One of the coolest, most gratifying experiences I have as a therapist is to witness people change. I mean that literally, even: I’ve noticed people breathe differently over weeks or months, the breath quieting, softening, deepening with the growing Self.
Faces open up, shoulders straighten… the entire way a person carries themself changes.
This is beautiful, and I’m grateful to be a witness. Given space, time and support, people tend to find their authentic truth, their strength, their own personal awesome…
There is this psychological concept of “Character Armor”; this is just a fancier way to talk about having a mask. We develop masks for good reasons, almost always as a matter of safety, learning to create the “Mask of Self” that we need to serve in the moment. The problem comes when we so often over-identify with the mask.
This manufactured and controlled Mask of Self will be different from the True Self. That disconnect alone is enough to cause a whole cloud of existential unhappiness. Factor in the stressors and daily traumas we sometimes go through and things get worse.
Our culture plays on this mask-making impulse. We are forever being told that if only we were different - younger, skinnier, better hair, fresher breath, different beliefs, whatever – we would more successfully fit into the world.
And the more struggles and trauma the world has thrown our way, the more we may have worked at polishing the mask, to keep ourselves safe. Only then to find it hasn’t worked…!
So we need to be in touch with our own very individual sense of the awesome, to be so genuinely in love with the true beauty of our lives – perhaps especially in our struggles - that the authenticity of our own true voice is the thing that is the most real to us. Masks (and the pressures that create them) will no longer hold us in their thrall…
With any luck (and some work), we can each find a different way to make our world an awesome place to be in.
We may get lost along the way, putting on our armours for safety and confusing the masks for mirrors – but there is, I believe, an innate human impulse toward the True Self that is always there to guide the way.
Maybe this is part of why the Breath is so important… In finding our quiet breath, our embodied breath, we give our True Self - like a heartbeat - a chance to be heard...
This is the starting point…
“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself”. Henry Miller