New Year Recollection

When it comes to the start of a new year, people tend to focus on new goals for the upcoming year. They’ll decide to start exercising more, quit smoking, spend less money to get out of debt… The list goes on. What people tend not to do is appreciate what they’ve accomplished through the previous year. While it is good to plan for the future, one should not forget about their accomplishments of the past. For the start of a new year, I prefer the method of embracing past accomplishments while planning for a productive future. Reflecting back on the previous year, one may often times see that they’ve accomplished much, even if at a quick glance they feel they haven’t.

For those suffering from a mental illness of some sort, this may be a daunting task, but I have found that it may ease suffering from looking back and reflecting. When I was at my worst, I would remember perceived past failures and dwell upon them, looking only at the negative parts of what happened. Being an anxious person, when I was in this particular state, I felt that what I was dwelling upon would directly impact my future. I felt that experiences and relationships that had failed were a waste of time and that they would continue to be a waste of time. This lead me to believe that future experiences or relationships would be a fruitless endeavor. What I didn’t focus on however was how much I enjoyed the time in each of those experiences and relationships, even though they have since passed.

We tend to focus largely on the negative aspects of experiences while glancing at the positives without fully appreciating what they’ve done for us as individuals – specifically how they made us feel and how they encouraged personal growth. These experiences and relationships, whether they’ve ended in a positive or negative manner, shape who we are as individuals. I feel that reflection upon these allow us to better ourselves as individuals. I encourage everyone to reflect upon their past accomplishments, past experiences, past relationships, whether they are negative or positive, and appreciate them for assisting you in becoming the individual you are today. Don’t focus upon being a “new” person this year – focus on building upon what you’ve accomplished.

In closing, I would like to share with you some advice I’d been given awhile back. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the source, but it went something like this: Forgive but remember the past, live and enjoy the present while planning for a fruitful future. This advice has helped me when I could only focus on the negative aspects of life. I hope it provides the same assistance to you all.

What is Ego Death?

While speaking with a friend earlier this week, we came upon a topic that I found very interesting – perhaps a topic that not many have heard before, called “ego death”. When ego death occurs, it is considered the loss of subjective ego, a person’s sense of self-esteem, self-importance and self-identity. In Psychology, ego death may be called a psychic death, a term coined by Carl Jung, the man behind Jungian psychology.

Ego death is often referred to as an enlightening, yet potentially terrifying experience which may be brought forward in many different ways. More often than not, it is considered a spiritual experience, one where you experience the cessation of sense and feeling of control living your life. The feeling of being in control is replaced by feelings of being helpless or powerless as you go about the motions of life, with a sense that the thoughts you’re experiencing are somehow being inserted into your mind. While it sounds like a terrifying experience, many individuals who experience it often regard it as a very humbling transition into the next stage of their life, allowing them to harmonize with things they were unable to harmonize with before.

In Jungian psychology, ego death is often referred to as the death of consciousness, which may be accompanied by panic. Jungian psychology refers to ego death as psychic death, and goes on to explain it as a “shift back to the existential position of the natural self”. It is thought that after one experiences the death of consciousness, the consciousness is then resurrected. Carl Jung called this process the “the transcendent function”, which he believed led to a more “inclusive and synthetic consciousness”. It is believed that this process is a fundamental transformation of the psyche as it allows individuals to develop further understanding and peace of mind with the world and its inhabitants.

While ego death may be experienced through spirituality or rigorous introspection, it may also be experienced through the use of psychedelic drugs, such as LSD. Individuals who experience ego death through this method often are looking to experience what lies in the recesses of the human mind or to experience spiritual liberation. The early stages of ego death induced by a psychedelic may be terrifying, but those who experience it say that it is a liberating feeling, one that gives them a feeling of unity with other individuals, nature, the universe and God.

While the experience itself seems quite foreign and terrifying, it is something that I, coming from a mindful perspective, whole-heartedly believe is beneficial for personal development. Putting aside one’s subjective views is an important skill – one that allows individuals to view the themselves and the world around them objectively. We are all characters in this world we inhabit, and as such, we should try and make the world and our characters better each and every day.

If you would like to read more about ego death, I suggest checking out this page for more information.

 

 

What Makes Me, Me?

This week on Exploring Mindfulness, we are privileged to share this guest post titled ” What Makes Me, Me?” by Max.

Max is a consultant for Point Above, a mindfulness and leadership consultant agency that aims at helping people and businesses with development into a more focused and productive entity. Through various courses and seminars, any person or company can be a more mindful leader. For more information, please check out www.pointabove.com!


 

What Makes Me, Me?

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become.” – Dr. Seuss

Is it my nature, or is it my nurture?

Is it when I am the happiest, or is it when I am most sad? When and where does true learning take place? What makes me, me?

