As we prepare to send our children back to school we might want to visit our own arena for learning, LIFE. As adults we are faced each and every day with opportunities for growing and learning about ourselves. The challenges that come to us are often in the form of attachments to thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The ways in which we relate to ourselves, others and to God often give us a great deal of feedback regarding issues, beliefs, and concerns that we need to shift or change.
I believe that we are all personally responsible for how our lives are going. We are responsible for the choices that we make and the beliefs that we hold. We can choose how we are going to show up for life and how we are going to let life impact us. By attending to our habits of mind, body and heart we can become aware of how we are blocking ourselves from being fully present to our lives. To be fully responsible for our lives means that there are no excuses, no one to blame and no guilt or shame for the lives that we are living.
It is important to view the others in our lives as “mirrors”. What we see in another is a projection of unwanted or unaccepted aspects of ourselves. In this way others in our lives act as teachers for us. These teachers help us to reclaim aspects of ourselves that have been devalued or disowned. The next time that you are relating to someone ask yourself, how do I see this person? The answer that arises in you is a clue about what you need to be aware of in yourself. An example of this might be: if you see another as powerful and successful, then it’s possible that this is an invitation to look at your own success and power. How is your power being expressed or not expressed? How can you make changes in your life to be more responsible for creating power in your own life?
If we believe that we create our own reality and that we are personally responsible for everything in our lives, we may find that we become more attentive to ourselves. We may take greater care in choosing what we feed our bodies, our minds and our hearts. What we take in is often what we put out, so the invitation is to be more aware of how we are engaging in life. Be aware of the areas in your life where you feel “inferior” or “inadequate”. Examine the source of these feelings. Begin to create your life using your your own inner wisdom as a guide that is based on information you take in regarding yourself. Let others in your life be a mirror for you, but not the creator of your life…that is your job only!
Another way to use life as your school is to be mindful of your focus of attention. What do you pay attention to? Are you aware of the habits of mind, feelings and thoughts that are at work in your life on a daily basis? These habits inhibit you and keep you from being fully expressed in the present moment. Let the things that you are attending to be your guides concerning what in you needs further study, and then work harder at mastering these lessons. The result can often be an experience of being more fully alive and present in each moment.
So as our children go off to school, perhaps it is time for us too to re-engage in the school of life. Going to school can provide us with opportunities to grow and face the challenges of our daily lives. We can learn new things about ourselves and others and how to take full responsibility for the creation of our lives.
Of course, don’t forget about recess, play and fun! Take time to develop a balance of work, play and self-care. Otherwise you might feel like “dropping out” on your life.
Dr. Deborah Ooten is the founder and director of the Conscious Living Center.