Being You

A Meaningful Life is Being You

“The meaning of life is to give life meaning.”

—Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor, neurologist, psychiatrist, and author of Man’s Search for Meaning

What gives life meaning? Through the ages that is a question that philosophers and religious scholars have pondered. Today psychologists and other scientists have intensified the study of what makes life meaningful. A wide range of answers has emerged. Some say it is finding a purpose or passion, while others contend it is being useful, living according to one’s values, or simply finding joy in all one does. The answer, of course, differs for each of us, and it can change in different phases of our lives, or even in a moment when confronted with a sudden tragedy. I believe having a meaningful life is being you—your best self! Being you is showing up with right action and right conduct in every circumstance in life.

What is needed?

Viktor Frankl, who was subjected to unspeakable brutality and depravation in four concentration camps, observed that inmates who retained some meaning in their lives were most likely to survive.  He believed it’s not about having what you need to live, but asking yourself, “What am I living for?” Frankl kept the memory of his beloved wife and his hope to be reunited with her alive, which gave his life meaning. A Vietnam POW spent his many years in captivity mentally designing the home he would one day build—which he eventually did!

If one is confronted with unavoidable suffering, Frankl recommended asking what could be learned from the situation. Is there any meaning that can be squeezed out of seemingly meaningless or even disastrous or horrendous happenings? In the aftermath of tragic events such as wildfires and hurricanes, and even mass shootings, countless people find meaningful ways to help others in distress, whether neighbors or strangers; they rebuild communities, and they take action to get laws changed. For Frankl, meaning came from three possible sources: purposeful work, love, or courage in the face of adversity.

Being you

Where do we find guidance on the path to living more meaningfully? According to Richard Miller, PhD, yogic scholar and developer of the iRest® Yoga Nidra training, there are times when we forget our true essence, our Divine nature, and we experience what is known as the kanchukas, or five limitations (limited ability or capacity, limited knowledge, limited time, limited body or space, and scarcity). When this happens, there are messengers who point us toward being as we truly are. Miller affectionately refers to such messengers as “The Pointer Sisters,” after the R&B singers who got their start in the 1970s and are still performing today.

Miller says that we are all seeking happiness in one manner or another, and this is the underlying motive behind every action we take. The Pointer Sisters surface within our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions and relate to beliefs we have about ourselves. We get to know the Sisters’ presence whenever we feel disconnected or constrained in our daily experience. Then they point us to our wholeness with questions to help us realign. Let’s explore the questions.

Feeling separate

SeparateHave you ever experienced a situation in which you felt powerless or limited? However hard you try to rectify the situation, nothing changes, resulting in feelings of frustration, anger, or unhappiness. This is an opportunity to step back and acknowledge that the Pointer Sisters are present and have a message to share. You can discover the message by asking, Who am I? Am I a separate powerless being, or is my true essential nature potent and unlimited? Allow yourself to acknowledge and feel these opposites.

You’re not likely to feel potent and unlimited right away. It’s like trying on new clothes or a new hairstyle that may take time getting used to. It’s not about doing but about coming to accept your true self as whole and connected. As a result, you will be better able to address the situation that brought you to feeling powerless and regain a sense of wholeness.

Feeling confused 

There may be times in your work, managing your finances, and other situations when you may wish you knew more. You may need to obtain more knowledge or training, or consult with an expert. But when it comes to knowing what can truly bring forth a meaningful life or make you happy, what you need to know is already inside you. Accessing this inner knowing helps you with important life choices and decisions.

Do you really need to go to another spiritual workshop or read another book or even this column to bring you more in touch with your true self? Those things may be helpful for a while, but if the teachings are about trusting and knowing yourself, then perhaps you should ask Why am I continuing to pursue these things? It may be because you enjoy connecting with other likeminded people—not because of limited knowledge.

Feeling a lack

As soon as you get that raise or promotion or your kid buckles down with his school work, you’re sure that you’ll be happy. Maybe it’s a new job or the perfect relationship or winning the lottery that you’re counting on to fulfill you. In the meantime, you feel a considerable lack in your life: what you have is inadequate; you desire something better. Or, perhaps you are clinging to what’s present in your life for fear of taking a risk.

You may believe that because life is imperfect you too must be imperfect. But here the Pointer Sisters pose the question What am I? The truth is that you are already complete. I often reflect on how Frankl handled his holocaust experience as a reminder.

Feeling time bound

time boundDo you find there is never enough time to accomplish everything? Anxiety, frustration, or fear about not meeting deadlines may ensue. There’s certainly no time for reflection on what makes your life meaningful. The Pointer Sisters here implore us to believe we are born, then we die; in between time rules our ability to be happy. There is a paradox here. When we are deeply engaged in meaningful activities (in a flow state, also known as being in the zone), it can feel like time stands still.

