Here is a Practice that I have found very helpful. It is an important Practice because it gives you the opportunity to change the meaning that past events have for you. In Seishindo we believe that we often face continuing difficulties not because of what has taken place in our lives, but because of what we believe to be true based on what has taken place. We incorrectly judge ourselves as being wrong. This Practice gives you the chance to change your perception of yourself, and your perceived shortcomings. Give this Practice a try and let us know what changes for you.
You will most likely want to read through all of the instructions at least once before actually doing this practice.
1. Sit comfortably with a notebook or journal by your side. Breathe deeply at least five or six times, inhaling and exhaling through your nose.
2. Take a moment and think of a time when you seemed to have learned something that is detrimental to your overall well being and sense of self confidence. For instance, you might have spilled your milk as a young child and had the teacher chastise you for being such “a clumsy child” and ever since then you seem to have the tendency to try and prove that your teacher was right.
3. Write down a short description of your chosen event in your notebook, and also write down a succinct phrase that encapsulates what you seem to have learned. For instance; “I am clumsy.” Then place the notebook aside.
4. Become present to yourself sitting in your chair, and begin to pay attention to your posture and your overall feeling. Now, give your primary awareness to the experience of your inhaling and exhaling. Take at least one full minute to do this.
5. Once you feel attuned with your breathing, once again recall the event in whatever way is natural for you.
6. As you sit there in the presence of both your breathing process and the event you are working with, begin to imagine at least three new things that you can now learn from the event you are recalling. Please remember that you are wanting to learn three new things that help you to generate and maintain a positive sense of self worth and well-being. Anything less than this would be less than “the truth.” The idea here is not to gloss over your shortcomings, but rather to appreciate yourself while at the same time noticing what could be improved or changed.
So, in the case of the spilled milk, if your teacher had stressed the importance of keeping one¹s full attention on a challenging task, you might have learned this important truth, without coming to falsely believe that you are a clumsy child.
Continue to give your primary attention to your breathing, and allow ideas to somehow bubble up, rather than actively trying to create new ideas. When you have come up with at least three new learnings, write down your new, and self-supportive learnings in your notebook.
7. Place your notebook aside and go back to paying attention to your posture and your overall feeling as you sit in your chair. Now, again, give your primary awareness to the experience of your inhaling and exhaling. Take at least one full minute to do this.
8. As you breathe, once again recall the event in whatever way is natural for you.
As you sit there, in the presence of both your breathing process and the event, begin to slowly and purposefully state your three new learnings to yourself.
For instance, in the case of the spilled milk. 1. Stay focused on the task at hand. 2. Breathe, move, and breathe, to stay relaxed. 3. Do important tasks one at a time.
Make your own statements now.
After making each individual statement of what you have learned, breathe fully for at least two rounds before stating your next learning. (If your circumstances allow, speaking your new learnings out loud is usually best.)
9. Repeat each learning at least three times, either randomly or in a particular order. If you feel moved to you can also add new learning statements to the initial three that you wrote down.
10. When you feel done, write down anything else that pops into your mind, and also write a brief description of how you feel. Sometimes this last step can be of surprising importance, because you can learn something important simply by taking part in this process.
Keep your new learnings in mind and use them as a mantra from time to time. For instance, if you have tended to feel clumsy, you can repeat your mantras to yourself just before performing in front of others. Doing this will help you to embody your learning. No matter what, go through this whole process again a week or so from now, and see what has changed for you.
If for some reason this practice proves a bit more difficult than you were planning on, you can try again later. Sometimes when we are in the process of learning something new, we might find that what we have learned in the past is somewhat hard to let go of.