I love looking at the natural phenomenon of the creation of a pearl as a metaphor for living life admirably.
A pearl is developed as a reaction to an irritant (like a grain of sand, which can be sharp as a shard of glass) in a mollusk, usually a mussel or an oyster. To seal off the irritation, the mollusk coats it with layers of smooth calcium carbonate, thereby forming the pearl. For centuries, humans have regarded the pearl as a thing of beauty, and to this day pearls are coveted jewelry.
Are you coating the aggravations of your world with something smooth until you create a thing of beauty? Perhaps yes. Perhaps no. This is an opportunity for many of us to grow. The times lately that I've spoken about this in my yoga classes, many of those listening smile. Few argue the wisdom of this idea. But many ask, "How?"
Therein lies the challenge. I’ve started implementing a few guidelines in my own life, in the hopes of learning to use my pain as a catalyst to create a thing of beauty.
1. Recognize that we're all connected.
We are not separate creatures on this plane. We are at once completely different than and similar to the person we’re standing next to or even with whom we share a bed. We all have passions and fears and regrets and joys and sorrows and dreams. When you perceive something that annoys you, it's critical to understand that you likely embody some aspect of that nuisance. The problem is that you haven't made peace with that part of self.
What if the next time you were in a situation where something or someone was bugging you to pieces, you stopped, took a deep breath and decided to ladle yourself with compassion, rather than responding with a snarky comment? Perhaps then you could extend the same grace to that which was nagging you as well.
2. Understand that what you focus on is a choice, so choose wisely.
Are you focusing on lack or abundance? Joy or pain? Kindness or sorrow? We all have bits of each in our world. According to Pamela Grout's recent book, E-Squared, there's a gumdrop-sized group of cells at the base of the brain stem called the reticular activating system (RAS). This is a control center whose job is to sort and evaluate incoming data. It sends what it thinks is urgent to the active part of the brain and steers the non-urgent stuff to the back. But as it’s organizing, it’s also busy interpreting, drawing conclusions and filtering out anything that doesn’t mesh with what we believe.
“In other words, we rehearse ahead of time the world we want to see.” Grout is using this as part of her argument that our thoughts create our reality and we are all in control of our day to day lives. I’m using it in an effort to illustrate that if you focus on the good things, that is what you will see more of; and if you focus on the negative, that is what you will manifest. It’s simple. Choose what you focus on wisely.
3. Revisit your beliefs often.
The only thing permanent in this world is change. Check in on your beliefs from time to time. Try not to get stuck to one particular thing too closely. It helps to implement a doctrine of vigilant honesty. Meditation is key to this level of accountability, as are good boundaries. Remember that a belief is only something we tell ourselves over and over again, thereby making it true. Maintain a steady connection to your convictions. They can spiral out of control quickly. You might recognize that some aren’t serving you any more and as such, they can be revised. It’s always good to turn to inner guidance for the keys. That’s where meditation comes in.
I hope these serve you and lead you to your most admirable self.