My own picture on a walk in my neighbourhood the other day.
It’s difficult to feel comfortable with ourselves, body and mind, in our current climate of media driven images of what we should be, how we should look, what we should like, etc. I’m going to go ahead and assume that even though it is wide-spread now because of television, radio, and internet, it’s always been so, especially in large settlements, cities, etc.
What I’m really getting at is that it’s hard for us to just accept who we are, what we look like, how we compare to others, and the like. So really, our heads are filled with this constant, automatic stream of criticism over every little thing you say or do. This can be an incredible mountain of an obstacle to overcome when you need to focus on your path’s practice. While we are all mostly capable of amassing information, when it comes to the practicing part, the rituals, the raising of energy, the releasing of energy, calling the Gods to be with you, calling spirits and entities to be with you… well, it just gets in the way and makes for a practice that is very unfocused, and very unclear.
I feel I have been quite fortunate to not have been one of those who is incredibly concerned 24/7 with all the things I should be saying and doing. My mama raised my sis, brother and I to be fairly confident in ourselves (not full of our own hubris, however 😉 ), to be able to recognize our strengths and weaknesses, and be honest about them, at least with ourselves. I feel as I’ve left my teen years behind, I feel more and more comfortable around people, talking to those I don’t know, just being able to enjoy myself in the face of others’ snickers and such.
I heard from a friend at school (as I’m not in this semester), that in our Music History class, there was a girl who judged us for laughing all the time at our teachers’ teacher jokes. My friend is the same age as I am, plus a few months. We don’t care that it “isn’t cool” to laugh at the lame jokes; in fact, I was laughing and enjoying myself despite others’ judging since high school. I was shy as a young girl, but after getting to know you, I felt pretty comfortable in myself. I feel happy that I am not bound by this nagging in my head of having to look “cool”. All those other people just look miserable all the time trying to conform… it’s boring… it’s sad… it suppresses who you are… it takes the joy out of interactions with others.
But back to the spiritual bit, it’s hard enough trying to free your mind *geeky Matrix reference FTW!* while holding ritual for yourself and truly experiencing your craft, your path; but if you’re in a coven with, Elysian fields forbid, other people, it’s nigh impossible to turn off the criticism because you’ll be constantly correcting yourself for mistakes you think the others think you’ve made. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. First of all, no matter how much you may think everyone’s eyes are always on you, they’re not. What you may feel is the hugest, most embarrassing mistake during circle (or whenever), usually is a small trifle that others might notice, but won’t take heavily as they are building up the energy in circle (and as we all should know, what happens in circle is meant to happen).
Secondly, if you continue this constant criticism, you are just cutting yourself off from creating a deep connection to the Divine, to the deities you worship, to the magic you make, to the rituals you hold. If your mind is constantly running on this criticism and correction, then you have no room left to focus on the spiritual path you are trying to work on.
Thirdly, because your mind is so heavy on the criticism, there’s nothing you can do but criticize others. Every seeming mistake they make, every odd thing they say, you catch it, you hold on to it, and you can’t move past it because you think you could do better, or you think of how you would react if you were them, or you… The point is you continue to think on the thing that is not supposed to be thought about.
I challenge those of you who do find themselves burdened by this to use meditative practice with these thoughts: when you find them in your head, let them float away. Stop over-analyzing every interaction you have, every move you make. When you feel like others are judging you, well, they very well may be, but it isn’t the focus of their life, and if they don’t know you, then who cares? There’s way too many people in the world to care about and try to please every single one. Choose the people who you love, or enjoy the company of in your life, and choose your actions and words wisely with them, they’re the people that should see the very best in us because we choose to cultivate that relationship, because they make us aspire to be better people, because they have reciprocated our love in return. This holds true for our relationships with the Gods. If we give them our very best, in a joyful, honest, and criticism free way, they will reciprocate our love, our adoration, our wishes.
Be yourself, enjoy who you are, enjoy the company of others freely. Love all that is within you, the light and dark, work on what you want to work on within and without, balance your body, mind, and spirit; for in balance, we can achieve greater things for ourselves, for the Gods, and for love of all.