When we stop running from our darkness and honour both the shadow and light of self – we connect with true power.
For many, the beginning of a New Year is a time of regret, loneliness and conflict that is often fuelled by the stress and disappointment of unmet goals. The all too familiar ‘if only’ and ‘I should’ comparisons add to the weight of societal pressure about what success looks like and corrupt genuine attempts at self-improvement.
Whether you are well on the journey to achieving your greatest dreams and desires, or have absolutely no idea what you want or where to begin, without self-awareness and acceptance resolutions can morph into disempowering and elusive quests for perfection. What’s crucial is having an understanding that in all of your imperfection, complexity, and desire – you are enough.
This time last year I wrote about conscious transformation and identification of purpose, suggesting that in order to arrive at the central reality of self we must first ‘peel back the onion’ to remove the outer layers of misconception and ignorance. What I’m essentially referring to is our artificial construct; the external, self-protective identity we unconsciously create that enables us to live in a world of misconstrued feeling, function and emotion. The artificial construct might seem like a feat of human ingenuity, however it is a self-protective illusion; a ‘false self’ that robs us of vital connection, so that we are only ever a shadow of who we really are, or could become.
Elite athlete Ant Williams is one of the deepest freedivers in the world, descending to minus 100 metres on a single breath. I love freediving as a metaphor for embracing ones darkness and because of the extraordinary mental and physical stamina involved. From an external perspective we only see the grace-like state of the dive itself, yet unseen excruciating forces challenge the diver at every stage of the journey. The deeper the dive, the darker and literally more challenging it becomes, demanding absolute physical and mental resolution so as to overcome fear and the extreme external conditions. At a certain point nitrogen narcosis, otherwise known as ‘rapture of the deep’, replaces pain with a bliss-like serenity so that the ‘journey back’ to the surface becomes one of survival, demanding even greater mental and physical commitment.
When the walls of the heart, mind, and soul are laid bare – who are you?
Many people perceive growth as moving forwards, but I’ve learned that connecting with ‘true power’ is more about vulnerability and moving deeper into truth, removing the many and varied layers of our onion. Questions like ‘who am I’ and ‘what is my purpose’ often follow the onion peeling process. Importantly, we may not know everything about an onion all at once but discover little by little as each layer comes off.
As we pass from one year and into the next, to help with the process of reflection and resolution I’ve designed a simple diagnostic tool based upon the Buddhist ‘Wheel of Life’. It’s an onion of sorts, divided into four key realms or states – Lifestyle, Contribution, Relationships, and Wellbeing. The internal elements of the wheel form a holistic ‘snapshot’ symbolising growth on a scale of 1-10. 1 represents our ‘unconscious state’ and 10 is mastery. Complete your wheel by designating a value for each element, marking a dot to show where you’re at right now, then join-the-dots. A holistic ‘snapshot’ is revealed, enabling you to effectively prioritise energy, goals and growth.
This simple diagnostic can help to highlight areas in our lives that need to be developed or improved upon. I find that it’s a more considered approach to setting goals than individual New Year resolutions, which are often made in isolation from each other and therefore, not likely to ‘stick’ due to competing priorities.
Download a printable PDF version of the diagnostic, pour yourself a drink and get started 🙂 To share your snapshot on social media use hashtag #wheeloflife2016
Happy New Year!