Maintaining Your Authenticity by Going Lightly
In these first, make-something-happen weeks of January, I was pushing myself too hard.
I say 'too' hard because seriousness and intensity can steer me away from my integrity. I was listening to old thought patterns. I was making choices based on the imagined pressure, instead of what’s truly important to me. And it took an insistent raven to snap me out of it.
Ravens have a very meaningful role in the indigenous knowledge and beliefs here on the West Coast. They are part of the creation story and symbolize the cycle of death and rebirth. The raven is both lighthearted trickster and consciousness shifter.
I used to regularly spend time with other ravens out by the Yukon River, listening to their gurgling voices, watching them soar and play in the wind. It was mesmerizing. They shook me awake, these raucous birds, swerving, diving and calling me toward carefreeness.
So I was intrigued by this one who landed on a tree just ahead of me, high up in the branches. She croaked three times loudly and I wondered what she had to say to me. I greeted her and waited. She croaked and went on ahead and so I followed.
When I walk in the woods, I a quick pace. I’m happy when I’m sweating, my heart’s pumping blood and my body’s getting a great exchange of fresh air. And I don’t like to break my stride. So when I followed her up to the highest part of the ridge, I didn’t feel like climbing up to the rocky viewpoint. But this beauty swooped over my head and landed on the lone tree up there. What could I do but go to her?
There, with a sweeping view down the inlet, we had a long conversation: her croaking three times and me replying with three squawks of my own, her croaking four times and me replying with four. When she went silent, I sang to her. She watched and waited, and then gave me her reply, “Take it more lightly, dear.”
Oh right. I can push less. I can trust this seemingly unpredictable unfoldment of my life.
I bowed, grateful for her wisdom, and stepped back onto my path.
And for the next 10 days, I adopted a simple, heart-lightening practice I want to share with you:
Pause a few times in the day. Take a full breath and say out loud what you’re doing right here and now. I’m feeding the cat. I’m making hummus.
Next breath. Why did I choose this activity?
Another breath. How is it affecting my energy and could there be more ease and lightness?
Wait and listen.
What transpired was this:
1. Reconnection to purpose.
Naming what I’m engaged in at the moment brought me more fully into the task and the intention behind it. For example, I’m not just writing right now. My intention is to connect with my circle, support and inspire you, and share from the gifts I have received. And you are not just reading; you are looking for something.
When we are connected with our Why in the moment, we are connected with our deeper purpose.
2. Awareness of possibilities.
I discovered some of my “all or nothing” thoughts and recognized that there is a whole gradient between going hard and going lightly. It sounds obvious, I know, and it’s something I forget. I can catch myself rushing something for no reason or tensing my body while doing a completely non-life-threatening task. My energy drains and my spirit dims.
So it was informative to explore the subtle effects of a lighter approach to preparing for a meeting, talking with my daughter or walking in the woods (more on that in a moment). What I noticed was that, whether it was for five seconds or a couple of hours, my energy was lifted and, interestingly, my mind was clearer.
Every time we recognize that we have a choice and every time we choose, we are cultivating our ability to habitually choose, at any moment, from the core of who we are and what’s important to us.
Intentionally going lightly created more room for being Me. I wrote previously about chameleon tendencies of blending in and dimming one’s light. After a week of doing this practice, I felt a little more personal sovereignty, living my life more authentically and some more connection to the light within me.
And therein is what I love about words and their multiple meanings: going more “lightly” means being more in the Light.
I’ll leave you with that, a reminder from a raven.
With you on the journey,
I was in the woods again, this time down on the lower slopes. I saw a flash of white on the hill above me, a dog, then a man, coming my way down the trail.
I’ve been a little afraid of dogs since I was a kid. I’ve been consciously rebuilding my trust in them and one of my strategies is to make sure they see and hear me. Surprised dogs can be aggressive. So, although I could no longer see the dog, I spoke a hello up the trail.
Then I came around a curve and he jumped out from behind a big tree, barked loudly and came running toward me.
Five years ago this would have really scared me. I would have yelled and cowered. But today I felt that lightheartedness the raven had spoken of. In the moment of surprise, I made a quick pause and took in the situation. Just a tiny moment of curiosity instead of insta-panic. And I realized he was playing hide and seek with me.
I laughed, partly at the fun of being unknowingly included in a game and partly in realizing that I have made a shift on from an old pattern and stepped into a more trusting relationship with the dogs of the world. So it is.