From my experience, being in close relationships with different people helps teach you about yourself. Spending a lot of time with someone can help you figure out for yourself what you are alright, great, and amazing at. They may even flat out tell you how and what they accept of you. I am talking about both sexual and platonic relationships. Friends, families, lovers, all of them can help you on your quest to be the best you.

Before I get into the meat of what makes you you, I must say this. I have no answers.

There is no quick fix to figuring out who you are. It is a lifelong journey; just try not to judge yourself along the way, because if you want, you can grow.

Who you are, is how you change, and more importantly, why you change. If you want to change for someone else, or to please other people, your “why” is not aligned properly with what you actually want in the end. You must want to change, for the sake of growing more knowledgeable about yourself. As Dr. Seuss said, it is not about what it is, it is about what it can become. What it can become is the part I am expanding on.

So how do we know what we can become?

Through knowing our strengths? Our weaknesses? Our fears? It is all of these, but the one that stands out most in my eyes is our vulnerabilities. How we change, is opening up our vulnerabilities to people, and hopefully, if they accept them, growing with them.

What makes you, you, is not only your vulnerabilities, but how you communicate them. Being open enough to say, “I am scared,” “I need help with something,” or even saying, “I’m sorry” is a way of saying that you have vulnerabilities and that you are open to share and change. This also means that you have trust in that person. How you deal with those vulnerabilities when they involve interacting with other people involves a lot of trust.

One’s level of vulnerability and transparency are key elements in who a person is.

If you are truthful with yourself about your vulnerabilities, and transparent to other people about them, people will find trust in you. This trust, will allow them to open up their vulnerabilities to you. When someone opens up their vulnerabilities to you, they are asking for help in return. Help to overcome what is holding them back from being fully open with themselves and with others.

My vulnerability, or at least my willingness to open up my vulnerability to people can backfire. Sometimes, I open it up to people who are actually unable to help me grow, unappreciative of the situation, or unreciprocated in being open. These times can be hurtful; for we lose trust in people we once thought were there for us. At the same time, it proves who is actually there for us, the ones that care and are willing to spend time helping you understand yourself more.

One cannot be too phased by rejection of acceptance. You must accept this and move forward with life. Although these are methods of dealing with others who don’t accept, there are no answers here that can be applied universally. Figuring oneself out is a natural process of humanity.

We must learn from our fears and vulnerabilities, and allow other people in, for the sake of growing.


 

 

Just a quick update

Hello readers of Exploring Mindfulness. I would like to quickly update you all. Life has been fairly hectic for myself lately, so I’ve been unable to find the time to write a quality post. I imagine things will slow down within the upcoming weeks, so you can expect content to be posted on it’s regular schedule!

There will be a new post coming up next week from a guest poster! Check back in on Tuesday!

Following the Flow

Go with the flow – a phrase we hear often throughout life. More often than not we simply disregard the phrase, regarding it as some “hippie” type saying, but what does it actually mean? How does one “go with the flow?

As we know, in life we are constantly faced with different situations, facing different external stimuli that influence us in various ways. It’s hard to actually figure out what the best course of action is for every situation. If we don’t know what the outcome will be in a given situation, we may simply end up retracting and avoiding the situation. These are the types of situations which now remind me of the phrase “go with the flow”.

When I was younger, I would often become anxious at the thought of a situation with an unpredictable outcome – going to a party, hanging out with new people, going to a location that I hadn’t been before, pretty much anything. I tried to have a calculated decision for every possible situation. I was still figuring out who I was and what I stood for at this time, so I figured if I could predict the outcome of a situation, I would at least have some insight as to how various external stimuli would influence me. If I couldn’t predict an outcome however, I would retract and end up missing potentially exciting opportunities. I lived a lot of my younger life like that until I actually started analyzing and understanding myself.

The key for me came down to knowing what I want in life. I analyzed and analyzed until I found my answers, which were helping people and being happy. Everything started to fall in place after that. I feel as though I started to go with the flow. I suddenly didn’t retract to my usual recluse state. I knew what I wanted in life, all of those situations where I’d have to calculate the outcomes suddenly became a thing of the past. It didn’t matter what situation was thrown in front of me, so long as I knew what I wanted in life, I was able to go with the flow, as they say.

I’ve since taken this philosophy about “going with the flow” a step further, specifically after studying Daoism. I’ve started to adopt this analogy: Our lives are much like rivers, and we are traversing the waters. Our rivers may shoot off into other rivers, streams, etc., but given time, we will end up back into our own river, or, perhaps your river will eventually merge with another river. We don’t know what will happen in our lives and when we worry about the future, we lose the ability the live in the present. I encourage you all to understand yourself. Understand what you stand for, what you want in life, and go with the flow. Don’t sail upstream and make life more difficult than it has to be. Let the river’s flow take you to explore new and exciting opportunities.