Stop trying to fill a gap that isn’t there. You are unimaginably perfect and whole exactly as you are. By Dylan Ayaloo
Sometimes it can feel like no matter what we do in life, there’s something missing inside. The more you try to fill it (with pretty much anything), the more it can feel like there’s still something missing; like you’re missing a trick and more needs to be done, or is demanded of you. Yet somehow you never quite work it out and keep chasing to try and fill that illusory missing feeling.
It’s the human condition that our minds are run by what I call ‘stories’. The mind is a story-making machine, and in order to make sense of this vast, magnificent, chaotic thing called life, our minds make up stories – and we live our lives as though these stories are true. Many times, these stories are also a protection mechanism. One of the most disempowering stories we can tell ourselves is the story of “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not enough” (and the many other flavours of this story).
This story can feel like a doughnut, where there’s a hole in the middle of our being and there’s just a missing feeling within.
Most of us spend our entire lives having this feeling of something missing within and ‘trying to fill the doughnut’, as I say in our programmes. No matter what you try to fill it with, be it partying, drugs, alcohol, sex, pleasing others, chasing success, material possessions, money, seeking that partner that will fulfil us (before knowing how to fulfil ourselves first)…you name it, we have a plethora of strategies to ‘fill the doughnut’. Unfortunately, nothing seems to work.
“You see: I’m not good enough, can never feel good enough,” I noted to one my programme participants during a recent training. We were exploring the depth of the workings of the mind during a yoga philosophy session and the topic came up. The doughnut cannot fill itself. “The problem is not that you’re not good enough, the problem it is that you believe that you’re not good enough”. What you believe becomes true. In life, what we focus on and move towards consistently, manifests itself to be true. This is true for beliefs that are empowering as well as disempowering.
A belief like “I’m not good enough” can send a person chasing their own tail for their entire life; that’s because it’s not true – so we’re trying to fix this as if it’s a real and genuine problem. What Patanjali teaches in the Yoga Sutra’s is that beliefs like these are the ‘mind stuff’, as noted in Sutra 2 Chapter 1: “Yoga’s Chitta Vritti Nirodhah”. What this means is that it’s what the mind makes up as if it’s true – and the problem is that we believe it, so it becomes true.
In this Sutra, Patanjali also mentions the cessation of the fluctuations of the ‘mind stuff’ – in other words, just like in meditation where we distance ourselves from thought and become the observer of a thought. Meditation can be practiced through the day, meaning if a thought such as “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not loved” pops into the mind, it is possible to step back and to observe it for what it is – that it is simply a thought and nothing more than that.
Find your truth
If there is a solution to the doughnut dilemma, it is to focus on the truth; the truth of the moment, or the truth of who you are. What may be true in the moment could be something such as your breath and body connection through sensations. This, too, can be a meditation. Focus on your breath and get some distance or perspective if this thought that pops up in the mind is in fact true or not. Stay connected to the breath and the body sensation and it will help keep some perspective on thoughts, so you can consciously choose which ones you focus on or what meaning you give to a situation.
Another option may be to feel the truth of who you are when you breathe into your heart. A simple way to do this is to put your hand on your heart and breathe into it. Perhaps when you practice this you will know with clarity and certainty in your heart that the words “I’m not good enough” (and other similar thoughts) are far from the truth of who you truly are. Perhaps you can come into contact with the real truth – that you are enough, that you are loved, that you are never alone, that you are love.
In my opinion these are some interpretations of the teachings within yoga philosophy, and within all spiritual texts. The word ‘yoga’ means union or non-separation; to become one with the truth of who we are, and not become distracted with the ‘mind stuff’ or our other negative thoughts, like “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not loved”. The truth is there was no doughnut in the first place and no gap to fill. So don’t let your mind send you chasing your own tail, getting distracted with what’s not true. Focus on the truth and it will set you free.
Dylan Ayaloo leads world-class yoga teacher training programmes and a life-transforming three-day programme called Awaken. Find out more at dylanayaloo.com