The life we live tends to follow fairly predictable patterns, even in the ways that those patterns can change.
The early parts of our lives is mostly out of our control, but it sets the patterns that we will carry throughout our lives.
At the start of our lives, what we are to do is put before us by those in charge of our development, such as our parents and teachers. They are to help us with enough general topics that we get to better know what we are capable of doing. However, much schooling is focused on making us better workers, rather that bettering and learning about ourselves and the world for our own sake.
We are then basically forced to make choices from among a set of options of what others want us to do. Parents may want us to do what they couldn't do, or to keep up a family tradition, regardless of how well we are mentally and emotionally equipped for what they wish us to do. Teachers may think we have an aptitude for particular occupations, and so map out a path of learning towards that goal, regardless of whether we really want to go in that direction.
Of course, others can often see more of what we could be doing with our lives that we can at a time when we are too young to really know ourselves enough to make meaningful and informed choices. Mostly, we go along with their suggestions, depending upon how much pressure they place upon us. If we are fortunate, they will allow us some input into the process, and hopefully allow us to change course if we really don't want to continue, or if we are not really demonstrating the skills and outlook required.
If we manage to get through school without being thoroughly brainwashed as to what our life is to be, and have hopefully learned enough about ourselves that we can make some rational decisions about what we are really suited to doing, and not feeling too guilty about possibly going against all the advice so far given to us, we may then start to work for our best interests, free of unnecessary interference.
As adults, we are expected to be in charge of our lives, but that is easier said than done.
If we are feeling too hemmed in by our lives, we may try to rebel in ways that seem to offer an escape from those restrictions. Unfortunately, many of the options chosen out of a need to reject others have an element of danger to them, such as crime or hard drugs. These can be hard to back out of if we let them rule us for too long. Or we might just drift along, perhaps going from job to job, hanging out with different crowds, but not really getting to find a focus in life.
For most though, our lives are a living out of the programming we were brought up with. We may get a job that we sort of like doing, perhaps get married and have children, then settle down to a rather mundane life with which we may feel rather comfortable. It may have regular activities like sports, gym or a hobby that makes us feel like we are achieving some measure of happiness and success.
Whether we ended up rebelling or conforming, the life we end up having can be just series of distractions that enables us to avoid really asking ourselves the question of what life is really meant to be about.
Despite what we would like, life means change.
For many, life doesn't leave us in our distractions because we are shaken out of it by some traumatic event that forces us to sort of wake up to reality. It may be an individual event like an injury or serious illness, a family death, an epidemic or war. Whatever it is, life cannot really be the same, though we will often try hard to get back to some sense of normality which enables us to go back to living in distractions.
Often though, the trauma will spur a round of thinking about what is most important to us, which may lead us to some changes in outlook. We may find out that some around us were not really as much a friend as we thought, perhaps because we are not able to keep up with the same activities they thought we would be part of. Some may not be able to handle our change in outlook, and so will drift away.
Our personalities can be strong on preserving the idea of the self that we have become accustomed to thinking about ourselves as, so we will often bury the challenging thoughts and feelings so we can get back to feeling comfortable about ourselves again.
We may be able to deal with a couple of trauma cycles, but eventually we may come to an internal crisis of identity from which we cannot just hide among distractions. We are required to make adjustments to our sense of self.
For many, that leads to a reflection upon our lives so far and the choices we have made, even if we were to go along with what others have made for us. We may embark upon a re-examination of what we do with our lives from now on, perhaps resulting in us changing our jobs and opting out of some relationships that we feel don't seem to be working for us any more. Basically, we shuffle around some parts of our lives to establish a new life pattern to become comfortable with again. Changes made and a new me in charge! Maybe?
For some, life is meant to be more than a new normal!
Changing jobs or relationships may have come about because of an increase in our awareness of what we think of ourselves as being, but that is still putting our personalities at the centre of our lives. However, the personality is only our physical, emotional and mental selves, and that is not enough to really understand what our lives are really about.
After having to go through a few changes, we may still have a sense of there being more to life than just being comfortable and predictable. We then yearn for more meaning in our lives than just our personality needs and wants. That may spur us to try to understand the mechanics of our personalities through psychology, which may give us insights and some self-awareness, but it doesn't shift our perspective that much.
To do that, we really have to look at the expended sense of self that comes through undertaking the inner journey towards our higher self. Reading books on spirituality may shed some light on the concepts of the expanded self, but taking the steps to make it a reality is the real challenge.
The more that we open to our higher self, the more we get used to communicating with it, and so trust it more. Eventually we may be able to do it at will, allowing us to be much more responsive to its input. By this process we can adapt more rapidly, and so accelerate the transformation of our personalities into a divine instrument, able to truly serve humanity and the earth.
The goal is to be open to the input from our higher self. It is generally not possible for the personality to be consciously connected to the higher self for more than short periods, so it is about being open to it whenever it requires. That will be at most important at times of strategic decisions to do with the personality life, so time should be given to make space for it then.
For some, life is meant to be more than a new normal!
The first step is self-awareness, to which psychology can give some insights, but more powerful tools are relaxation, mindfulness, contemplation and meditation, which all work to open the inner doors.
Relaxation is learning to quiet down the body, emotions and mind, so that we are not distracted by what is going on around us or the noise of our spasmodic feelings and thoughts. We typically relax by focusing upon our breath while sitting in a comfortable seat and slowly breathing in and out for as little as a few seconds, but up to a few minutes. The result should be a sense of the present and being in our body. We may feel our heart slow down as it has less work to do to supply energy to our body. We may feel a sense of peace.
Mindfulness is about staying in the present. It is automatically part of relaxation, but it can also be done by becoming an observer of what is going on around or within us, but without being distracted by our thoughts. We can do it by successively focusing our consciousness on each part of our body, also known as yoga nidra, or sitting on a park bench and watching a person nearby go about their life.
Contemplation is about thinking about a topic and its implications while in a state of relaxation. It requires being in the present and not feeling tense or fearful, so it can be proceeded by relaxation or mindfulness as preparation. Keep the thinking simple and direct. If feelings of agitation or worry occur, just do a short spell of relaxation. Some topics may take several sessions to get to get a fuller understanding of what course of action to take, so just deal with what can be handled in each session while keeping in the present and relaxed.
Meditation is the state of being in the higher self. It is not to be confused with the means of getting there, such as relaxation, mantras or chanting. It may be worth using a guided meditation audio or soft music to get used to the process, as long as there is a period of no talking to allow a chance for the consciousness to rest in the inner. The period of actual meditation may only be short glimpse or sense of the inner, and may not be the same each time.
Interestingly, taking up a hobby or learning and doing something which is of interest to us requires mindfulness to learn and contemplation to understand and plan the next steps. Spending hours a week on such endeavours can be very relaxing and a distraction from worrying about money or how to fulfill someone else's expectations. It is an exercise in learning to be the owner and director of our own lives, while avoiding being too caught up in ourselves.
It will take time to get used to working with these tools. Generally this is facilitated by making a time each day to get used to them and adapt the rhythms of our thoughts to them.