There was a time in my life when things were just so bad! In my mind I felt hopeless. I could not see a way out. I was stuck. I had been taught all my life, however, that we are special and that we humans are meant to overcome our difficulties in life; to learn and grow from them even. In those dark moments I thought to myself, “If I could just know who I am, I could overcome my problems!” My question was, how could I know myself?
Like many of us, if not all, we have been taught how to behave since childhood. Stuffing our emotions is often part of that learning. As we grow we become more and more disconnected from ourselves, disconnected from who we really are. Instead we play a role set out for us by society and our families. This is normal for a society, but in my opinion, when the disconnect is strong, broken people are the result.
“Know thyself!” is an admonition given to us students by our teacher Tom Brown Jr. in Scout Class at Tracker School. “Know thine enemy!” is the second. “Sometimes thine enemy is thyself!” he states, almost an after thought, but likely is key to the awareness of self. These are sayings handed down by the Apache Scouts, Tom says. “Know thyself, and Know thine enemy,” seems to be a common theme in warfare. Self awareness can help us learn if we are thwarting our own progress, if we are the enemy we face.
The Sacred Questions are the key to knowing ourselves. “How am I feeling? How can I heal it? What more can I learn from this?” and many other questions that can spin off them take us on a journey of self discovery. As we move through the layers of emotions and feelings, learning what we feel, why we feel this way, and what we can do about it, we move closer to who we really are. Meaning, the emotions are not us but are reactions to things in our lives based on our experiences and the people around us. The problem is the reactions are based on limited perspectives; what we can see and understand from our limited viewpoints. Our perspectives are so limited we can in no way understand everything around us and therefore our feelings and reactions are skewed by our limited perspective. In stronger terms, our perspectives and reactions are wrong simply because they are based on limited understanding.
What I am proposing is to get past the emotions and reactions which are the byproducts of our living experiences, and get to the pure self; the essence of who we are, which is hidden beneath the layers and layers of feelings and emotions.
When our class was sent out to our individual sit areas in the woods (where we could be alone) to do this exercise, we were given 45 minutes. We wrote down each layer and why we felt that way. I worked very hard to move through the layers because I had paid a lot of money for this class and I was going to get the most out of it! Shortly, I found myself being distracted after each layer. My mind would wander off in a day dream until I remembered the exercise and pulled myself back. Going deep in those layers was surprisingly difficult. There was some resistance by my physical mind; almost a little tantrum of not wanting to look for another layer, thinking there could not possibly be anything else, and being tired of the exercise. This resistance was almost painful.
I remembered, though, when Tom sent us out he hollered after us in his booming voice, “If you think you have gone through the layers far enough, keep going!!!”
I am so glad I forced myself to move doggedly through the layers. This exercise gave me a priceless gem of understanding. I got to the point there were no more layers of emotions, only a vision of energy, symbolism which I understood, and a sense of who I am at the most pure level: strong, powerful, amazing. I was shocked at that revelation and couldn’t help bawl my eyes out for the next half hour; not even stopping when we were called in, it was that uncontrollable. I was full of joy and gratitude for what I saw/understood. I can never forget that moment and the change it brought to my sad, hopeless and helpless little life.
I share this exercise with you. Could you make use of peeling back the layers to learn who you really are? Would this enable you to approach life from a greater understanding.
If you should choose to do this exercise you may share your results here. I would love to see how it works for other people.