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Living as an Expression of My Natural Self

Posted by Alina Liao on

I had a breakthrough this week when journaling in my custom Zenit Wellness Journal. For years now, I’ve heard the sayings: “You are enough” and “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” I've written them in my wellness journals. While I understand what these sayings are getting at, I’ve never been able to fully embrace them. They sound nice but have never felt like they apply to me. 

In addition, lately, I’ve had a desire to not have to do anything and instead just be. As I’ve expressed this desire to just “be” in my custom wellness journal, I’ve felt guilt. “Oh, so you want to lie around doing nothing?” my critical inner voice chastises. Well, no, I respond, I want to “be”...but I don’t know what that actually means.

Since acknowledging my depression, I’ve learned that I don’t have the capacity to be goal-driven. My decision to press pause on being goal-driven goes against generations and decades of what I’ve been taught. But having done so, I’m seeing how the relentless emphasis on, and glorification of, goal-setting and achievement has overtaken my ability to believe “I am enough” and to value the journey. I’m not saying that setting and achieving goals are bad, but too much of anything is harmful. 

In my healing journey, I’ve taken an interest in learning about Buddhism, partly to better understand a major source of mindfulness and meditation that is all the rage in the West, and partly to feel more connected to my family and ancestry. In an episode of the podcast, Buddhism for Beginners, Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo referred to practicing our spirituality as “an expression of my natural self” - just as the rays of the sun are a natural expression of the sun. 

When I heard those words, I felt lighter. As I was journaling in my Zenit Journal about my thoughts and feelings around this idea, I saw how I can apply this approach to how I live generally. For me, this is what it means to simply “be.”

When I think about making choices and living day to day as “an expression of my natural self,” I feel calmer, more settled. This approach helps me let go of the relentless need to constantly try to be some aspirational version of myself. It invites me to come back to who I am at my core and make choices and take actions that are natural extensions of my true nature. When I think about living and existing this way, I feel...amazingly...at ease.

This approach to living also shows me how I can better set and enforce my boundaries. When I think about living as an expression of my natural self, it feels easier to deflect my habitual urge to sacrifice who I am to appease others. 

Finally, I’m seeing that living as an expression of my natural self does not mean “lying around doing nothing” and being stagnant. So long as a tree is getting its basic energy sources - oxygen, water, soil, sunlight - it will grow. And the tree in this moment is not the same as it was five minutes ago or five seconds ago. Growth is natural. My growth is inevitable, as long as I continue to nourish myself like I would nurture a tree. So I don’t have to force my growth. All I need to do is bring my awareness to my growth as it is happening.

Reflecting and journaling about this, I feel good. I feel hope. I’m still at the starting line of my healing journey, but with this approach, the path forward is cleared. I’m ready to take these steps forward - not to get anywhere, but to experience each step as my natural self. “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet,” Buddhist monk and activist Thich Nhat Hanh says. I’m ready to walk this way. I’m ready to experience a new way of living that emanates from within. I’m ready to know that I’m enough in each slow step I take.

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