Angus and I facilitated a corporate training recently and the target audience was millennials. We were a curious pick as we are old enough to be their parents and maybe even their grandparents in some cases.
Fortunately, what we shared with them is timeless.
As we prepared for the training, I noticed age labels cropping up in my awareness. I reflected on how we are all born free of any label and how that experience of freedom is available when we are simply being rather than defined by a concept. That freedom is what we are all seeking — freedom from the labels we accumulate over a lifetime.
However, many of us don’t recognize the source of suffering is the labels themselves. Sometimes a label is so familiar it is completely invisible to us and we don’t even realize we are limiting ourselves with it. And when we are aware of labels, we often don’t think to look beyond them and instead spend time and energy trying to improve the labels rather than seeing them as made-up concepts that do not define who we are.
For example, I bought into the label of insecure. Rather than seeing that as an experience that comes and goes. It became a label that I identified with. I defined myself as insecure: I am insecure. And with that definition came a lot of suffering. Rather than seeing the self-imposed label as a problem. I instead gave it more meaning. I decided the label meant I wasn’t good enough: I am unworthy. So then I tried to change the label. It tried to turn my label of insecurity into one of self-confidence. But my trying to change the label only made it look more real. It is impossible to change a delusion by trying to improve it. The only way to escape a delusion is to wake up from it and see it as a delusion.
If I am in the nightmare of an anxiety dream finding myself naked in public. It is much easier to simply wake up from the dream than to stay in the dream desperately searching for clothes that are impossible to find or that magically disappear as soon as I put them on.
The way I sought to escape the suffering of my label of insecure and now the additional label of unworthy was to prove my worthiness. My logic was that if I could prove I was worthy then I wouldn’t be insecure. So I tried very hard to prove my worthiness by being good, by not upsetting anyone, by being the best at what I did etc… You can imagine how exhausting this was. I now had this ideal version of me in my mind that was my holy grail. When I am that then I will be good enough. Of course, through all my attempts at self-improvement, my imperfections became magnified. I became woefully aware of how I wasn’t measuring up in a consistent way, AND the ideal version on me kept changing. If I did happen to achieve some aspect of the ideal me, the ideal me would up-level. There was always a better version of me to live up to.
It wasn’t until I saw that my experience of feeling insecure and unworthy was not the problem. The instant I was no longer bewitched by these labels and realized I was just having an experience that didn’t mean anything I fell into an experience of who I am beyond my labels. At the time I didn’t know what was happening to me. I just knew I felt a peace inside of me I had not experienced before. My mind was quiet. I felt a depth of joy that was unconnected with anything outside of me and I didn’t need anything.
This is what I had been looking for in all my striving for self-improvement. I had not really been looking for self-confidence and worthiness. I had been looking for an impersonal experience. And that experience of being nobody and no thing felt AMAZING.
I had not known that was what I was looking for, and I certainly didn’t know what was getting in the way of it.
The obvious question is how did that happen? How did I have an experience of being beyond my labels? By identifying the how, then the formula for how to get there would be revealed. All I can say is it was grace. For whatever reason when Linda Pransky told me that my feeling insecure was normal and that it was me trying to change my experience that was causing my suffering, I heard what she said on a very deep level. And the labels fell away. I was no longer insecure Rohini trying to be good enough. I was no one engulfed in an experience of love that had me not want to be anyone.
I was unlabeled and free.
And then about a week or so later my mind wasn’t as quiet. I wasn’t living in this feeling of bliss constantly. But I knew what it felt like to be free, and I knew that it was my own judgments that got in the way of that experience. I was no longer on the improving labels bandwagon.
And it is just today that I saw more clearly that in the experience I had there were no labels. I was experiencing bliss, but I was not the usual me. I was just experiencing. And then the experience of me came back, but in a freer way. I hold the labels more lightly. I see the cracks in my sense of me and know that is just a label among others even if it feels real.
Some have criticized me for employing personal pronouns. Some do not like that I speak about thoughts and feelings as if they are real. And in the greater freedom, my current “me” experiences I know it does not matter. I am not my labels, and I am also not enlightened. My personal mind can never know the impersonal, but I do know the feeling of unconditional love. I do have a reference point for freedom and kindness. I am not rigorous with my language because it isn’t adequate any way so why bother? Know that whatever I say is imperfect and more importantly look within to your own experience of being unlabeled? How does that feel? Who are you when you are untamed by definitions and free?
Whatever I say or do, no matter how unenlightened my humanness is, my intention is to point you in the direction of who you are beyond your labels. Forget about how imperfectly I do it. I am no longer in the self-improvement game and you can leave that game too. Forget about me and how I show up and you and how you show up. You are good enough exactly as you are. Look to where I am pointing. Look within and see who you are. There is no improvement required. Forget about what others say about you. Forget about what your own thoughts say. Lean into the feeling of unconditional love. Feel into who you are. Let the feeling of your okayness and wellbeing draw you in. It is a feeling of love and peace that you can trust. It is familiar because it is who you are. That is all that matters. Drop the struggle and go there.
If you are ready, it won’t actually matter how I say it or how anyone else points you. You will fall into your Self. This can be an experience of dropping into an ocean of love and mercy or just a simple the feeling of being okay. It doesn’t matter what the intensity of the experience is. Only the ego measures that. They are both the same. Any time you drop out of your personal mind no matter how brief or how profound, recognize it for what it is — you are coming home to your Self.
Let go of any preconceived notions of what this looks and feels like. Just remember who you are, who you have always been, and who you will always be — wild, free and untamed.
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their full potential. She is a transformative coach, leadership consultant, a regular blogger for Thrive Global, and author of the short-read Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1) available on Amazon. You can get her free eBook Relationships here. Rohini has an international coaching and consulting practice based in Los Angeles helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. She is also the founder of The Soul-Centered Series: Psychology, Spirituality, and the Teachings of Sydney Banks. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and watch her Vlogs with her husband. To learn more about her work go to her website, rohiniross.com.