By Ciel Patenaude–
We human beings will do just about anything to avoid really looking at ourselves, at our true selves. We will go to no ends to avoid really seeing and understanding our emotional damages and how they shape our lives—and what we can do about them. We will shop, eat, drink, drug, blame, exercise (or not exercise), and generally numb ourselves in a trillion different ways from day to day so we don’t have to come into contact with the core of our being, unsure about what we would do when we got there and really saw, with open eyes and hearts, the truth of our habits and conditioning.
I would argue this is the manner in which most of us exist all the time. Lacking the coping skills to really come into contact with and work through our emotional damages and psychological challenges, we escape. Each generation compounds the damages of those before it as we fail in working towards greater self awareness, personal intelligence, and compassion as a species.
It’s about time we started talking about it rather than attending to the symptoms that result from this lack of personal awareness, such as increased violence, environmental destruction, political dysfunction, and general illness. We must get to the root of the issue—the sadness and hurt that exists within each of our untended hearts. A happy and balanced individual does not attack others nor mistreat themselves or their environment.
I imagine some of you may be thinking that, in fact, the very opposite is more prevalent in today’s social climate, for our culture is often criticized as being some of the most indulgent and narcissistic individuals who have walked on the planet. We are consumed by nothing but our own wants and simple desires, ready to walk over anything and anyone in an incessant march towards the fulfillment of our selfishness. Surely this means we are aware of who we are and what we want?
The selfish, self-serving, and narcissistic qualities of our culture speak not to awareness and personal confidence, but to the core wounding that causes people to forget their connection to all that is and work only for the betterment of their own experience. They relentlessly aim to numb the pain. They are incongruent in body, mind, and spirit, and live in a place of fear and separation.
If we are to heal we must look within. We must collectively transform ourselves through honest reflection of our selves and our purpose. We must come to live for more than money and consumption, or even for the unrelenting drive for political activism or social reform (which can be as much of an avoidance tactic as drinking or eating or anything else, when engaged with so vehemently as some do). We must do the work, and we must become mature and responsible adults in every way.
But the work is hard. Really hard. After we have lived lifetimes and generations without intensive self-awareness, starting on this journey is a gargantuan and seemingly impossible task. The practice and process of looking inwards brings us into contact with all of our unresolved pain and dysfunction, and that’s not a nice thing to look at.
But… it must be done, for the difficulty that we will encounter both individually and as a collective if we don’t do this work is profoundly more difficult. So here’s a basic recipe on where to start:
Start to make friends with your own mind, and begin the arduous and, yes, overwhelming task of seeing and making friends with your emotions and mind by doing just that. Ask yourself some big questions and make the time to explore them: What is the purpose of your life? What are your values? What makes you happy, and how can you do that more often?
Journalling brings about massive transformation for those who engage with it daily, and can be an accessible yet powerful tool in the process of self discovery.
2. Learn to Communicate.
This is like telling someone in my yoga classes that they need to learn how to breathe, when their likely response is that they’ve been breathing their whole life, right? Sure, we know how to speak, but do we know how to communicate? How do we say what it is we really need and want in a way that other people can connect with and understand, and which leads to greater personal and relationship awareness? Programs like Non-violent Communication can make all the difference in your journey towards self-awareness, facilitating the inner work in a way that feels somewhat safe and normal.
This is the hardest one, for sure, and yet the one that leads to the greatest transformation of all, for it is the meeting of our own minds directly that we are presented with the greatest opportunity to reassess and acknowledge our own thinking. Meditation of any form—though simple breath awareness is great—trains the mind to focus on the present, allowing us to have mindful and conscious interactions with both our own processes and with the situations and people that present themselves to us. Meditation is essential and life changing.
Winter is the time of turning inward, as at this time of year we go into a mode of hibernation that is the perfect circumstance for looking at and working through own personal incongruities—those places where what we say, think, and do are not all the same thing. However, as previously mentioned, it’s really hard to do, and we will tend to try to escape this process as much as possible by drinking or eating or numbing through the winter months.
This winter, as a dedication to the enhanced evolution of your life and of the entire world, I would request that you spend some time making friends with yourself, and explore the process of self inquiry so that you may work to go beyond the wounds and challenges that have defined you so far. I ask that you serve a new possibility of humanity that supports this process for every person all the time, and do the work yourself. This is the greatest work any person can do on the Earth at this time, contributing in small but significant ways to the healing that is required for all of us.
May all of us clear our hearts and minds of doubt and fear, for it is no longer optional for this work to be done.
Ciel Patenaude is an Integrative Health & Shamanic Practitioner based in Williams Lake, BC. A highly trained and naturally gifted intuitive healer, Ciel holds a BSc in Biology, an MA in Integrative Healing, and is a certified Yoga Teacher & Wellness Coach.