Self-Esteem: a practical and spiritual approach
Everything is coming and going just like clouds in the sky. Mooji
PRESENCE AND CONNECTION
I remember attending a course on self-esteem in my late twenties. At one point the facilitator asked the group to give a definition of self-esteem. Suddenly he pointed his finger in my direction for an answer. At that moment I was a little absent, blank, my mind sort of empty ….. so I just looked at him without answering … breathing … in silence … and he said: this is self-esteem!
After so much research on spiritual well-being I now understand the meaning of that moment: it is in the emptiness of the mind, in the silence of the ego, in pure being, that we find our value and the meaning of life. When we forget who we are, where we come from and where we are going, a void is created and a state of pure presence remains. In this state there is no room for self-criticism, only connection and deep calm.
In the emptiness of presence we let go of all identities and become like children playing. Children have no self-esteem problems, they just play. Their mind is not yet developed, so there is no self-criticism, only instinct. There is no interpretation, only experience. Whilst playing there is only presence, pure joy and creativity,
So is the mind the root cause of low self-esteem? In my experience the mind can be a cause of great suffering. The good news is that we have the power to direct it, together with a more intuitive and authentic ability to respond to life, allowing the universal intelligence flowing through us.
So let’s see step by step how can we overcome those negative mental and emotional patterns blocking this state of presence and connection, necessary condition for self-esteem and unconditional self-love.
OBSERVING AND EMPTYING THE MIND
We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are. Anais Nin
When we observe the mind with detachment and let go of any emotional tension in the body the external reality does not influence us and we can live in presence. When we look at our thoughts with discernment and let go of all automatic conditioning, we can then listen to the deep voice within.
We live in a society that bombards us with images of how we must think, be and act. Family, school and society dictate rules and regulations, stereotypes we need to conform to, which become mental filters for all our experiences. Let’s think for example about the common belief that women are better at dealing with emotions and intimate relationships whilst men are more logical and combative. Or the Western materialistic scientific paradigm which disregards the world of Spirit, the infinite vibrational field containing all archetypal energies.
These imposed images and stereotypes influence our vision, we are in fact invaded by the visions of others. Conforming to roles and rules prevents us from having a fresh and original experience of ourselves and of life. Instead of authentically expressing ourselves we are blocked by self-criticism and self-doubt.
The practice of being aware of our thoughts and their impact on our emotions and body is a liberating one. Listening without judgment makes us fluid, thoughts and emotions observed with neutrality enter and leave the body with ease. For example: I’m not quite skinny … goes in and out, I failed as a mother, goes in and out, I’m not good with money, goes in and out … I’m scared, goes in and out … I have pain in my heart, goes in and out.
Observe and empty. Observe every thought passing by, like clouds in the sky.
Above all, feel all emotions and tensions in the body. The mind in fact tends to repress them, for protection. How do I feel right now, what is happening in the body?
Notice the tension in the body and let it go.
Observe the emotion and let it go.
Use your breath, inhale and breathe slowly, observe and release.
The practice of observing and emptying helps us staying in the present moment, as we let go of all past memories and future expectations. When we empty ourself of all our memories and desires, we have a fresh experience of the present moment.
Then a silence rises from deep within.
A great sense of peace, in the rhythm of breath, in the emptiness
This is not an original practice, it is found in many religions and philosophies. I talk about it because I applied it and it works.
It works because it is simple. We do not resist your critical thinking. We let it flow through us. We don’t repress negative emotions, which unexpressed turn into physical tensions. We feel them and let them go.
We become transparent: everything passes through.
Fear comes and goes, anxiety comes and goes, pain comes and goes, anger comes and goes, whilst the Self observes everything with detachment.
In the same way we must let go of other people’s thoughts and emotions, let go of their behaviours and judgements. Let them flow in and out of our body. These are only projections of their ego, of their wounded personality. No reactivity, only transparency.
We all have a spirit inside that wants to break free and the first step is to empty ourselves of everything, so that we can listen to its essence, eternal, divine, ever present.
RECEIVING AND SENSE PERCEPTION
Whoever brought me here, must take me home. Rumi
Perception, as the ability to receive information from the environment, creates self-esteem. It provides us with an inner compass that guides us in every single step in life. The force that brought me into the world, which allowed the growth of my body and moves the whole universe, must also be able to guide me in coherence and harmony.
To receive this guidance, to hear the messages of the soul and the universe, we must open up, putting ourselves in a state of reception. It is about perceiving the environment around, all facts, things, thoughts and behaviors with clarity and no interpretation. It is about listening to our inner voice, the one that belongs to our essence.
It is a matter of putting experience before the interpretation of the mind, first I feel then I interpret.
It is about being in the present moment, the mind empty and all the attention on all five senses.
If you look at a sleeping cat you can understand what I mean. The cat once deeply relaxed now suddenly wakes up, with all his senses alerted. The cat is now very still, listening to a sound, smelling a scent, breathing the wind, looking at a small animal running away, the mouth watering from the smell of some food.
With sensory perception we can receive so much information. With neutrality. The mind is in fact at peace because it is not thinking, it is only listening, looking, smelling, tasting or feeling with the skin.
Perceiving means listening to the body. This is what shamans know well, when they say that the Higher self speaks to the body directly, bypassing the conscious mind. I use the principle also for shopping: if a dress gives me a feeling of expansion in the heart I buy it, if it causes me a sense of constriction in the third eye I leave it.
