Our self imposed limits

ElderlyA beautiful, powerful reminder by Susan Sontag:

A lot of our ideas about what we can do at different ages and what age means are so arbitrary — as arbitrary as sexual stereotypes. I think that the young-old polarization and the male-female polarization are perhaps the two leading stereotypes that imprison people. The values associated with youth and with masculinity are considered to be the human norms, and anything else is taken to be at least less worthwhile or inferior. Old people have a terrific sense of inferiority. They’re embarrassed to be old. What you can do when you’re young and what you can do when you’re old is as arbitrary and without much basis as what you can do if you’re a woman or what you can do if you’re a man.


Fear and Intuition: Are you aware of the difference? (am I for that matter?)

Fear and Intuition 

I have been really working at (struggling with ), like many people I work with, of trying to discern between the two voices in my head that at first talk in very similar manners.  The voices are fear and the “not do it” instinct.

When I first get a twinge of one of the two of them (or at times both of them at once), they are remarkably similar.  And this of course can lead me to a paralysis, being uncomfortable, stressed and unsure of how to move forward.

Fear speaks to me in a very convincing way.  It is a salesman.  A slippery one.  It panders to my sense of practicalness.  It doesn’t want to rock the boat even if every other voice knows the boat is sinking.  I feel it in my body in unpleasant sensations and my mind becomes very unsettled despite however I try to rationalize a decision.  It feels off.

However, just underneath the loud ruckus of fear, there is often a quieter voice that is my own intuition.  That voice that tells me to risk, to try and to rock the boat.  It is also that voice that sometimes does agree with fear’s point of view; not because it is afraid, but rather it knows that it is something that I truly don’t want.  But no matter how hard the decision is when I act from a place of intuition, a place of listening, it feels correct.  Not always easy, but correct.  It is lighter and in line with the essence of my being and beliefs.

Leaning to listen to the right voice

The trick is to learn to quiet down fear and dive past surface reactions and into listening to your own intuition.  To make choices that represent your hopes and not your fears.

I recently attended a talk by Will Kabat-Zinn at the Ashtanga Yoga Berkeley studio in Berkeley where he summed this exact point up very nicely.  He said, “The more you sit in silence, the more you get to know yourself and the chatter in your head.  It is when you can just be with fear but not listen to it that your voice of intuition, your gut, is capable of coming through much clearer.  It is like tuning a radio.  The closer you get to your desired station, there is less static and a much better transmission.

When you act from your intuition, a place of listening, you can almost feel each decision that you make in terms of putting you in balance with what you want or knocking you off kilter.  It is like a jolt and physical movement.  Onemakes you feel connected to that inner middle line. The other takes you away”

He went on to say ” Don’t get me wrong, acting in accordance with ones intuition does not mean it will always feel good.  It won’t.  It will often feel like shit.  However, feeling like shit by acting from a place of honesty is much different that feeling like shit by acting from a place of fear.  It is just cleaner”

Do you truly listen?

That intention of moving past fear and listening to your true voice should be the goal of whatever endeavour you pursue.  In my case, it is the ashtanga and meditation practice that I keep.  But you have to ask yourself “Am I creating space in my life that actively silences fear and lets me move into a place of true listening?”

If so, define what those activities are.  If you can’t, then you might be tricking yourself into thinking you are just listening to yourself but it is really just the craftiness of fear that lead you to believe that you moved on.  You haven’t but rather now just mask your decisions of being practical or not what you truly want, yet in reality, you haven’t given that intuition a chance.  You never truly listened.

Find your tool to listen because the idea of chasing the truth and being present is pretty much all we have.