Being bilingual has informed me in ways I’m still discovering.
Having a vast range of words to describe the color of the ocean, for example, has shaped the way I see the ocean, and life.
Ultimately, we are, each of us, an expression of what we think we are and what we are capable of in this world. The quality of our lives, which is shaped by the words we use and the thoughts we entertain, time and time again, do steer our course.
But, what happens when we question this? When we challenge even our own long-standing language and notions, when we, like Rilke invites us to practice “living in the questions.”
Learning a new language, albeit French, Mandarin, or love and appreciation, will change you through sheer expansion of awareness. To me, that is the most incredible and fun part of being a human being; that just by getting a little “software upgrade”, we are immediately improved.
Contrast is one of our greatest teachers, and yet, we often miss the point.
When we choose to criticize, judge, or demean that which we find stupid, ridiculous or intolerable, we are, essentially, locking ourselves into a painful dynamic; one of divisiveness and self-righteousness.
In my experience, no one has ever helped me or changed my mind by telling me (or shouting) their “thoughts”. Being locked into a rigid dichotomy that blocks the creative and joyful insights that are available to us all, is painful. However, it is a type of suffering that can be healed within each of us.
Through practicing presence, self-awareness, and discernment we can easily see that there’s not only an alternative to criticism, but a much better use of our God-given talents and energy.
Criticism stems from fear– fear of “what” is up to you…but it’s deeply rooted in separation and desperation. Anytime we feel that “fear” rise within us, it’s a knock on the door of our mind, and an invitation to either enter into battle, or to yield, and instead, practice the better.
The better what? The better way. The peaceful way. The sane way. The way that places YOU at the helm and realm of possibility and of leading by example.
You have a better idea? Don’t tell us. Show us. Forget about tearing down the other— that’s easy.
Criticism is unmanifested creativity. Go create the better.
In 2017, I took part in a beautiful experiment. The “365 Days Together” initiative by INSIGHT TIMER challenged our community to meditate every day. Given my schedule and commitments, I honestly wondered if I could even do it. I’m grateful that I tried.
How did I do? Well, while I did not meditate 365 consecutively, (my longest span was 332 days), I have, since the start of my time with this app, meditated for a total of 938 days, and sat for 995 sessions.
What I found through my practice is that even on the days I did not actually sit down and use the APP, I was moving through my day with a different awareness and energy. Essentially, my actual life became my spiritual practice that day.
While “sitting down to meditate” is critically important, what I’ve noticed is that my waking life; my thoughts and behaviors (e.g. the way I expend and conserve my energy and what I choose to create) have become their own meditation, too….which invariably makes me long for increased and deeper communion through my meditation practice.
There’s no question that meditation has transformed my life. In order to become a better mother, educator, coach, and writer, I had to become a better student. I had to be willing to begin again, and again, and again– to sit and practice radical presence, patience, and self-compassion. More importantly, I had to be willing to ask myself better questions. I had to be willing to miss the mark and to embrace these seeming “failings” as an inherent and essential part of my own journey and transformation.
This year, what are you willing to try for 365 days?