Ideals vs. Values: Living Our Values

It has long been part of my daily practice to find ways to heal myself.  I get up every morning and take a few moments to check in with my inner self to feel how things are going “down there”.  From engaging in this process over time, I have become adept at self assessment.  Even though I don’t always know “what” I’m feeling, I know when things feel good or bad, sad or happy, even if I won’t consciously admit the specifics to myself.  While this lack of admission is a safety valve to keep me from going crazy over what I’m not yet equipped to resolve, it does tend to obscure my deeper issues from my conscious mind.  I’m aware of this Catch 22 process, and wait for little openings to make change.  That happened this morning.

One of the things I have found most helpful in healing myself is paying attention, not only to the action of what is or is not going on in my own inner or outer life, but to signs and symbols that are presented to me.  Words are often signposts for me and I have learned to listen to what people say, recognizing that what they utter or write may be coming from a much higher source without them realizing it.  That happened for me last night.

We were surprised with the return of someone to our Meditation Circle that we had not seen for 8 months.  A prolonged illness and life in general had kept this visitor from coming to The Mesa.  Something finally pushed him to return.  After enjoying our guided meditation accompanied by crystal singing bowls, he spoke about recognizing the value of meditation for him and the need to get back to it.

What caught my attention was what he said next about the difference between our ideals and values.  This was something to the effect of our ideals being what we think about and hold aloft, but our values being evidenced by what we actually make time to engage in.  They are evidentiary of willingness and flow of energy.  This was relative to what we’d call “walking our talk” and whether or not the two matched up.

The implication was that the proof was indeed in the pudding.  These words were a huge red flag for me to look at what I held as ideals versus what I brought myself to enact and why.  I saw the need to use some muscle testing (Kinesiology) to bypass my egoic mind and ask my inner self some questions about my values.  What were they really compared to my ideals, I wondered?  Was I enacting them, or just thinking about doing so?  When I got home I took a little time to examine my values and was not surprised by what I found.

I asked myself two simple questions about several of them:  “Do you value _________?” and “Are you living _________?”  I asked about things like; love, art, compassion, truth, prayer, meditation, friendship, generosity, exercising, going out in Nature, etc.  With no real surprise, I got YESES for these things being valuable to me, but NO’s for living them out.

I recognized that I did think constantly about ideals—my vision for a better life and better world ever present in my mind, but that I didn’t always do anything about them.  Mostly it was a matter of engagement, of letting out the clutch and moving forward.  It was also clear that my level of engagement had been dropping over time, especially with things like making art, exercising, and spending time outdoors.  Some people might call this reduced engagement a sign of being overworked or of aging.  I recognized it as symptomatic of emotional lockdown.  I needed to watch for the key.

When I got up this morning I knew other things were working on me as well, including the still active Creational energies of the Venus Transit of 6/5/12 and some recent Guided Head Movement healings about the fallacy of “emotional dying” and being a better man than succumbing to “Screw it!”—to giving up in exasperation, both foreshadowing of what was coming down about living my values.  (Ask us about those when you see us…)

Still, I was baffled over what was keeping me from living out what I valued in my mind, of putting effort into it.  Why didn’t I?  Kate and I discussed the situation with calm detachment over coffee during our regular morning “meeting” in the living room, but when we moved on to her recounting a conversation she had the night before with another Mesa visitor, it triggered a massive sad reaction inside of me.

It was really innocuous in the overall scheme of things.  Funny how that happens.  Kate related how she and her visitor had been downstairs talking about the same kind of thing we had essentially been up in the Meditation Circle-  walking our talk, and how disturbing it was to this person when others didn’t.  Kate told me she had told the visitor about her recent practice of engaging in what she called “life review”, looking back over what she and her life had been like back when she was between the ages of 1-10, 10-20, etc and the changes she saw in herself over time.  I momentarily turned my attention to my own life in the first age bracket Kate mentioned and immediately felt grief.  I knew it had to do with the already triggered issue of my values.

I recognized a couple of things that were new for me consciously.  I was well aware that I had not been supported in my innate spiritual values by my parents, teachers, or clergy when I was young, but hadn’t realized how difficult if not impossible that had made it to live them out.  Children need that kind of support just as surely as they need support being fed, clothed, or loved.  I had blamed myself for the failure.  I was still sad about it and something kept the issue locked down.

As Kate asked me to tell her what was happening inside of me, I recognized the bigger part of it.  I felt hypocritical because I wasn’t living my own values and had been feeling it since I was a child.  I saw it every time I looked at myself in the mirror.  I looked like a lie.  At that moment I was having trouble containing it.  Obviously there was something to be resolved here, I thought, but what were the specifics that could bring it to resolution?  I asked my Guides if a healing about simply dropping my resistance to living my values (stop saying “NO!” to it) was the answer and they indicated that it wasn’t enough to get me to shift.  There was more.

As Kate and I continued our discussion the answer came into my mind from somewhere that no longer matters; I wanted others to live their values and the fact that they mostly didn’t left me in a place of bewilderment, sadness, and classic Indigo Child righteous indignation.  Then it dawned on me that I had no right to expect other people to live their values if I wasn’t doing it myself.  I had wanted them to go first!

It had started with wanting my parents to live their values instead of just forcing me to.  They had high ideals, but weren’t willing to back them up with commitment, sacrifice, or effort.  (“Do as I say, not as I do.”)  I resented it.  This wasn’t exactly a trauma for me, but it was a situation of time, consciousness, and energy, a kind of perpetual Mexican standoff that wasn’t getting resolved.  Clearly, no one else was going to flinch.  I had to make the first move.

When Kate muscle tested me when saying the statement, “Don’t expect other people to live their values if you’re not living your own,” I gave a weak or “NO!” response, the same as for the singular challenge to live my values.  Kate’s responses were the same and we realized the spiritual mandate for us to be examples of living one’s values.  My Guides suggested that this was the key I had been looking for.

We used that quote as the prompt for a Guided Head Movement healing for each of us.  after the third attempt to get that situation to shift inside of me, I wondered if it ever would, ever could.  On the fourth go-round, I felt a sudden all-over chill that heralded something breaking up and leaving me, and I knew a shift had indeed happened.  A muscle test confirmed that not only had I internally stopped expecting others to do what I wasn’t, but that I was saying “YES!” to living my values, a new state of Be-ing.  Kate shifted with one fewer pairing of YES/NO head movements and her own energy sensations.

This didn’t mean that it was all a “done-deal”.  We understood that we still needed to follow through to mobilize the changes.  We agreed we had already seen an example of people living their values, personified by the seven Tibetan Buddhist monks that had visited our center a month ago.  We could literally feel it standing near them and this had set something into motion within us that continues to this day.  We recognized that with time and practice we could feel that way to ourselves and to others, and in time become more effective agents for positive change.  The keys were in the ignition and had been there all along.

We say “Thank you” to all of our Mesa students, healing clients, and visitors.  We learn from YOU.

About Brad Silberberg

Brad Silberberg, director of The Mesa Creative Arts Center in Burgettstown, PA (Pittsburgh area) is an artist, holistic healer, spiritual leader, and change agent.
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