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Life can have us running around in circles, ever in the search for truth, clarity and purpose. From our earliest of days and years, foundations are laid that push us, our minds and our bodies in certain trajectories. How much of that time do we devote to pausing, deep breaths and contemplation?

In a world that largely favors productivity, we’ve been lost for generations in the endless pursuit of material things, achievement and competition. In every arena—be it commerce, government, education, military and the religions—it is more about measurement and metrics than anything else.

Naturally, the social, mainstream and entertainment media reflect all the same themes, over and over again; heroes, self-sacrifice, power struggle, violence and love, love and violence, brutality and gore, political agendas, propaganda, and the glorification of sociopathy and psychopathy. These ideas reinforce distortions, desensitize and make “normal” that which is darkest about the human experience.

Of course, it exists. Of course, we are capable of untold horrors. But these are extremes, and only part of the vast spectrum. We’re led to believe that this life, this reality, only consists of polarity; it only has us as good or evil—and almost always, we must have to suffer, and to struggle, and to overcome, to maybe attain a goodness, and a deserved virtue and honor.

This is a very destructive, constricting belief system. Good is not a ceiling. What about enlightenment, awakening, transcendence and love? What about collective evolution and elevated consciousness?

All things considered, the more we are required to accommodate societal and cultural distortions, the more difficult it becomes to discover and embody a true acceptance of self. The more we identify with—or feel required to identify with—labels, titles, honorifics and status denominators, the less we’re inclined or liberated to simply be freely who we are, moment to moment.

You’ll hear the common expressions such as “follow your bliss” and “pursue your passion”, yet these, like many spiritual teachings, are misconstrued and misinterpreted. Consider your environment, and you’ll know why you feel resistance and inner conflict around these overused expressions… or why you feel guilt and shame for not being “true to your self” and other weighty notions.

Do you meditate to be able to tolerate daily life, or to transcend mind, and the pain body? Do you do yoga to push and stretch and extend your body—to have an escape from calamity—or to know your infinity in motion?

True acceptance and love of self must begin in the space before identity, underneath the carefully considered construct of personality, in the arena of being before doing.

I would wish that you didn’t need to experience fear and violence, as if it were some prerequisite for being human. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us have, or will have to. This, to me, must be by choice, on some level. So, let its realization be for you a source of empowerment, and claim your responsibility.

Become aware of when you may be simply in a state of spiritual bypassing. Go deeper, and you’ll find authentic acceptance isn’t as far away as it may seem.

Solvitur ambulando