Love thyself and every aspect of yourself. That is the first step on the road to ultimate freedom. For when you love yourself fully you are capable to love others fully. And of course this is a special kind of love, not associated with the ego, accolades or the material/surface level of this world. It’s not always easy and, for me, takes real work. I’m learning this late in life and really the birth of my daughter initiated this journey into self love & self care. I couldn’t live with myself if my daughter were to model the self hate & self loathing I’d just thought was a normal part of existence. It’s never too late to start, practice and continue along this path and so I will always be a student. I’ll help share any advice or tidbits along the way as you should feel free to share with me and the rest of us. Each one teach one.
Everything has, at the very least, dual aspects: darkness/lightness, macro/micro, masculine/feminine, solar/lunar, etc. and on and on. A good way to think of this is that everything lies in a spectrum. Take a piece of wood you might’ve found, for example. There is a dual aspect of hardness/softness, the extremes. That piece of wood lies somewhere between the extremes, it doesn’t matter where, and so encompasses both aspects. Once you fully realize duality you will learn that there really isn’t an ‘Other’. You encompass The Other as well and this should help dissipate the fear of the other.
It might take your entire life but you’ve got to do some self reflection if you want to grow as a person (and end some suffering). Hopefully it won’t take a lifetime because life is short and there is a reason why people respect decisive people: it’s hugely important to authentically know what you want as well as what you don’t want (in the Macro and Micro). Drugs can help, no doubt. Meditation is supreme. But…really…just checking in with yourself and what you still believe to be true is valuable. I mean if every 7 years, biologically, we’re a new person then you might not hold the same beliefs, you might not like the same things. And the inverse can be true. You might only need to notice yourself a bit, as an objective & neutral party, to see what you actually feel, how you feel it & then perhaps Why you feel it.
Look up a ‘Feelings Wheel’ and realize how useful it is, on a moment-to-moment & day-to-day level, just to be able to identify your feelings and understand why you’re feeling that way. I’ma make me a big ole’ poster of one cause I needs ta see ALL those feelings.
Know the World (and your place in it)
The burden of knowing is pain & suffering, an immense existential angst. But with that knowing comes a sharpening of steel if you push past. This, like everything in life, can be a tool to help you decipher the world for the better. Nothing is born out of a vacuum. Everything has been installed & propped up for a reason and it goes back centuries.
Once you understand the thousands of years of programming & propaganda you can notice how you, personally, have been processing the world. Take a moment to consider your thoughts without the influence of the culture you were brought up in. Now strip away everything your parents or community taught you. And then, finally, take a moment to consider how you’ve programmed yourself: what ideologies, ethics & beliefs do you promote, consciously or not? Consider all you consume and how it might sway your thoughts & moods. As an experimental excersize you can keep pushing this task and meditate on what it feels like to shed ALL of these external/internal influences in thought. Now…what remains?
Don’t get bogged down in this fact, don’t become a victim, and definitely don’t flog yourself for any imperfections or ‘sins’. But use it to inspire you to protect the vulnerable, the unheard and the under represented. Now you’ve got your sharpened intellect & the search for truth to help guide through this, sometimes, darkened world. Light the way while striving for equality for all by loving the All while understanding where we’ve been, where we are and where we have to go. Orient yo-self Yo!
The musician Laraaji said once (and I’m hugely paraphrasing), “As well as trying new things I also pick times where I do the same ole’ stuff I always do in different ways: taking a different route if you usually drive down the same road. Putting your T shirt on 1st if you usually start with your bottoms. Writing or drawing with your left hand if you predominantly use your right. In these tiny moments I’m training my heart & mind to be more open and accepting of change.” Hearing that really clicked for me: change is constant & inevitable and a lot of pain & suffering can accumulate if you’re holding on to something like ‘control’. Another aspect to that ritual is to force adaptability & flexibility which is something humans can do in spades (if we allow it). Open your heart & mind. Start with the surface level just to dip your toe in. If you dress like a preppy try dressing like a punker, or vise-versa (& versa-vise, and so on). Wanna go deeper? Take an ideology you hold dear and, even if for just a second or so, take the opposite or antithesis of that once prized ideology. I have no doubt this will be uncomfortable but that’s part of the point. The process of opening yourself up can leave you vulnerable and questioning but that’s a great place to be. This allows for new ways of thinking and perhaps interesting ways to synthesize seemingly disparate elements for novel ideas & authentic evolution.
If you’re trying to figure out who you are, and what you want out of this existence, this forced augmentation will definitely help. Seeing, and living, both sides of the coin (along with the full spectrum in-between) will help you to realize exactly what you do love and what you won’t put up with, etc. Once you’ve altered yourself sufficiently I’d suggest building an altar to the things you really cherish & love. For me this might be stickers, pictures or art of my family, David Bowie, Dali, Kubrick, cartoons & artifacts from nature. But everyone has their own journey so no matter if you are part of a collective I encourage your individual worship of yourself, as a shinning light upon this earth, and of your passions & loves. You can meditate near this altar, pray, talk to the muse, counsel or just remember what’s important to you. And we all need a reminder sometimes of what’s important. Who better to remind than yourself, after taking time to cultivate the meanings from your own journey through this life. And perhaps your altar will change, evolve over time, and that’s rad too.