Last Monday we explored the metaphor of a lotus flower blossoming and the layers of an onion peeling away, in order to shed the superficial layers of self, revealing the deeper inner Self.
But, what does this really mean? What are the layers anyway? And what is the need to shed them at all?
Well, that’s really for life to show each individual --there is no formula or prescription for this process. There’s no need to even be spiritual, nor meditate, in order for it to occur naturally in your life.
Meditation (and any form of introspection) and quiet time (being in nature, journaling, free movement, etc.), can however be beneficial to bringing awareness to these things.
For example, I used to have a major sugar addiction which was learned from an early age. I have fond memories of going for a drive with my dad as a young girl and getting a scoop of Baskin Robbin's famous mint chocolate chip ice cream. And that was treat for me!
Not only did I get one on one quality time with my dad, but on top of it a sweet treat that changed my inner biology and got me hooked on that high of sugar, which was associated with this attention and love from my father. That’s a powerful hook for any child - sweets as a reward, associated with a warm loving memory with a caretaker.
Years later, as an adult, I realized the sugar addition was a superficial outer layer embedded in me during my childhood - not so healthy habit. And I decided, it was no longer serving me. I found myself craving and gorging on sweets daily.
When emotional lows hit, I would medicate with loads of cookies and chocolate anything in order to numb the pain or suffering I was going through at those times. The results were disastrous. After years of sugar binging, I noticed my body, brain and emotional well being were not in a good place each time I would eat too much sugar in one go.
I realized my addiction to sugar was just a learned habit. It was linked to two things I desired--rewards and comfort. Knowing this, inspired me to kick it.
It took years of battling the addiction. I even utilized the Lent period, for a few years, to fast from all forms of sugar. By allowing my physical body to detox from sugar, breaking the biological and emotional addiction, another layer was shed. And now from time to time I do have a sweet treat, but I no longer crave sugar like I used to. I no longer gorge on sugar when emotions or stress levels get high. Instead, I turn to healthier outlets and tools to deal with the challenges of life.
This is only one example of a long, conscious and not even necessarily spiritual shedding of a layer. There are many other forms that this shedding process can take place.
In your own life, think of a time when you felt controlled by a negative habit or deep unhealthy craving that was almost compulsive. Maybe it was an eating or substance use issue, or an emotional or behavioral habit that was not so wise (like anger, jealousy, insecurity, fear or judgement). It could also be a way you saw yourself before and now that identification no longer feels so true.
How is it for you now? Has it mellowed out? Is it still full on ruling your life when you feel stressed or worn thin? Has a specific way of being or acting changed for you over the years?
Some of those habits and cravings may have naturally fallen away, in time, or with the awareness of your once negative habits and cravings not fully benefiting you. You may have had to do a ton of work on it. It could have been a spontaneous freedom from that bad habit or tendency.
Either way, there are countless layers that shed throughout our lives, in a myriad of ways that allow for us to simplify and get down to our core. Not all of them even have to be so called "bad" habits either.
And when these outer layers fall away we tend to feel lighter and more free. We can start to explore what is truly of value to us, because our energy is no longer caught up in the incessant chase for the next hit of whatever your pleasure is; or in holding up what we falsely believed to be our self.
This gives us the space to explore, discover and act on the deeper purpose and clear intention of our being, leading us to live a more happy and healthy life.
Think of it as if you’ve been carrying around a super heavy suitcase your whole damn life. It’s full of all these “layers” that you innocently adopted as yourself. And over time, your suitcase gets lighter and lighter. Imagine losing one item here, another there, until you chuck the whole suitcase or downsize altogether to a sweet little and light tote bag! The journey becomes much more pleasant with a lighter load.
It’s important to be kind to ourselves when we explore these so-called layers of self - in that they are not “bad” and we are not “wrong” for having them. Furthermore, it’s good to realize that it’s not really our fault - nor our parents or caretakers for that matter - it’s just the way it is.
By keeping kindness at the forefront, as we bring awareness to our many layers, as well as resisting the urge to fall into victim-hood due to our conditioning, we can keep ourselves open to a process in which the timeline is almost totally out of our control.
In any case, whether we are conscious or not of this shedding of layers, in my experience it happens regardless. And it’s a good thing! Because in that lightness of letting go of the layers or the weight in the suitcase of so-called-self, we truly can get down to the essence and purity of our true Self. We shine from that place, interacting with others from a genuine and deeper level of connection.
This week, when you take a moment to reflect:
- Quietly sit and be open to the feelings of freedom from the layers that have already peeled away in your past, whether through your ardent effort, or from a spontaneous letting go, and honor that.
- Take notice to what is coming up for you in your life, that you know is ready to be let go of, during the present moment (be it anger, impatience, judgements, low self esteem or some kind of unhealthy habit, or just ideas or self-identification that no longer serve you, etc.)
- Allow for the shedding and release process to unfold, fostering the letting go with a gentle kindness, like a mother towards a small child - you being the mother to your own self, as these outer layers fall away.
Om Shanti shanti shanti.
Peace, peace, peace.
May you be happy,
May you be at peace and
May you be healthy in body, mind and spirit.
Warm hugs from Ubud, Bali,
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