Instead of feeling constrained by time, what if you were to ask When am I in the flow of life? How can you integrate flow into your life and make it more meaningful? When you do, the past and future become less relevant—and you open yourself to the wholeness of your essential being, which feels timeless.

Feeling limited in space

Time and space are scientific terms used to describe our physical presence in this world. But these are limiting factors when it comes to acknowledging the spirit that inhabits your physical body. You may feel your body is constricted and contracted with all the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that surface throughout your day. But your physicality is not who you truly are. Ask yourself Where am I? You are the all-pervasive awareness at the heart of your true being.

Pointing to your wholeness

Pointing to wholenessTake a moment to experience this right now by closing your eyes, taking a few long, deep breaths, and feeling your connection with the surface beneath you and the space around you. Welcome the Pointer Sisters to be present as you welcome what you believe your true self to be. Feel the limitation of your body. Then allow yourself to expand as the Pointer Sisters point you to the wholeness of your Essential Being.

One of the Pointer Sisters’ hit songs was “Yes We Can Can”: “Oh yes we can, I know we can can/ Yes we can can, why can’t we?” Yes, we can all learn to live beyond our limitations—and thus make this a meaningful life.

Join one of my free iRest courses where you can learn how to live beyond your limitations and Hanna Somatics Movement for pain relief each Tuesday.

keywords

What Are Your Keywords?

Have you ever noticed the highlighted words in an Internet article or blog? These are known as keywords, terms that are used to classify or organize digital content or to facilitate an online search for information. Prior to digital technology, on which we all depend these days, keyword referred to a significant or memorable term in the title, abstract, or text of a print document used as the index entry. Keyword is also widely used to mean a word or concept of great significance.

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Whole-hearted living

Embracing Wholehearted Living

“In a full heart there is room for everything, and in an empty heart there is room for nothing.” —Antonio Porchia, Argentine poet

We commonly think of the heart as simply an organ that pumps blood through our bodies. Yet we use the word heart in myriad ways in our everyday language. We learn things by heart, have a heavy heart, are lighthearted, or have a heart-to-heart with someone. Our heart sinks or turns to stone, we suffer from a broken heart, or our heart goes out to someone. We follow our heart’s desire, give from the heart, or get to the heart of something. Clearly, our heart has many more functions in our lives than simply pumping.  These functions represent fragments of a greater wholeness of being we have a tendency to lose sight of. It’s at the heart of whole-hearted living.

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Your core motivation

Discover Your Core Motivation

If you were a frog thrown into a pot of boiling water, you’d leap right out, wouldn’t you? But if you were a frog placed in a pot of cool water that was very slowly heated, you would be more likely to become lethargic, unaware that you were gradually and languidly moving towards your demise. This metaphor can serve to remind us that we’re not always motivated to make changes even though our lives are finite. Have you ever inquired into your core motivation? Read on. Continue reading

Joy of play

The Joy of Play

Have you ever spent time watching children in the joy of play—or animals, puppies, or kittens? What did you see? Spontaneity, curiosity, joyfulness? Did you have feelings of timelessness, purposelessness, or freedom? Did it summon memories from your own childhood? Do you wish you could be that playful child again? The truth is, adults need to play just as children do. Scientists have studied playing and determined that it is part of our biology. Continue reading

texting

Relationships that Really Connect

Social has become quite the buzz word. But what does it mean in today’s digital world? Social media presents a myriad of opportunities to connect with friends, relatives, business associates, and the world at large. Photos and snippets of one’s everyday experience “go viral” every day. Texting is a new abbreviated language that requires neither correct grammar nor punctuation. But social has a vastly different context when it relates to our true happiness and well-being. Continue reading

heartfelt desire

Desire Points the Way

Imagine you are walking in the dark along a foggy path using a flashlight. The path ahead is lit up, so you don’t stray off course. The fog represents your past and future and the challenges of your everyday world. They have no importance in this moment. The flashlight is your conscious presence. The lit path represents being in the present moment. When you learn how to step into the timeless world of Being, you are better able to navigate the storms of your outer world.

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invitation to life

An Invitation to Life!

Traditionally, the year-end holidays are a time for expressions of gratitude and gift-giving. We acknowledge others for their contributions and thoughtfulness and give thanks for the yearly harvest we have reaped. Are your life working and are your coffers full of all the resources, joy and love you desire for living the good life? Or do you fear a winter of discontent?

