Do you remember the song that had a refrain; 'More, More,More'?
This seems to me to be the slogan for consumerism and possibly capitalism. Buy more things, travel to more places, have more experiences, be more, earn more, try more, get better qualified,get more status, be happier, healthier, more, more, more.
We have taken this mantra into the personal development and spiritual world with us. We see a counsellor to get better, a coach to move forward and be more creative and more successful, we go to herbalists and nutritionists for better health and we practice yoga to become more flexible and strong.
But what if the whole paradigm of more, more, more is wrong?
You might remember the scene in Shrek 1 where donkey and Shrek are off on their quest to save princess Fiona and are walking through a field of sunflowers. Shrek explains that ogres are like onions; they have layers. It seems to me that we do too and that more, more, more living adds to our layers, we think we have to add to ourselves as we grow older.
Maybe this is why we look stouter, heavier, more solid as we get older, maybe this is why we become more set in our ways; because the layers we add on; experience of pain, of loss, of disappointment armour us and add another layer.
What if life is not about acquiring and improving and developing? What if it was about stripping back, surrendering, letting.go?
I've toyed with yoga for over 25 years but I've recently started a regular morning practice and I am seeing changes in my body already. To start with I thought I was learning to touch my toes, learning to twist my spine, learning to balance; I thought I was acquiring new skills.
But the more I practice the more my experience is that the postures are simply allowing my body to let go, to surrender where it was previously holding itself tight. It feels like as I touch my toes, I have a memory of touching my toes in my body and in my head and that the practice is simply helping me remember that. My body also seems to remember balance the more I stand in Eagle Pose and it remembers flexibility as I do the Downward Dog.
When I first noticed this, I was surprised. Had my body ever been really flexible? I have no memories of being able to touch my toes ever. And then I saw a baby. A baby with it's legs in the air, wiggling and curling on a mat and I saw that of course my body remembers flexibility, I came into the world as a supple, healthy baby. I have just forgotten. Learning yoga has simply been learning new tools to strip away old blocks.
This has been a critical paradigm shift for me. I now look differently at the therapy work I have done. Instead of seeing it as a process where I have learned more about myself and acquired more insight and become happier, it feels like what I have actually done is peeled layers from the onion. That instead of moving forward to emotional health, I have been removing layers to take me back to the center where emotional health has always been, before it was conditioned other to add layers. Instead of learning to be happy, I was remembering how to be happy.
This mind-shift has also changed how I see my coaching. When I reflect I see that the most powerful work a client does is when they strip off layers and find the things they have always loved doing, the strengths that have always been there but not seen clearly. Coaching teaches new tools to remove old blocks to our energy and our clarity.
Meditation is the practice of letting go of attachment to our thoughts and feelings. Eating well is the process of returning our body to health.
Even as a teacher and trainer I notice that whilst I do share new information, the most powerful work that I do is remove the blocks that are preventing understanding and learning taking place.
So rather than needing to be changed, or more, or different, all we need to do peel away blocks and layers to get back to the center of our self. Instead of more, more, more we need to let go, strip back, release and surrender.
We were born flexible, we were born emotionally healthy, we were born with an urge to survive and thrive.
We just forgot who we are.