Waking up to power is amazing, fulfilling and challenging. It is amazing and fulfilling because when I am outside my element (and my power is almost always most evident when I’m outside my comfort zone) and I do something that I never though possible, I feel self-empowered. It has been in those moments that I have been shocked to see what I am capable. But trust me I would never have flexed those muscle were I not forced to do so. And that is precisely why it is also challenging. But we can exercise our muscles before we need them. Exercising any muscle requires going just beyond what is comfortable. But afterward we are forever changed. We develop muscle memory. This is waking up to power.
Life with out judgment
If we want to practice waking up to power, we first must see clearly. Seeing clearly often includes non-judgment. For example, as I’ve become more awake, I’ve learned that I have three default responses to any situation: optimism, doubt and sadness. Which emotion gets triggered depends on how much duress I’m under. If I’m physically tired, but in a general good mood and not particularly stressed, I’m likely to respond to the unwanted with doubt. If I’m physically tried and emotionally unsettled, chances are good that sadness will get triggered and so on. But I would have been much more difficult to recognize that about myself if I judged my experience because often judging something as good or bad, stops deeper exploration.
Once learned knowledge can’t be unlearned
I’ve lived abroad, learned a new language and after all this time I’m still starting to understand the subtitles of European cultural norms. Living abroad has not been without its challenges. But because of these experiences, I know that I can do more, learn more, have more fun than I ever imagined. I can move to a new place, learn a new language and create a life for myself. In the same way, through my practice, little by little, I recognize that I can perceive more physical sensations, sense more difficult to perceive emotions and recognize more deeply held beliefs and even the old wounds.
Armed with that knowledge, I can console, encourage and remind myself how far I’ve come and what’s possible. I can also appreciate that observing response to every situation—wanted and unwanted—without judgment is exactly what enables me to response to each moment in a way that supports my hopes and dreams. But I have to accept the wanted and unwanted first. Non-judgment of the full spectrum of my being— reacting and responding— has been and is ultimately beneficial.
Recognizing the discomfort zone and too much zone
Now that I can observer my life experience with kindness, it’s easier to notice the subtleties because I don’t sensor out information with my judgments. Charles F. Glassman wrote in Brain Drain The Breakthrough That Will Change Your Life, “Even the smallest changes in our daily routine can create incredible ripple effects that expand our vision of what is possible.” Noticing difference can require fine distinctions, like knowing the different between pain and discomfort or dis-ease and panic. Discomfort is when I’m learning. Pain is when I’m doing too much. The too much zone is when I’m pushing myself to hard, too far and for too long. In paying attention to the present moment, I experience my life in greater detail and I learn thing about myself.
Fear and anxiety many times indicates that we are moving in a positive direction, out of the safe confines of our comfort zone, and in the direction of our true purpose.
― Charles F. Glassman, Brain Drain The Breakthrough That Will Change Your Life
Development is a lifelong process
A life enpowered is characterized by our ability to accept change. I’ve found that just when I figure something out about myself, I evolve and change. Then I need to go explore that and figure out what that part of me means or needs or wants. It never serves me to be ridid and unchanging. Adaptive behavior supports us as we navigate the demands of life, as we attempt fulfill our needs. Maladaptive behavior, on the other hand, refers to the type of actions that inhibits a person’s ability to adjust to certain situations. I invite you to have patience with yourself and ask why, instead of why not.
Adapting to inevitable change
Whether adaptive or maladaptive, our behavior can be measured by our ability to thrive under different conditions and circumstances or our generally ability to adapt to the inevitable changes that will occur over time. In mindfulness, there’s no end game to arrive at, there is only the process of living. There is no right way or wrong way to “it.” The object of the game is to be here and notice what’s happening, however that occurs. That’s it. There’s a certain fluidity in that kind of strength. If you notice what’s occurring in your life, you’ll begin to know what needs to be done.
Saying yes to life
I don’t know if I’ll ever like the unavoidable moments of discomfort, but I see them coming and sometimes (not always, but sometimes) I even welcome these guests knowing they ultimately bring something that is good, cleansing and ultimately uplifting to my life. Sometimes I step back and take a nap because I don’t have the strength to be bombarded by guests. But that too is part of waking up to power this knowing to calibrate myself, knowing when to give myself a break, so that ultimately I can adapt to life’s challenges in a way that supports me in a positive way. For me, waking up to power is just like life itself— sometimes it’s thrilling and sometimes it’s tiring. But it’s always more interesting than living on autopilot, disengaged from this moment of my life.