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Has it ever occurred to you? You hear something over and over, a message repeatedly coming to you from different sources, a lesson that needs to be learned and lived. You think you know it but it doesn't really seem to settle in or influence the choices you make. And suddenly one day, totally unexpected and out of context you hear it from someone, in an irrelevant situation and it just HITS THE SPOT!
When I heard this question by Adyashanti a while back, I had to think about_ reflect on_chew over_ soak in_drown into_I had to LIVE it. And as simple as it may seem it revealed worlds to me.
“ What is it that you know, that you really really don’t want to know?”
Either out of curiosity and simply looking for trouble, or maybe just because the question hit the spot for me, I started making “ Presence Pauses”* and writing answers to this question several times a day as a self observation. At this moment, what is it that I know that I really really don’t want to know? In any particular relationship, in my way of being and relating,in my habits, attractions and aversion, in my history and my future ambitions, in my smiles and my handshakes, in my agreements and invitations_ what is it that I pretend I don't know? How am I growing against my grain? How am I punching holes in the flag of my authentic being? In what ways am I denying my soul?
Does it sound familiar? confusing? nonsense? Let’s try a few examples.
that ice cream after dinner despite high blood sugar
that morning spent in front of the computer instead of connecting to ones teenager,
that innocent-looking text message that stirred a lot of old memories,
that painful wound from a loss still being carried into every relationship,
that yet another expensive toy purchased on the credit card,
that criticism and spell of anger thrown at another masterpiece, another human being,
The list can go on and on! What is it in every one of these circumstances and many more that we know, and pretend not to know! What is it that we are more comfortable denying?
As my stream of consciousness responses abused the most loved reproduction of nature,my innocent notebook got more and more filled with tales of denial about life, depending on the context presented and the experience of the moment. To my own amazement, it seemed that quite expertly and irreproachably, I deceive myself into actions and decisions, simply by denying the truths that could empower my decisions and instead stay in the safe zone of the thick bridle that the wired neurons tether me with. Keep calm and deny everything!
With denial comes familiarity.
With denial comes a false sense of permanence.
With denial comes compromise.
With denial comes inauthenticity.
With denial comes avoidance.
With denial comes miscommunication.
With denial comes lack of boundaries.
What makes it very difficult to be aware of this phenomena is probably the fact that living in denial takes root very early in life. In the name of manners, etiquette, right, and wrong we raise our children getting used to swimming up-river and soon in life this“ up-river” becomes such a natural state that they lose even the curiosity towards other ways of being. Just as we were raised to do so. How about making one tiny step for change?
Coming back to mindfulness. Living mindfully in the moment, being aware of the present experience with acceptance, opens the door for not losing oneself in denial and going down the spiral of no return. Let’s try a very simple example: If I am present at this moment, I would not deny the fact that I am overloaded with work and I would comfortably say“ No” without judging myself or feeling frustrated. I have established boundaries and authenticity, an acceptance about my limits and capabilities. I have let go of unrealistic expectations. I have communicated truthfully. I have not compromised my health or my priorities. How difficult can it be?! Very difficult for most of us. The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. Just one tiny step, one tiny subject, one tiny reflection notebook, and one tiny moment of self observation may be the answer to:
Who would I be today without denial?
*Presence Pause is a term used by Doug Silsbee in his wonderful book" Presence Based Coaching"