The Single Most Powerful Words We Can Say Today & Everyday.

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

There are things we know.

We know them because, at the very bottom of things, we are all the same in at least one fundamental way: we are trying to be better. Better to others and to ourselves and to the world. Better as lovers, friends, care-givers, citizens, activists. Better as humans.

We want the world to be better, healthier and happier, and we have learned that to do this, we have to work on ourselves.

And so we find books and read what wise people before us have learned about the path of (self) realization. We learn, find communities of like-minded people, meditate, pray, and set intentions. We try to tread lightly on the Earth and focus on positive outcomes.

We have also come to understand that we need to be a little bit selfish in order to be more giving.

“I often joke, half sincerely and half seriously, saying that if we wish to be truly selfish, we should be wisely selfish rather than foolishly selfish. Our intelligence can help to adjust our attitude in this respect. If we use it well, we can gain insight as to how we can fulfill our own self-interest by leading a compassionate way of life.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

We understand that we need to care for ourselves so that we can care for and serve others, that we can’t relegate ourselves to the far-off, dusty corners of the room and then expect to be a radiating presence when we step out into the world.

We have learned, in other words, that to self-nurture can possibly save the world.

But. But. What is most simple can be the most difficult thing to achieve.

How do we typically understand self-care?

We try to eat right, get enough exercise, breathe deeply, take time for ourselves, walk in bare feet on the grass, hug a tree, do creative things. We purge our spaces and try to simplify our lives. These are great things to do.

Still, we are consumed by the feeling that it is not enough, that nothing is happening, that we are not free of the darkest parts of us, ever-threatening to spill over and cause destruction from the inside out.

Maybe we need to simplify even further. Get down the very bottom, to the deepest, most basic nitty gritty of it all.

We want to learn how to love ourselves more? (Yes—self-care and self-nurturing necessarily lie on a glorious pillar of self-love).

How about starting with saying it?

I love you.

It’s not too difficult to tell ourselves that we should love ourselves, that self-love is our birthright. Right?

Yes, I love myself.

It’s not too hard to say it and even be a little bit convinced.

But now let’s try this: let’s go stand in front of a mirror.

Take a few moments, breathe deeply, and take a really good look. Contemplate what is right there. Notice the lines, the symmetries, the colours and folds of us, the changes. Make discoveries. It might be shocking, disappointing, refreshing, terrifying, exciting.

It probably won’t be boring, because we don’t often  take the time to try and examine those aspects of us that manifest physically and ever-so-slowly on a daily basis. We have images of ourselves based on our thoughts and memories, on our best photographs scattered throughout the social media universe, and through what we’ve been told by others. So we come to feel we “are” a certain way that that this “way” is unchanging.

None of this is in the mirror staring back at us. The mirror can’t show us our memories, only what is there, reality as it is, if we’re being truly present to the moment. And we want to love all of it.

The first time I stared into my own eyes with the intention of telling myself “I love you,” I was startled by how reluctant I was, how I felt like I was taking up far too much space. I felt so incredibly naked, and a stream of thoughts and feelings coursed through me.

You’re not worth this exercise.

Go away and work on yourself some more first.

This is ridiculous.

(in a tiny voice) But I don’t love myself, so how can I say it?

I brushed aside my terrible fear of telling myself what I say so freely give to the people in my life who matter to me so much. I used my thinking mind to convince me that it was perfectly alright for me to do this exercise, that it’s meant for everyone. That I truly believe everyone is worthy love, and that this must include me.

Say it out loud, I told myself. It will be much more effective. I knew this because of how difficult the prospect was.

My face in the mirror looked at me expectantly, and very shyly.

“I love you.”

They were the loudest words I’d ever heard. Almost an intrusion. Love bit right into the gentle space of a world I’d concocted for myself that offered many paths of least resistance, where self-love was being shelved for another day.

Tears flooded my eyes instantly. I could feel the little girl inside of me filling up with hope and an openness I hadn’t felt in a long time.

I love you.
I love you.
I love you.

I watched the tears roll down my cheeks, and a smile come to my lips; I noticed my mouth had a tendency to purse in a way that reminded me more and more of my mother’s mouth.

I come from my mother.

I come from a pure vessel of love.

I come from an enormous, aeons-long lineage of love. A human legacy of love.

Tammy T. Stone

It’s the simplest thing we can tell ourselves, and also the most shocking, and possibly the most activist-oriented and transformational thing we can do for ourselves, if we want to really begin

“I love you” is a great, powerful, tumultuous gateway to a universe full of infinite love, and what a service we’ll be doing the world if we can find our way there.

 

*Published in elephant journal, here.

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Make Your Rose-Tinted Glasses Work For You!

