The Key to Self-Awareness is…
by P. Braithwaite
Ironically, I completely fudged my posting schedule and released today’s post yesterday. This mistake seems to fit with today’s topic…
Lately I’ve been over myself. I’ve been praying and meditating and forgiving and writing AND, although I do see a marked difference in my life, I still get kind of irritated when the same issues crop up over and over…
It didn’t hit me that this was problematic until I was talking to one of my friends about self-awareness. She mentioned that she was struggling with her meditation practice, her diet, and her own sense of discipline. The level or frustration in her voice was making me tense, and I blurted out, “you’re so self-aware, but you are too hard on yourself. Maybe you should work on cultivating compassion before trying to make big changes in your life.”
And there it was: my own big statement smacking me in the face; Beckoning me to take my own advice…
“without compassion,” I added, “self-awareness is abuse…”
Can we truly be self-aware without compassion? Without the ability to be gentle with ourselves, to love and massage our sore spots — self-awareness (knowing oneself) is nothing more than another way to stunt and sabotage our growth. Our strict “commitment” to self-awareness unwittingly pushes us into a police state where we are criticizing our behavior and berating ourselves for missing some imaginary spiritual mark.
We might know ourselves, but what good does it do us if we hate/berate the person we know? That intense/aggressive energy radiates outward, and before we know it, we’re no longer living from our center. We’re going thru the motions — eating the veggies and reading the books –but we’re not connected to Source.
Compassionate self-awareness leaves room for humanity. It gives us space to falter, to fail, and to eventually grow. Often, on the spiritual journey, folks fall into the trap of perfection, but the goal of self-awarness, as I see it, is to embrace our humanity — to get down in the mud and find beauty in the dirt underneath our fingernails.
So today, as familiar anxieties crop up and procrastination rears its head, I am trying to understand that compassion is a key element of my spiritual journey. Much like I find ways to be firm but loving with my students, I must be firm yet loving with myself.
Everyday I become intuitively more aware that compassion, unconditional self-love, and lavish non-judgmental attention and are the only ways to enlightenment. Everything else — the meditation, the Ayurvedic diet, the yoga and reiki — are tools that can easily be misused to perpetuate basic unconsciousness if we don’t stay lovingly present to our humanity.
And even when we fall short, meditation teaches us that the power is in the moment of course-correction. The power isn’t really about staying on course, it’s about coming back to the breath, the source. It’s about returning to the energy of compassionate self love.
Hope you enjoy my extra post this week! How do you cultivate compassion for yourself? Share your secrets!