We all have identities and we all have egos. The problem comes when these two collide, when we begin to believe that a particular story about ourselves is who we are. When working with clients, the first thing I do is help them make a shift in their identity. With a few questions I can quickly find out where a particular identification with one’s ego is strong and a disservice to them. To really make a change, especially a change in our health, we have to give up the stories about who we are at a deep level and exchange them for more serving ones.
Awareness Sets You Free
Generally, for someone who has grown up with a particular health condition—obesity, acne, eczema, or ADD—their identification with these experiences are rather strong, especially in the case of a diagnosed disorder such as ADD. In western medicine, labels are given for nearly everything that appears to be a problem, even if short term. A tiny fraction of individuals consider these conditions separate from themselves, and an even smaller minority of people march to the drum of their true potential: health.
I am not saying being proud of a health issue will reduce the risk involved; however, when someone is more defensive in their identification with a problem, there are usually deeper-rooted negative beliefs present that are being suppressed. Chances are these negative beliefs have a lot to do with the “manifestation” of the health issue. Such a person is sadly a prisoner of their identity. This mountain of negative experiences, labels from others and themselves, and the habits and feelings of failure must be moved first. What we give up on—freedom—must then become the very first thing we find, before the weight loss, beautiful skin, and remission of disease.
You Are Not Your Mind
Fortunately, we are not our mind. Many of us believe we are the mind, but the thing we have associated ourselves with is actually our reactive brain. Anyone who identifies with the brain is going to have the same troubles. If I place a pizza in front of you and you pay attention, you’ll notice your brain send you some messages: “eat this” and “eat the whole thing!” If you ever observed your mind’s messages, they are mostly reactive survival messages sent to you for the fearful need to stay alive. You are not the mind—you are the choice maker, you can say no to these messages when they do not serve you.
Those who feel they cannot say no are the ones who have made themselves prisoners. Their impulses have the upper hand. A very small part of them watches the disaster occur as they inhale the oily, high calorie pizza. They have become a helpless bystander, watching themselves like some horrible television show you don’t want to be part of. However, you are far from helpless! What is missing is actually very simple: a window of freedom, an opportunity to harness awareness.
Harnessing the Power of Awareness
To harness awareness is to awaken action awareness. The window of freedom is a gap between thought and action, a very tiny space in time. However, in that space is eternity. Deepak Chopra calls it “the gap” while others call it the truth. You can call it freedom. There is a simple procedure you can exercise to leverage this space of infinity:
- As you rise in the morning, make it a point to immediately notice your first waking thought before you do anything. Where is your mind at? Do you have a morning routine that leads your mind to race to the coffee pot? What is the thought you have? Do your best to catch it before you take any action. Lie in bed until you observe your reactive, automatic mind.
- Next, make a conscious decision to say no to that choice, even if it’s serving you, just for the sake of this exercise. Instead, before you do anything, ask yourself, “What can I do this morning to nourish myself deeply?” When you get your answer, make the decision to do it.
When you do things automatically, you live robotically and in a sleep-like state. The problem with even most exercise and health protocols is that they too teach you a new habit; they never teach you how to consciously make decisions. What is healthy for you today may not be healthy for you tomorrow or even in the next moment. When you act robotically you stay a prisoner of stored identities. Instead, remove all automatic reactions and learn to consciously respond to each moment. To do this is also simple, much like the first exercise I shared. Because food is such an important part of optimal health, let us start there.
There is a space between hunger and food choice. In that space, instead of acting according to old beliefs, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I actually hungry?
- How much do I need to eat?
- Is this the food I would ideally choose?
- If I really loved myself, what food would I give my body?
This space between hunger and eating, where you make your choices, is not an empty space. It is actually filled with infinite awareness. This might sound mystical to you; you may rather choose to call awareness, open mindedness. This is close enough to start exercising your decision making power. With an open mind, you are free to think the thoughts you have. You are willing to drop conditioned beliefs you hold onto so tightly and see life in a new, fresh perspective. When we stay closed, we stay a prisoner; there is no conscious decision making in a closed state of mind. We may think the beliefs we have are ours, but they are most likely handed down to you from parents, society, media, and teachers, which are all fear-based mentalities. If they are not serving the expansion of your health, happiness, and overall life experience, they are likely not yours.
With awareness, you have the joy of escaping limitations of old identities that are keeping you bound to the past and far from your unlimited potential. The first step to radiant health is to open that space of freedom where you—the user of your brain—can say yes or no to old beliefs and start creating new ones.