We each have a unique journey to take.
The challenge is to own it fully.
We may have heard that we are our own greatest teacher, but how do we live this truth?
How do we find the beauty and grace within ourselves without trying to mirror someone else’s, without taking on something which does not belong to us or claiming someone else’s view as our own?
When we learn to lead ourselves then we begin to expand into our potential—then we can serve as we are meant to serve. This is our responsibility. This is our wonderful journey.
We each need to find out for ourselves.
And we can.
The answers are within us all, and different for us all—as we are each beautifully unique. There is no cookie-cutter form to define the path to or the goal of a well-lived life.
However, the more we dive deep and seek, the more we find there are some universal truths.
These truths are not my own creation. They have been around for thousands of years, in theories and practices across the globe. As I have sifted through the vast array of infinite knowledge embedded in the great religions and spiritual practices, these four gems shine through—solid and bright, worthy of our attention.
So maybe I’m just pointing out the obvious. But if you’re even a little like me, sometimes we need a bit of prodding to open our eyes to see what’s right there in front of us.
These things have helped me pick myself up when I’m down, raised my energy when I have needed it and brought me back onto my path when I have stumbled and stalled. When I practice what I’m preaching here, the energy has proved contagious and uplifting to those around me too.
But first, let’s consider what this “better” life is and why we are searching for it.
Here in the States, the mainstream leads us to believe that “better” is more. More money, prestige, power, position, possessions, trips and stories, labels and accreditations. Bigger is better. The more the merrier. Consumerism, capitalism, and the damning desire for more, more, more!
We’re told “better” means having the perfect partner, a powerful job, tons of money and an awesome body. How many of us think these things are essential to this “better” life we long for? “I’ll be happy when…”
I’m not saying these things are bad. They are the stepping stones to a bigger life—with a bigger ego, bigger debt, bigger complications, bigger struggles and a bigger picture in which we are still not better.
These are not the things that bring us inner peace, contentment, point and purpose, universal understanding and compassion.
And so we begin to shift our focus to where we are, what we have, what we can do and who we truly are.
We begin here. Not tomorrow. Not down the road. Here and now. We start with ourselves, we look within—a beautiful place to expand from.
Not because we think bigger is better, or more is mightier, or we want to keep up with the Jones’. But because we want to find inner peace and also outer peace, in the wider world.
Four steps sounds easy. Some days it is. Some days it’s not. As with any practice, the more we practice, the better we become at it. But first, we must start. And second, we must continue.
This practice honors the “best” within you and life itself. Through practice, we expand our mind/body/soul balance to the self/community/universe connection with gratitude, grace, respect and humility.
Keep it simple, or go as deep as you can. Take three minutes, or thirty. Just do it.
Deep breathing is an art with many forms. This is but one way. This is based on the simplicity of centering, grounding and being. Begin with three deep breaths. Imagine the path of air like a cane flowing through your physical being. Bring your breath fully through your body—deep-down, bright and fulfilling.
Breathe in through your nose, imagining the air moving up through your head, down your throat, through your lungs, heart, organs, and down into your core, through your solar plexus at the center of your physical being, all the way into your belly, the dantian, the cauldron—below your navel, where your chi or life force is stored. Then, slowly exhale. Follow the path of the breath up, and outward, letting go.
Focus on each breath, following it through its complete path within you. Long, slow, deep breaths. Honor each one. Watch it flow through you. Move your attention with it.
This step creates relief, freedom and space. It is about letting go. Letting go of anger, fear, attachment and our ego. These are contracted states that do not serve our “best.” This is surrender. This is the hardest step. Try. That’s all you can do, and that alone is so much.
Begin with forgiveness. And in forgiveness, begin with yourself. Forgive yourself. Accept, allow, be grateful, grow. It is part of going through what we went through that allows us to be where we are now.
Be thankful for the past, but do not dwell on it. It is past. Release completely. Holding on to the past is self indulgence. Visualize yourself standing in a cool stream, with the past in your hands. Honor it with grace and gratitude, and then let it go, dropping your hands gently to the water, allowing it to float free, down through the cleansing river, away from you. It no longer serves you. Why hold on still? Continuing with your breathing, on each exhale, release more. Deeper. Fuller.
Our ego—the mighty lion roaring within us all—fights the hardest to hold on in times of change. You are changing. Allow it.
Imagine with each exhale, the ego, the past, fears and anger leaving you—floating out, flushed away or blown out into the ether where they can be returned to the Infinite Universe. Release.
Now is the time to fill the void back up, recharging that space that was flushed of fear, anger, resentment and ego with Divine Light, love, positive vibration, expansive energy—call it what you will. This is the good stuff. Imagine it. Feel it.
Visualize it coming from above—a beam of brilliant light reaching down from the heavens, penetrating into your crown, pouring into you, filling you, becoming you, radiating through you head to toe and continuing deep into the core of the earth.
Watch, feel, open and receive as this light pours forth luminous energy into you, filling you completely, radiating abundance, understanding, and love. See yourself completely glowing, a ball of light radiating from you—from your center, shimmering gold or white or a luminous rainbow. Pure light. Pure energy.
This powerful force shines within you, through you, from your center, deep within the core of the beautiful body you were given, outward—infinitely expanding.
Now we move beyond our self, our ego, our body, our aura, our space. Now we expand.
With each breath, we radiate that inner light outward, farther with every breath. Begin on the in-breath, concentrating that light and wholesome vibration radiating deep within the center of your being. On the out-breath, send it outward to share it. Offer it. Extend it.
Again, breathe in to return to your center—your heart light where the energy concentrates and increases in intensity. And again, breathe out to expand this light far beyond your physical being. Inward to replenish. Outward to extend. Send the energy further with each breath cycle.
Begin close, with those dearest or nearest to you. Then move outward to your community, to nature, to all beings, to the Earth, to the Universe. Breathe out to an infinite expansion. As far as your beliefs will take you, and maybe a little further.
Perhaps it is reaching outward just to the person next to you, and that alone is so much. Or maybe it’s further. Where ever this step takes you, whatever feels right to you, it is beautiful. This is bliss—beyond one’s Self and a part of the Whole.
It is outside of you. And yet you are part. Go with it. Expand.
And here we find the paradox: we are both everything and nothing, everywhere and nowhere.
Completely connected. Giving, offering, sharing, reaching out. As we expand our energy, we expand ourselves. You are with this step making a better life, making the world a better place by reaching out with love and light and connection.
Four simple steps take us so far and yet no where at all.
We breathe into it, we release, we replenish, and we connect. And in doing so, we feel better. We are being a better person. We are creating a better life.
With each breath, we can create a better life.
Namaste. The Divine in me honors the Divine in you. What a wonderful blessing to conclude with.
Author: Gin Getz
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Jeremy Keith/ Flickr