Well, there you have it. Another tick in the passage of time; another day crossed off the calendar; another ring laid in my tree of life. Thirty-nine years come and gone. A lifetime and a snapshot rolled into one. I both loathe and love my birthday. While it’s a sinister reminder of not only getting older but also how much I haven’t accomplished yet, it also serves as the one day of the year where I gift myself with the guilt-free pleasure of doing absolutely nothing – the kind of day where pajama pants are perfectly acceptable daytime attire.
As I have done every year on my birthday, I made my annual pilgrimage to the nearest book store, free birthday Starbucks in hand, and spent a solid two hours browsing the shelves. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for my stack of literary finds to pile up behind the check-out counter; yet another reminder that I have a serious book purchasing/hoarding problem. But that’s an issue for another day. For whatever reason, this year’s haul triggered a personal epiphany. While sitting cross legged on the floor, mindlessly staring up at the vast self-help section (my go-to section for some reason), it dawned on me that I have been living a life of lies – I’ve become a victim of the dreaded “imposter syndrome”. For years I have preached a calm serenity; imploring others to adopt a life of oneness with the self – everything from daily yoga and meditation sessions to practicing the art of momentary mindfulness – all passages into the Zen lifestyle that I project to practice without fail. My hidden truth,however, lures quietly in the background — it’s all an act.
My barrier lies, I think, in not being emotionally congruent with myself. Instead I’ve chosen to live in a state of incongruence, fully able and willing to project the “everything’s fine” persona all the while knowing something is internally “off” deep within. Whenever I read self-help books, I begin to shut down both metaphorically and intellectually because I feel as if I’ve been on the same mental health carousel for years. “I know all this stuff”, my inner voice will utter as a default. Very few insights are new to me, yet I gravitate to such literature like a much needed drug. While I’ve studied it all before, I know it’s the practice of doing where I fail to make a connection between the words on the page and the deep recesses of my psyche. Something is off, but what?
Realizing that I have amassed quite the comprehensive collection of self-help books, many of which have only be the recipient of a quick cursory exam, the celebration of another passing birth year seems to prove the ideal time to expose my inner self to the various claims each book has to offer. It’s time to shed my hard outer shell of aspired intellect and delve deeper into my inner dialogue of emotions and feelings. What really makes me tick? Why do certain situations stir up so much visceral”stuff”? I know there’s a reason that I’m brought to tears every time I read a story of human/animal bonding – specifically when it takes place from a point of acceptance, kindness, and healing. I know I hold great dislike towards the technological world, yet I can’t seem to separate from it for more than a few hours. I know I feel stuck in a cycle of repetitive behaviours; each frustrating me and bringing me comfort at the same time. These are just some examples of long buried issues that I have refused to investigate further and deeper – whether it be out of fear or denial – or both. I guess now is as good a time as any.
For the summer of 2016, I am proposing my own “Enlightenment Challenge” – a summer of the self. I will select 10 books from my own personal book shelf, each chosen based on how I intuitively react to them. While my library is filled with reads from numerous teaching and psychological modalities, I have noticed a synchronicity to them, each connecting with another in a way that provides an almost seamless flow between different schools of thought. After completing each book, I will post my thoughts on my blog as well as provide honest insight into what each has caused me to explore further about myself. In addition to these 10 reads, I will also spend the summer months following these three strict daily guidelines. Come hell or high water, I WILL adhere to them:
- Practice yoga for a minimum of 30 minutes DAILY. (I’ll thank YouTube in advance for its help with this one.)
- Meditate for at least 10 minutes DAILY. (Deep breathing exercises being the added bonus.)
- Limit personal techno time to ONCE per day. (I think I’ll need Easter Bunny-like hiding skills to get through this one.)
While it doesn’t seem so difficult on paper, as with any change of routine and/or behaviour, putting it into action is a whole other ballgame. Research says it takes 21 days to alter a behaviour – here’s hoping I manage my own incredible journey/breakthrough by Labour Day.