Why not accept an invitation to life, change course and get more fully engaged in the flow of life.Continue reading

navigating change

Liminality: Navigating Change, Life’s In-Between Spaces

We’ve all had this experience:

inbetween spaceThings are moving along in a natural progression. Life is good. Then something happens that turns your whole world upside down.  You may feel overwhelmed, confused, or you may feel euphoric. Perhaps you’re not sure how you feel. You’re navigating change, and you’re in a state of liminality.

Navigating Liminality can be challenging and requires great courage.
It can also be a time of deep inner reflection.

Rites of Passage

navigating changeThe word liminality, originally coined by anthropologists, referred to various rites of life passage. The root is the Latin word, “limen,” meaning “threshold.” It’s the crossing over from one state to another, as in the space between wakefulness and sleep.

A change of place, social position or age can precipitate this condition. Liminality has three stages: 1) Leaving where you’ve been or experiencing a loss 2) Passing through an ambiguous stage 3) Emerging into a new realm with renewed resolve.

Life passages are often celebrated
through formal rites or rituals.

In an indigenous culture, an adolescent moving into adulthood performs a vision quest to find himself and his intended spiritual and life direction. In modern culture, ceremonies are performed for graduations, engagements and weddings. One’s entire life is recognized and honored at a funeral or memorial service.

Often these events are led by elders, shamans or clergy. They help guide us through these transitions, offering wise counsel and encouragement to pass through the liminal threshold for what lies ahead. Wise guides are not always present for our passages, though.

Navigating loss

navigating change“Who are YOU?” asked the Caterpillar. Alice replied, rather shyly, “I–I hardly know, sir, just at present –at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”

~Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Some life changes come about through an unexpected circumstance or catastrophe. There is little, if any, time to prepare. Whether experiencing a natural disaster or a personal loss, we can never know how we are going to feel or react. This can be the most challenging liminal state of all.

Losing a loved one, even when it is inevitable, creates a void and can leave you feeling empty.

When my mother died, I felt like an orphan. As I dwelled in the liminal cave of healing, I began to rethink who I was and what was my purpose in the world. With the help of a strong support system, I emerged at the other end inspired and with a huge amount of creative inspiration and lust for life.

Loss of a relationship can be a blow to your self-esteem. Thoughts like, “what did I do wrong,”  “I’m not navigating changeloveable”, “I’ll never find another”, appear and cloud your mind.

When this happened to me a few years ago, I made the decision not to take it personally, trust that it was for the best. Beating myself up or holding anger served no healthful purpose. I’d been through other losses and always bounced back. I needed to forge a new path. A surprising healing takes place over time for most of us, especially those with a strong support system.

Job transition

With job loss, however, the longer one is without a job, the more likely one’s liminal period can include anger, depression and loss of self-esteem. A plummeting sense of self-worth can paralyze.

Yet, this can be a real opportunity to reevaluate your life. Examine your gifts and talents and uncover your true passions. Discover how you want to live the next chapter of your life. I have led many people in transition through this process.

Transformation

A liminal period can be life-transforming – for better or worse It may be short or long-lived, even permanent.

Sometimes people drop out of society. Some vow never to be in relationship again, living with anger, guilt and resentment. Some accept jobs at less pay or status. Others heal, seek new relationships, start businesses, and re-enter the social whirl in a new form.

This can be an opportunity to step back, to review your creative foundation and life purpose. A time to test your potential.

I move into liminality every time I begin to write these articles. I may think I know what I want to say. Then, through research, introspection and extemporaneous writing, new ideas emerge and flow onto the page.

Inner work of navigating change

Liminality can be the rich soil to grow creative ideas,
a new road to travel or even a new identity.

IntentionOur lives are constantly in flux. We’re absorbing new information, reflecting on the past, aspiring towards the future. Discomfort with transition can cloud our perspective. Anxiety and fear may try to divert us. Know it is just your fragile, threatened ego trying to block change.

Liminality can be taken into meditation where you can step back and reflect. Watch your mind, your thoughts and feelings. See problems as objects floating inside your head based on your perceptions, not who you really are.

Invite the ego to sit in your guesthouse of awareness, while you explore with openness the vast potentiality available to you. Explore the liminal space between thoughts, between breaths. This clears the pathway to commune with your Source where truth, peace and love reside, bringing you to a place of wholeness and enabling you to reenter the world anew.

“From the moment I fell down that rabbit hole I’ve been told where I must go and who I must be…….but this is my dream. I’ll decide where it goes from here.”Adventures of Alice in Wonderland

Welcome liminality to help you decide where that will be. ~ Namaste

Join my free iRest meditation groups held weekly on Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons where you’ll find space to rest and explore this further.