Halloween is only a few days away, and everyone’s putting the finishing touches on their costumes. But where does this tradition come from? It’s not a modern concept but an old belief. On All Hallows’ Eve, people believed the spirits of the dead were able to walk the earth. If that wasn’t frightening enough, what if one of those spirits had a reason to be angry with you? For fear of being recognized, people began to make and wear masks to hide their appearance.
Halloween has transformed over the years from a religious observance (a mixture of pagan and Catholicism) into a celebration where costumes are part of the fun. Whether you wear a mask as part of your costume this year or not, this is a great time to think about how we may hide who we truly are. This year, as we approach Halloween, let us take off our metaphorical masks and show the world who we are.
As part of the yogi’s journey, we begin the process of self-discovery. We learn to unite mind and body, and through that union, we invite peace into our lives. It’s through this process that we begin to catch glimpses of who we are – the real us, who we might have hidden away over the years for fear of being judged.
Many of us have donned a mask of sorts to appear more normal, more like everyone else. This mask helps to keep the critics at bay, but it stifles our growth and spiritual development. It starts to diminish that light which shines inside of us, the light which is our spirit.
Our masks may smile, even laugh with the world but inside our soul is crying and alone. Now that we have traveled inward and embraced the spirit, it’s time to love and nurture it, and build the courage to take off the mask.
This Halloween, let’s allow our costumes to reflect who we are. Unmasking our true self is liberating; it lifts an incredible weight, and spurs further growth.
So how do we find the love, acceptance and courage that we need to unmask our true self?
Change Your Language Do you ever stop to listen to your thoughts? We can be pretty harsh. To find love and acceptance, we need to change the way we speak to ourselves. Would you stay in a relationship where someone constantly berated you? No. That is not love. Love is nurturing and uplifting. We are going to make mistakes – it’s how we learn, after all. The next time you make a mistake, catch yourself. Instead of saying something negative, tell yourself “OK, learn from this, and then move on.” It’s amazing how your life will change.
Meditate If you’ve tried meditation and thought it was too hard, stick with it. There are many different forms of meditation. We all know and recognize the common form of meditation: sitting on the floor with our feet crossed in silence for some length of time. The people who can do this, they’ve practiced a lot. Have patience with yourself. Start with small doses, and explore the many forms of meditation. Reading a daily affirmation or meditation can have a profound impact. In the silence of our thoughts we learn great things, both about ourselves and our world.
Practice Yoga If you’ve established a yoga practice, congratulations! You’re already working towards self-love and acceptance, whether you know it or not. When we practice, we quiet the mind and bring our attention into our bodies. Our bodies are amazing things and if we pay attention, we can feel the new strength and quality of movement gained with every practice. The more we step onto our mats, the more we are making a commitment to get to know ourselves. And to love someone, you have to know them. When you love someone, you want to show them off to the world.
Let Go Our mind is an amazing place. We have the ability to remember every negative and embarrassing experience in our lives. And we do remember all of them. In fact, we re-live them, and every time we go over one of those experiences, it brings with it a wave of self-doubt and negative self-talk. We tell ourselves that these are learning tools, that we are learning for the next time, but the positive effect is negligible, if existent at all. You have permission, better yet a directive, to let go of those negative memories. If emptying your mind is difficult, try this: take a sheet of paper and cut it up into small pieces. Write down your negative memories on these pieces of paper. Place them in a fireplace or non-flammable bowl of some kind and burn them. The physical and mental release from this simple exercise is extremely powerful.
Go For It Whenever you get the urge to do something spontaneous, go for it. This is your spirit calling out to you from the inside, urging you to express yourself, to embrace your creativity. The moment you start to wonder what other people will think of you – you’ve lost it. You’ve gone down the rabbit hole and the mask is back on.
Do you ever see someone wearing something different and think, “that works for them” or, “they’re really owning that”? That would be confidence you’re witnessing, their creative energy, their true self – without a mask. So this year, find your quirky style and own it. Nerdy, loud, bohemian, punk, alternative – who cares what other people call it? Your style is your own. Embrace it.