SARAH NAYLOR shares her personal emotional journey from poor self-esteem and negativity to love, confidence, clarity and purpose in life. The wonderful thing is the ease with which it happened.
Over the years I’ve been practicing Heartfulness, I’ve experienced countless positive changes in myself, which others have noticed and commented upon. I’ve gone from being fearful and depressed to generally happy and relaxed. From feeling lost and muddled, with poor self-esteem, I’ve developed confidence and clarity. A life which felt rather lonely and pointless now feels filled with love and purpose. The amazing thing is that I don’t seem to have done very much to enjoy these benefits.
There is a popular belief that in order to change yourself and clear negative traits and behavioral patterns, you need to roll up your sleeves and work hard, devoting time, analysis and willpower. It’s almost as though you are a sculptor dissatisfied with your work, and you have to chip and carve away at yourself to smooth off rough corners and reshape certain unattractive parts of yourself. It takes effort, sweat and tears.
With Heartfulness it is different. As we practice the simple components of Meditation, Cleaning and Prayer, old patterns and unhelpful behaviors simply dissolve and fall away – at times without us even noticing. Aside from these practices, all that is really required is our attention and willingness to look at ourselves honestly.
Taking a few moments each night to review my day from a calm and heart-centered place, I see that moments of discomfort and failure generally spring from one simple cause: reacting with the ego, rather than responding from my heart. Something happens. I react with like, dislike or fear, which often prompts me to take misguided action. Sometimes my ego feels threatened by criticism or a comment, and I try to resist the truth by arguing and making a case to show myself in a better light.
Either way, the cure is simple.
Pause. Connect with my heart.
Allow whatever is happening just to be
– including any discomfort I may feel about it.
Instead of action, do nothing, and
notice what is unfolding inside me.
Either way, the cure is simple. Pause. Connect with my heart. Allow whatever is happening just to be – including any discomfort I may feel about it. Instead of action, do nothing, and notice what is unfolding inside me.
The magic of pausing and accepting instead of reacting has made the most dramatic and profound change to my personal relationships and family life.
Others relax and become more receptive. There is more connection and more love. Arguments are avoided. My teenage daughter tells me something. I feel like reacting with a lecture, with fear, with defensiveness. I pause. Love flows into the space I’ve allowed. She feels it. She listens to what comes from that place of acceptance and love in a way she never listened to “Mum nagging.”
I find doing this both harder than I expected and incredibly liberating. When we receive criticism instead of going on the defensive, or when we allow something to be without demanding it be different, it can be surprisingly painful. We confront the gap between what we wish for and what actually is. We are trying to avoid feeling this pain when we attempt to change others and hide aspects of ourselves, whereas allowing ourselves to experience reality opens up a walled off, “stuck” old part of ourselves. Another layer of “baggage” comes up to be cleaned away, and there is inner progress. Instead of having to work at changing myself, it is as though I am in the hands of a master sculptor. The more I stop resisting and trying to change things myself, the more effortlessly I am remolded into something more beautiful and useful.
Our desire to be comfortable and have things a certain way denies reality and takes an investment of energy and action. It’s a relief to stop this futile effort. To replace the fruitless “doing” with the restful “nothing,” and to get such rich results from it seems nothing short of amazing.
I believe that therapeutic intervention can be wonderfully helpful at times to unravel and clear specific emotional issues, in the same way that using particular herbs or foods can support good health. However, the simple Heartfulness practices hold a secret key to extraordinary personal transformation, no matter how ordinary, flawed, or lacking in willpower we think we are.
Sarah is a certified practitioner of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a therapy and self-help technique which uses tapping on acupuncture points to clear negative emotions and patterns of behaviour. She is also a Heartfulness trainer and is married with three children.