Self-reflection allows us to clarify who we are—and who we are not—take chances, and reach out to let our hearts meet others.
By Mary Boutieller
Self-reflection—the ability to discern our behaviors, to tease apart the things that feel right versus those which bring discord, is an important part of my life these days. Much like hindsight, self-reflection often occurs when the voice inside my head says, “I wish I had done ‘this’ instead…” These instances give me the opportunity to take another step forward in clarifying who I am and who I am not.
Michelangelo once said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Piece by piece, he removed what was no longer needed to reveal the masterpiece already residing inside the stone. This is what we do, day in and day out, if we are awake and breathing. We carve, not to fix necessarily—because fixing infers that something is wrong—but to hone in on the truth that is already there.
As we delve deeper into who we are, we experience the seesaw ride of life—revealing our truth and then covering back up again. We feel happy one moment and crabby the next, for no apparent reason. We feel kind and generous, then act harshly toward another because they trigger something in us that hasn’t healed. We think our wounds are ours alone and that no one else can see or feel them.
And then something happens.
The other day, I witnessed a woman walk away with slumped shoulders wrapped around her precious heart, and I felt her pain. I felt it because it was also my pain. Memories of past rejection and heartache flooded my consciousness—thousands of tiny cuts, as they say. I wondered about the wounds we all carry, and how it is that we heal from those tiny cuts. How do we recognize the frightened child (or adult) who only wants love or acceptance, whether in ourselves or in others?
And, equally important, how do we reach out and let our hearts meet theirs—raw and open, even when it is uncomfortable? At Samaritans.org, they suggest that we start a simple conversation. We say hello; we ask about their day. Simply checking in with another might change the road they are on for the better.
James Carroll said, “We spend most of our time and energy in a kind of horizontal thinking. We move along the surface of things…(but) there are times when we stop. We sit still. We lose ourselves in a pile of leaves or its memory. We listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper.”
That whisper is the stone being carved away, chip by chip, revealing the person underneath it all—the one who isn’t afraid to feel or love or fail. The one who is willing to take chances, to dive below the surface and swim the big waves, even when it’s scary.
This is the person I want to continue to unveil in myself. One who is not afraid to reach in and reach out, knowing that it’s not a straight road and it certainly isn’t perfect. The “two steps forward, one step back” adage feels pretty accurate.
Still, there is progress…and that is something.
The awesomeness of this life and these revelations fill me with hope…knowing that there is more to uncover.
Nancy at Sweetbird Studios said, “I have learned to change the narrative of my story from often fear to curiosity. To feel scared and do it anyway.”
Have faith, my loves, and know that you are beautiful and resourceful and amazing. Be curious and chip away at that which no longer serves you—be it a habit, an attitude or a belief, and become more of who you already are.
Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.