A human being is a part of the whole called by us, the "Universe" -- a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Decades later and Albert Einstein's words still hold much value and truth.
We are not separate from the whole. This is the understanding I came to after living a life on the opposite end of the spectrum.
When I studied adolescent development in graduate school, I was particularly fascinated with the theory of egocentrism and the concept of personal fables: As teenagers, we hold the belief that we are unique and special, separate from the rest. We desire to be the center of attention, and believe that nobody could ever understand our personal experiences.
Thinking back to my younger years, I felt like nobody understood me. The theory relates to adolescents specifically, but I wonder if it could be applied to one's entire lifespan, depending on a person's development. It's only been in the last two years that I have let go of my personal fable and have come to integrate and embody the depth of Einstein's words.
So why is this important?
I travelled to India, embarking on a journey of transformation and when I returned I was living by Einstein's words: seeing the energy everywhere I went, experiencing the intricate connections that exist in everything, viewing life as one giant web, each moment interwoven into the next.
However, I was undermining a very important reality... One's individual journey.
I came back to North America to a loved one who had fallen ill and decided that, with all the tools I had acquired while away, it was my responsibility to heal this person. I had learned so much about health and healing during my travels and felt like I held the key to her recovery.
How many of you have experienced that moment when you're suddenly filled with hope, believing that you've discovered the missing link to another's liberation?
When I was away I faced my own health issues and came to appreciate the importance of treating the body like a temple so that it is able to heal.
How we nourish ourselves in terms of what we consume and the kind of attention we give our bodies has a huge impact on our health. Self-love is essential in this equation.
And when I realized this, I was determined to transmit this "knowing" and "awaken" all those around me, adhering to Einstein's notion that we are not separate from the whole.
But here's the thing I was undermining: While there is truth in the fact that we are all one, it's not our job to make others see what we see and do what we do.
Every person is here to experience his or her own journey and all we can do is commit to our own path, take the necessary steps to stay on course, lend a helping hand to those who desire support and love and accept those who don't.
I know that staying away from processed foods, refined sugars, and GMOs is critical when it comes to treating my body well; I know that exercising from a loving place and consciously moving my body on a regular basis is fundamental to my health; I know that meditating daily supports my mental clarity and stability; I know that drinking tons of water and getting good sleep impacts my vitality; And I now know that it's not my role to impose these truths on others who are not willing to receive them.
You know what I'm talking about, don't you?
Disease occurs when energy is blocked inside the body and what we consume in the process has massive impact on our ability to release those blockages. I have read a plethora of research papers on the importance of nutrition, exercise and a loving mindset when it comes to healing the body. I have watched my own health transform based on these facts. And yet, I cannot enforce these lessons. All I can do is live by them.
This created a lot of personal pain and frustration at one point -- I had to give up the role of savior, even with those I love most in this world.
Many of us grow up attached to this identity (e.g., the savior, the giver, the martyr, the helper, etc.), especially women. We are conditioned to believe that it is our obligation to heal/save/fix/change the people we love in this world. But it's not.
While giving up this identity was painful, it has also been one of the greatest lessons I've learned.
It's not up to us to light another person's flame; we must ignite our own flame while loving those around us, as they are, and know that the flame may catch at some point... or it may not.
The butterfly effect is something to consider, especially in relation to Einstein's words: A small change made in this complex system of life can have huge consequences elsewhere... But it is not our role to ensure that happens. Instead, we must trust in the unfolding and continue living our own truth.
Again, we may think we have the solutions for others' pain. We may be convinced that if she stopped comparing herself to others and had more love and appreciation for her body in this moment or he was willing to see the mind-body connection and work through the emotional hurt in order to heal the physical pain than everything would be different.
While these things may be accurate, there's a fine line between knowing something to be true and inflicting it onto those who are not ready to receive it.
Thus, after spending countless months trying to make other people see what I see and do what I do and witnessing more damage come from this process than good, I have chosen to surrender and trust in the butterfly effect.
I choose to embody what I preach, instead of merely talking the talk and expecting others to follow; I choose to infuse love into everything I do, whether it's the food I eat, the activities I engage in, or the stillness I come to; I choose to lend a helping hand to anybody who crosses my path and desires support; And when I fall into an old pattern of neglect, self-hatred, comparison, or lack of presence, I choose to see it and I bring compassion into the equation.
We are human beings -- accepting that this is an ongoing journey of growth is part of the process.
So what can we do when it comes to helping those we love?
We can live by what we speak. We can love and honor our bodies every moment of the day. We can help those who want support, while trusting that they have all the inner resources needed. We can light our own fires and allow them to burn brightly. We can be the change. And we can trust that everyone is doing the best they can.
And it's still a work in progress, as Rumi states, "Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."