkward, which in turn leads to even more behavior that supports the belief that I am socially awkward and on and on we go.
As I have been thinking about this, I’ve realized that we all do this to some extent or another. For some self-selected label isn’t socially awkward, but instead could be: too fat, too old, too young, too weak, too, poor, too rich, too stiff, too open, etc. For others the self-assigned labels could be: not thin enough, not strong enough, not pretty enough or talented enough.
Which ever label we apply to ourselves, that thought, that belief, shapes our behavior which reinforces the belief. Unfortunately, this belief – at its core – suggests that who we are is not good enough. That we are somehow too much or not enough and thus undeserving of unconditional love and acceptance simply for being alive.
The good news is that both our beliefs as well as our behaviors have the potential to change. All we need to do is shed light on the thoughts and behaviors that are no longer serving us and begin to challenge them instead of blindly accept them as being reflective of reality.
The question I have for you, the one I am working to answer for myself this week is: what unchallenged beliefs are you enabling to run amok on your life?
Perhaps you have thoughts around where you should be in your career, how you should be in relationship, or how you should feel in your body or your practice.
Wherever your unchallenged belief lives, can you begin by considering that many of the behaviors that you use as evidence to support the validity of that belief may be the result of that same unchecked belief?If you are able to see that as a possibility, can you begin to notice all the ways in which this belief might be holding you back from the very thing you think you want?
To help with this inquiry, I would like to offer two tools. The first is the hridaya mudra – which is a mudra that is intended to help disarm the heart from the wall of beliefs and ideas we’ve built around it and really get to the heart, the core, the essence of who we really are.
The second tool is a mantra based upon the loving kindness/metta meditation. (See the instructions below) As you repeat the mantra to yourself, do not worry if you experience any resistance. Just note the resistance, honor its presence, and continue with the mantra anyway.
Paraphrasing the words of American Buddhist Nun Pema Chodron and Jack Canfield, sometimes we find it hardest to be kind to ourselves. However, as Chodron explains, if we are unable to be fully present and compassionate with ourselves, with all of ourselves – our light as well as dark qualities, we are unable to truly be present and compassionate with others.
Hridaya Mudra Directions:
Curl your index finger into the base of the thumb. Draw the corresponding thumb cross to touch the middle and ring fingers. Let the backs of the palms rest on the tops of your thighs.
Loving Kindness/Metta Meditation Directions:
- May I be filled with loving kindness
- May I be healthy
- May I be happy
- May I be free
For more information on the loving kindness meditation, check out this article
by Jack Cornfield.