What it is about seeing a loving act on the part of one person, towards another, that moves us to tears? Or, when we hear about someone acting in a heroic way to help or save others from injury or death, why it is that we become choked up?

How many of us are moved when we view or hear about someone’s act of generosity—such as aiding a homeless person with getting food or shelter, or providing food, shoes and warm coats to a mother whose children are going without in the dead of winter?

What’s going on within us that brings us to that point of response?

Well, seeing acts of compassion and human kindness puts us in touch with our core, our very essence. And that connection with ourselves is precious and deeply moving to experience.

The voice of our inner critic

Man studying artWe also have the voice of our inner critic that we hear trumpeting all kinds of criticisms about who we are and what we’re not doing that we should be doing. This voice engenders fears about the future and keeps us stirred up about hurtful things from our past.

So often, our lives are governed by this inner critical voice. Initially, we even develop our sense of identity from this negative inner voice. Our reactive thinking defines our sense of self.

As we grow up, we attempt to make sense of what’s going on around us in regard to people and events. As little people, we have a limited amount of cognitive, verbal and emotional development at our fingertips that we can use to understand what’s taking place in our world of actions and behaviour on the part of others.

Our conclusions about our reactive thoughts are our best attempts to make sense of things. In truth, these conclusions and the narrative we create are off the mark, and we arrive at inaccurate conclusions about our role in relation to others’ behaviour.

How many children feel responsible for Mommy and Daddy being angry? How many children take responsibility for their parents deciding to divorce one another?

We are also awareness

Woman with mist around headIn addition to being compassionate and lovingly kind, we’re also awareness itself. Who we are is not our thoughts. Who we are is the witnessing observer of our thoughts and feelings.

Adyashanti writes,

Awareness is that part of us that perceives, observes and witnesses our thoughts, feelings, behaviours and body. It can be quite transformative to realize that you are not what you thought you were, that you are not your feelings, that you are not your beliefs, that you are not your personality, that you are not your ego. You are something other than that, something that resides on the inside, at the innermost core of your being. For the moment, we are calling that something awareness itself.

When our awareness is in the present moment, we’re in touch with who we really are, with our very essence. When we observe someone expressing that essence, we’re moved to tears because of how precious it is for human beings to be connected with that essence.

Something else that Adyashanti has written is, “Suffering occurs when we believe in a thought that is at odds with what is, what was or what will be.”

So how do we move from living with our reactive thoughts, inaccurate narrative and the suffering that results to being in touch with who we are in essence?

2 steps to getting in touch with our essence

First, we need to bring our awareness to what’s going on within us. We need to simply take a five-minute pause in the morning, afternoon and evening, and recognize what’s going on with our thoughts. We must identify what we’re feeling, where any tension resides in our bodies and what our inner conversation is all about.

The second step is to acknowledge what we find. Being able to acknowledge what’s happening takes the negative energy out of what’s going on inside us.

Taking these first two steps can lead us to make connections between our inner life and the way we’ve reacted to people and life’s events.

Water over a waterfall

woman looking at waterfallBy realizing that we’re the witnessing observer of our thoughts, and watching our reactive thoughts as we’d watch water going over a waterfall, we can free ourselves from our inner critic and begin to act from our essence.

In listening to our inner voice, our essence, we’ll be moved to express—in words and deeds—who we really are as people. We’ll carry our awareness with us and be able to express our compassion and kindness in our everyday lives, towards others and ourselves.

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