by Joel L, Western Australia
These pages are filled with some amazing stories, all with a common theme: people talking about a new found sense of self that appears to have stemmed from taking a deeper level of responsibility for, and commitment to, themselves. The term given for this way of living has been called the ‘Way of the Livingness’.
I am also a student of the Way of the Livingness and can say that the ‘me’ I am re-discovering is, without a question, the real me. In fact, it is that part of me I have wanted to connect to for most of my life. The simplest part about the Way of the Livingness is that it didn’t ask me to follow a set diet or regime. All it asked was for me to pay attention to the choices I was making and the effect they had on me. Over time, I noticed it made a difference when I slept, what I ate and how I exercised; in fact there was very little that I did, that did not make a difference to how I felt.
In the past some of these choices became ‘needs’ or ‘demands’ – they became a regime I had to follow. As such, I was adding stress to try to improve well-being. With the ‘Way of the Livingness’, each choice I make connects me to a part of me that feels so amazing, so solid, so true, that making all those choices does not feel like a chore, a sacrifice or a drain. In fact, eight years on and I am more relaxed, I have more energy, time and productivity – yet I am more dedicated to the detail of my life than ever before.
However, I have noticed a limit in what I can ‘improve’ in my life through these lifestyle and diet choices, and that the intention I have with any given task is what makes a profound difference. This means at some point I needed to move the focus from what I am doing in each moment, to how I am in each moment. In fact, ‘how I am’ comes before anything I do, and the ‘how’ often determines the ‘what’.
Sit with that for a moment, as there is a huge difference – there is a real possibility that there has been a difference between ‘who I have been’ in all my actions and ‘who I really am’ in my essence.
The wonderful part is the possibility that I might be able to stop wasting energy with all those things I have chosen so that the world would see me a certain way. It has been huge for me to realise I made a contract with the world many, many years ago: the contract was that if I act in a certain way, the world would leave me alone. If I worked hard, was a good dad, a good husband and a nice guy, other people would accept me… in fact people might even praise me.
This is not to say that the ‘real me’ is not all those things, but that when I do them to hide or because I think I should do them, to gain the acceptance, or to fly ‘under the radar’, it feels very different to when I do them because I choose to. The reality is, the only reason the choice to show ‘me’ feels scary is because I have spent so much time living behind the ‘front’ that the world has come to expect.
What makes the contract I bought into ridiculous, is that it hasn’t been all roses and caviar. Some of the roles I agreed to play included giving my power away to others, feeling despondent at times, being the provider (for others, but not for myself), and putting a lot of effort into hiding behind Mr Nice.
In truth, the contract was a bum deal, yet I signed up to it and paid my dues every day with every action and every breath… my payoff was I got to keep hiding. So if I was out and people were drinking heavily and I felt tired, Mr Nice would match their drinking so as to not be left out or stand out – while the real me wanted to thank them for the evening and excuse myself. Hiding was also joining in when a group of guys started talking about sports, cars, or denigrating women – while the real me wanted to say ‘I’m not that into sports’, and offer another topic.
By being ‘the same’ I can hide, by being ‘me’ it sometimes feels like I am very visible in that moment. Even though being visible feels true, real and lovely, the temptation to blend in was, and to a degree still is, very strong.
So on one hand there is a love so true that it asks nothing but for me to be with it (be with me): on the other, a contract so draining that it hurts to feel the fatigue in my body from trying to live up to it.
You would think the choice to stand as me, with all the joy and vitality that brings, would be a no-brainer, but I still feel the tug of that contract niggling at me to not buck the system. At times others don’t like the fact that I am changing the rules I live by… but maybe it’s because they have been hiding too, and need me to not change. At times I don’t want to feel all the joy that is there to feel because it reminds me of the time I have wasted.
I am still finding ‘clauses’ in the contract that I didn’t realise I had signed up for, but regardless of this fact, the ‘Way of the Livingness’ is a new deal I am making with myself.