The body connects us to our instinct through precise and individual sensations. Try small things, listen to the reactions in the body to people and ideas, to foods and environments. Feel with the body.
Another concept that belongs to shamanism but also to quantum physics, is the one of the unified field. We live in a sea of conscious energy, an intelligent universe that interacts with us continuously. Shamans listen to the mountains, to the wind, to the sea and the woods, receiving messages from nature and its spirits.
I recently went trekking in Slovenia and as I was climbing I asked the mountain to send me a vision of my future. I saw hard-working ants everywhere, who spoke to me about communities. ” At the top of the mountain, I felt the power of the rocks and the earth but also of the stars and the cosmos. This taught me that I must be rooted and at the same time that I need an expanded vision. I also realized that if I take one step at a time I can reach the top, although at first it may seem an impossible mission (like 3-4 hours of steep trekking ahead of me, with no training!)
An ‘other type of perceiving’ is metaphorical sensing, meaning our subconscious speaking to us through symbols, myths, archetypes and deities. Our soul expresses itself in a complex language, often more dreamlike than logical, but no less effective.
Going back to the climbing example, after 20 minutes walking I thought I was going to die! With my heart pounding and my leg muscles trembling, I was about to give up. I asked for help to Spirit and the image of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent God, arrived. The plumed serpent moves slowly slithering, its body is on the ground but he can rise as he has powerful wings. The deity is connected both to the sacral area for our capacity to be rooted and to the third eye for our ability to see. In fact with wings we can see things from above, with a broad perspective.
I immediately turned my attention to the center of gravity in my belly. At the beginning of the climb in fact all my energy was in the shoulders, in the effort of pushing myself forward. I started walking in a slithering style, moving only my legs and hips, and it was so much easier and lighter! At the same time I focused on the image of the hostel at the top of the mountain, as the final vision of my journey. I imagined embodying the plumed serpent. I was inhaling the energy from the earth into the legs and sacral area for movement. Then I was moving the breath along the spine to reach my third eye and fix on the goal of the hostel high up at the horizon. Proceeding slowly but with determination, I reached the top. And the experience was light and enjoyable.
The ability to perceive connects us to an instinctual navigation system which gives us the resources to pursue our goals, therefore increasing self-confidence. Having climbed Mount Triglav increased my self-esteem, I discovered I could do something I had never done before.
IMAGINATION AND INTENTION
You create your own reality. Seth
In terms of pure energy mechanics, to perceive means to receive from the universal unified field. The unified field can be compared to the internet and us to users looking for information. It becomes clear that the other side of communication is transmitting.
As beings of light we creatively transmit our energy to the universe. We do it continuously with words, emotions and actions, but our first ability is to focus on precise intentions and imagine different visions of reality. ” When we manifest consciously we become creators and increase our sense of value and personal power, in addition to the pleasure itself of expressing our talents.
The practice of setting goals and imagining different scenarios of reality creates an energy matrix that attracts events, people and synchronicity. In every area of life, health, work, personal relationships, wealth, setting long-term goals creates an energy anchor in the future.
There are various ways to create this transmission to the field and perhaps the most important element is simply to do it, with confidence. At the beginning the process may seem confusing. There are so many things we want in life and sometimes these are in conflict with one another. This is why the first two steps outlined, the one of emptying and receiving are important. In the silence we slowly receive thoughts, images and sensations of what we really want.
Sometimes what we want are qualities like love, courage or freedom, and it’s okay to start like this. Let’s imagine how it would feel if these qualities were present in our lives now. We want to do this with passion, feel these qualities with all our being, body, mind and Soul.
Whether we imagine a small goal or a great vision, it is the final outcome the one we want to represent: the ideal home, work or lover. If we had all the necessary resources, what would we really want to create in our lives? What would it be our final destination?
To create a vision you can use symbols, objects and colours, creative writing, written and verbal affrmations, lists of projects and ideas, lists of talents and achievements, friends who can help us.
In the beginning the process is like a free stream of consciousness, during which it is better to remain fluid and accept the brainstorm of ideas. Slowly, in fact, the vision gets clearer and increasingly more specific. With an outlined vision it becomes easier to focus.
Resistance often emerges when we start focussing on our vision, all those reasons why it is impossible for our dreams to come true. Wounds from childhood and other negative conditioning can surface as challenges on the path. Becoming creators means becoming responsible adults, able to hold our vulnerable selves and to create a discipline for our vision to manifest. All strengths and weaknesses, failures and achievements are resources to be used in creating this sense of mastery, of response-ability.
When doubts or difficult emotions or other self-limitating patterns emerge we must empty again, going back into inner silence. The void can be uncomfortable and scary. It is often easier to fill it up with things to do or other addictions. But it is only in the depths of silence that we find the voice of our Self and perceive which vision of creation wants to emerge.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo da Vinci
In the end we come to a full circle with emptiness, perception and intention combined together in a dynamic and non-linear process.
From an energy perspective, the equation is very simple: I empty, I receive and I transmit.
When I am free from any limiting conditioning I receive inspiration as I am in constant connection with an intelligent universe, blissfully dreaming itself into being.
There is no separation between us and the divine, between our energy body and the unified field.
We are light and we are co-creators.