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

Most of us pass through typical milestones or rites of passage as we grow older, designed to propel us into a new stage of being.

These include going through puberty, getting our driver’s license, landing our first “real” job, getting married, having kids and so on.

All the world’s cultures have their own variations of rituals associated with the various (and varying) stages of life, from birth and coming-of-age to unions and ultimately death; we have much to learn and gain by studying how the peoples of the world celebrate growth, time, nature and transition.

If we’re lucky, and really attending to these moments, we can recognize all the subtle shifts at play—in our bodies, minds and psyches—as we morph from one phase of life to another.

On the other hand, we risk creating an imbalance between these big rites of passage and the rest of our “ordinary,” day-to-day lives, masking some truths about time and experience that can help us move beyond a life of delusion and toward peace and satisfaction.

Time doesn’t stop between Great Big Events, and life has an abundance of fascinating things on offer in these in-between spaces.

Maybe we’ve gone through those highs leading up to a wedding, or even New Year’s, imagining that some mysterious forces are going to transplant us right into the life we crave. The lows that come afterward remind us that the best thing we can do for ourselves is create a situation where we don’t attach to big dates, and thrive every day.

One of the core meanings behind rites of passage and even the change of seasons is to gently coax us into deepening our connection with the universe, and with ourselves as a harmonious part of it.

What better way to do this than to honour the very magic of existence by learning to celebrate the inevitable fact of change, and beauty of where we find ourselves each day?

“There is nothing you can see that is not a flower. There is nothing you can think that is not the moon.”

~ Matsuo Basho

We are in constant interplay with the world. We are changing, growing and evolving right alongside it. There is no keeping up, or reaching some fixed, pre-established goal. We are the life, we are Basho’s moon and flower, we are the goal.

In practical terms, we want to step out of our listless daydreams (though daydreams certainly have their place), and generate awe—an “aha” that serves to remind us why it is ridiculously amazing that we are here.

We don’t need to organize a huge event to do this, or spend a cent. All we need to do is find a way to flip a switch.

Sometimes this happens spontaneously, like when we find ourselves in nature and are suddenly overwhelmed by the serenity and beauty around us. Guards drop, thoughts slip away and only the present remains. Some consider these moments to be enlightenment.

We can’t always put ourselves directly in inspiration’s way, though, and these are the times when it’s helpful to have some tools up our sleeve.

One of my favourites is what I call: The Rose-Tinted Glasses Experiment.

I was inspired to do this when I was studying cinema years ago, awestruck by how the greatest filmmakers took full advantage of the knowledge that worlds, film and otherwise, aren’t passively received—they are made—and that directors have to actively create what they want audiences to experience. Films like The Wizard of Oz and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, which I wanted dozens of times each, utterly captivated me with their unique and highly expressive views of the world.

The Rose-Tinted Glasses Experiment is so easy it almost feels like a trick, but it’s amazing how a very simple intention can so thoroughly change the way you see things.

All you have to do is go outside and take a walk—you can also do this on a bike in your car, but it’s best if you can be as distraction-free as possible.

Now pick a colour.

With this colour in mind, just hang out and do your thing, and consciously put your proverbial rose-tinted glasses on, except the glasses are in your mind, and you can choose any colour you want (rose is not everyone’s cup of tea).

Now, with your chosen colour, tune into your environment and become aware of items of this colour around you, and awaken yourself to a world filled with this colour.

The first time I did this, I chose yellow. I figured there really weren’t that many yellow things around, and I was curious what would happen.

A new world opened up before me. A part of a billboard here, someone’s umbrella there, a shirt in a display window, another ad…the world was teeming with yellow!

Then I picked red, and the same thing happened.

Moments earlier, I was in a yellow world that had now turned red. The world, of course, didn’t change at all, but I was able to use my mind to create a world of my making, because the world is simply too large and grand for our limited brains or minds to take everything in. And so we filter. We normally do this subconsciously and in predictable ways, but with this exercise, we are taking hold of the reins.

This is empowering in itself—and helps overcome feelings of lack of control—but the important part of this exercise is that we can use it to jar ourselves out of boredom and complacency and learn to attend to things all around us that otherwise remain invisible.

We often don’t realize how stuck we’ve become in our conditioned way of seeing things, and this applies to the physical world around us as well as to our responses to things like discomfort and conflict. This “rose-tinted glasses” exercise is a great way to rewire and observe that there are endless perspectives available to us, some of which can be much more helpful and liberating than others, and all of which are a great celebration of change.

Who knows what is awaiting us once we have the heart and mind to see, and make every day an ordinary-magic rite of passage?

 

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Bonus: See how they Think Pink in the classic film, Funny Face, here.

 

*Published under a different title in elephant journal, here.