Summer. A time of joy and sunshine. A time to rejuvenate and flourish. A time to experience and grow into those thought provoking inner changes that surfaced in the cold of winter.
One of those surfaced changes for me was to truly start experiencing life and by that I mean, concentrating, focusing and listening to how I feel and then act versus what I think I should do and think about how I should feel. On the surface and intellectually it seems like a splitting of hairs, feeling versus thinking, but in a heart-felt sense, there is a huge difference.
All of my life I did what I thought was right. I followed what I was told to do that would make me happy. I would always think before I acted so that I could map out all consequences and cautiously take all the necessary steps. I would always think before I spoke so that I could weigh the impact of my words on all people, made certain that I took everyone’s feelings into consideration and made sure that I chose the words carefully so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. All that thinking has gotten me to where I am today, but over the past several years I realized there was a huge consequence to so much thinking – I cut off my heart, my feeling centre, my intuition, my gut, if you will.
I never trusted my gut, my intuition; that inexplicable feeling one gets. My brain was trained to negate those feelings because I couldn’t logically explain or justify them to others. Those gut reactions felt like they went against everything I was taught or told, so I went the route of the intellectual and like all good intellectuals, I intellectualized my feelings away.
So this summer has been a concentrated effort of feeling and experiencing. Not thinking about what others will think. Not thinking about consequences. Not thinking about whether I should or shouldn’t do something. Instead I have given myself permission to concentrate on being as true to me and how I feel at any given time. I have concentrated on expressing my feelings in the moment, or as close to the moment as I feel them. (My friend and mentor used to tell me I have a “delayed ouch” – meaning I would feel the pain of someone’s actions 6 months after the fact because I would spend so much time listening to my head tell me how I was wrong and what was wrong with me). I have concentrated on keeping those critical mental tracks at bay and am taking chances with my heart left, right and centre!
The result? I feel alive. I feel hurt. I feel joy. I feel sadness. I feel peace. I feel pain. I feel freedom. I feel more connected and real with the people I love and care about because I feel more honest and sincere. I feel less ashamed about who I am and how I feel. I feel more pride in taking chances and doing what I want instead of doing what I think others want of me. I feel more present with what I am doing. I feel less distracted by the 101 thoughts of all that I should be doing and the 1001 thoughts that put me down for failing to do all that I should be doing.
All of this feeling is far easier to practice during the heart of summer when life naturally feels lighter. And truthfully, if you are going to challenge your thinking, an extremely difficult task, summer is the time to exercise and cultivate change, to build in new routines and ways of being, to lay the foundation of feeling and flourishing into yourself. Not to mention time to sit, be still and listen to your heart. Wishing everyone a happy feeling summer!
Return to Cynthia Mitchell at Sweet Perspective