“The spiritual life is like rowing a canoe away from a waterfall, if you stop rowing you are pulled backward.”
I love this quote Russel Brand shares in his book, Recovery.
I keep the image of myself rowing away from a waterfall in my mind constantly. You can apply this concept to anything, not only living a spiritual life. For me right now, the consistent “rowing” means living my most authentic life. The second I lose the connection to my authentic self and start doing things that aren’t true for me, or rowing, I can feel myself getting pulled backwards toward the violent bottom of the waterfall. In my case, this waterfall symbolizes the disconnected version of myself I want to stay away from.
Living a life that’s true for me requires awareness and consistent mindfulness. I can’t decide to live a mindful life one day, then the next day do something that feels totally untrue for me or who I am striving to be. It is consistent effort, consistent rowing.
I came up with a new formula to help people identify what state of mind they’re in when it comes to living a conscious and connected life. It helps me immensely and I hope it does the same for you.
Either I am or I ain’t.
I am or…
The definition of ignorance is “lack of knowledge or information.” So when someone is in the ignorance state of mind, they basically don’t know what they don’t know.
For me, I was living in ignorance for the first 24-ish years of my life. I was doing just fine but in terms of finding my authenticity and really prioritizing my relationship with myself, I was operating with a lack of knowledge and information. I knew how to function in society and I knew what was expected of me, but I had minimal connection to what I wanted in life, what I liked and what I didn’t like. I was on auto-pilot, externally focused and not at all in touch with myself or others on a deep level. I accepted everything I had been programmed to know and feel, and regurgitated that without consideration or thoughtfulness(both good and bad regurgitation).
I feel like a lot of people might fall into this state of ignorance which isn’t really your doing more than it is the conditioning you’ve received from society and your environment.
A few signs you may be in the state of ignorance:
You generally feel unfulfilled or empty
You haven’t pursued much self-inventory
You wonder if there’s something more out there for you
You don’t agree with everything you’ve been told and shown
At some point in life we all fall into this state of mind. It’s okay and honestly necessary to truly appreciate the next two states of being: awareness and movement.
The definition of awareness is “knowledge of a situation.” The situation in this model is the conscious relationship you have with your inner world, and therefore your outer world.
For me, shifting out of ignorance and into awareness meant going where I’d never gone before. Doing things I’d never done. Listening to the voice that was whispering/screaming “there is more.”
Without knowing it at the time, I was shifting out of my state of ignorance and into awareness when I started seeing a therapist who helped me reflect on my life experience so far. I started reading which was something I never really did before. I started doing more things that were outside of my norm. I started to consider what I genuinely enjoy, and what I don’t enjoy at all. It was so liberating to become aware and conscious in my own life. Instead of staying on auto-pilot and doing what I had been shown in life or doing what the societal norm was, I intentionally started paying attention. It was like I was stepping into my own body and my own life.
A few signs you’re in the state of awareness:
You’re open to learning more about yourself
You’re open to the fact that you don’t know it all
You’re open to exploring beyond what you’ve been shown and told in life so far
You prioritize the relationship you have with yourself as much as you do your other relationships
You genuinely feel the benefit of all of the above
The third state of mind is movement. So you stepped out of ignorance and stepped into awareness. You’ve gathered information, you’ve experienced new things, you’ve opened your mind and heart, you’ve become more conscious. So with all of this newly found information, it’s time for movement. This is where you make shit happen! I view awareness as internal work and movement as external work - making the changes, decisions and actions that help you step into alignment in your life.
This is the route you don’t want to get stuck in. If you’re in the intentional victim state of mind, you’ve grown from ignorance to awareness (Hell yes! Good job!) - but instead of taking all that new found awareness and heading into movement, you fall into being the intentional victim.
Intentional = done on purpose
Victim = sufferer
The reason I can so clearly map out this journey is because I can tell exactly when I fall into intentional victim mode. I’ll tell you what it looks like for me:
I wait for someone or something beyond myself to change so I can change. Why is no one else on this same self-awareness journey as me? Everyone else is the issue, I have done my part.
This is a shitty place to be and in my experience, the longer you unpack your bags and stay in Intentional Victimville, the harder it is to leave.
What I try to do is minimize the time between awareness and movement (staying in that I AM state of mind).
I gain nothing by playing the victim. Each day I spend feeling sorry for myself, remaining paralyzed and stagnant, or waiting for other people or circumstances to change is another calendar page flipped and my canoe is pulled closer and closer to the violent bottom of that waterfall.
With this formula, I can clearly recognize which state of mind I’m in at any given time. The transition from ignorance, to awareness, to the intentional victim, to movement is not linear. I jump in and out of each of these states of mind constantly. But knowing that my ultimate goal is to gravitate to the states of awareness and movement gives me great clarity and hope.
This was a long post so if you’re still here, please know I appreciate you big time! I hope this resonates with you.