Abilii - the releif of mental stress
Perhaps everything terrible in us, is, in its deepest being, something helpless that needs help.
Abilii is the mindset of openness to compassionate self-correction. It is the will to allow the errors of our thoughts, words and actions to come into conscious awareness and joyfully, with love for ourselves for doing so, correct such errors. It includes the concept of correcting errors with love and joy rather than with self-castigation, self-denigration or remorse. The intention is to learn from mistakes and enjoy the self-development that results.
There is no need to condemn ourselves or others while learning how to do things better and more wisely; in fact it is a cause for celebration. We cannot change patterns until we are aware of them. To have identified a way in which we are dysfunctional is the first step to change and can be a source of joy, as it means we can now move towards healthier happier functioning in the world and develop better relationships with ourselves and others as a result.
We need to challenge the belief that “sin” requires punishment. “Sin” derives from an ancient archery term that means simply “missing the mark”. After missing the mark, the archer restrings his bow and takes aim again, learning from the experience and making the necessary corrections. There is no blame in making mistakes; it is simply an opportunity to learn something valuable.
Suppressing our awareness of our errors together with the idea of inevitable punishment can cause us to choose pathways in life that tend to bring about that punishment. Because energy follows thought, what we believe is what we get, the images we hold in our minds actualise. Abilii invites us to release such patterns and to focus on the desired changes and work out how we can make them with compassion and understanding for ourselves.
The way I see it when I mess up, I can (and frequently do) sit round and cry about it, beat myself up, rail against the world that the outcome is as it is. However when all’s said and done, the mess is still there. To practice Abilii is to acknowledge the mess and my part in creating it and without emotional self-indulgence to start clearing up. Beating ourselves up over our shortcomings doesn’t change them, and very often people will use guilt as a way of avoiding change. Feeling terrible about what you’ve done doesn’t help anyone. Abilii releases us from the pain we feel into a more positive and constructive take on the world.
Every part of our personality that we do not love will become hostile to us.
The first step to developing Abilii is to accept and love ourselves as we are. Affirmations are a deceptively simple way of doing so. To affirm means to “make firm” and an affirmation is a strong, positive statement that some desirable state is already so. There are several different approaches I’ve encountered to affirmations but this process is the one that I, and the people I’ve worked with, have found most effective.
- Identifying negative beliefs: First of all make a list of your beliefs about yourself. E.g. “people don’t appreciate what I do”, “I never get what I want”, “I’m too…” Keep going until you are pretty sure that you’ve identified most of your negative beliefs about yourself. You may need to pay attention to yourself over a period of days, listening to the things you say to yourself e.g. “I’m such an idiot” when you drop something. This stage takes time and you need to identify how many ways you generate negative self-talk.
- Generating affirmations: Choose 1 of these negative beliefs to work on. Pick one that you believe absolutely, the one that is, in your head, a fact rather than a belief. You are going to use this to create your own personally tailored affirmation by taking this belief, identifying the opposite and then reprogramming your mind to accept this new idea. There are rules to how affirmations are generated:
- They must always be in the present tense.
- They must be in the most positive form i.e. “I am calm and centred at all times” rather than “I don’t lose my temper any more”.
- Keep them short and keep them simple. We are reprogramming our mind here and if an affirmation is too long it is less effective – and it takes too long to write.
- Clearing: This is an absolutely ESSENTIAL stage of the process and neglecting it is a powerful form of self-sabotage and one of the main reasons that people find affirmations don’t work for them. So you write the affirmation you have chosen on a sheet of paper e.g. “I am a beautiful, strong, loving woman” – now write down why that cannot be true. Whatever comes up “No way, I’m fat.” Then write the affirmation again and let the next block come up and write that down. Keep going until you have written down every single reason why this affirmation you’ve generated is rubbish. And when you can’t think of any more, write the affirmation out slowly ten times, saying it out loud to yourself as you write. This process takes time and privacy because emotions will come up as you are doing it. The negative beliefs we hold about ourselves HURT.
- Repetition: Now you have your affirmation, have created a space for it to fit, and now you need to work with it. It works best if you do affirmations in the format – “I (your name) am loveable. You (your name) are loveable. (your name) is loveable”. But it makes sense, because the messages we hold about ourselves come from the outside as well as the inside. Just make sure you do them regularly. The most effective method I’ve found is to set aside about 10 minutes morning and night to write them down and as you are writing SAY them to yourself. And just laugh at how much resistance it is possible to find to doing something so simple. My own favourite is that I fall asleep no matter how well rested I am!
- After a week, repeat the clearing exercise and keep going with the process until you see change and then move on to another one.
Meeting Wisdom on the Mountain
Light a candle and sit where you can see it whenever you look up. When you light the candle say “I will ask my guide for help”. Then write down what it is that is causing you mental stress, what the problem is, in as much detail as you can. Take as long as you need but put it all on the page.
Now relax, look at the candle for a while, lie down on the ground and let the ground take your weight. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Don’t try to change it in any way, just let the air float in and out as it does. Now feel the contact between you and the ground. Feel the ground support you and as you do so, let your weight sink into the ground. Your body is growing heavier and heavier and you are becoming more and more deeply relaxed.
Now that your body is deeply relaxed, you find that you can float away from it lightly and you find yourself at the foot of a mountain. Look at the mountain path you see before you. Breath deeply and smell the freshness of the air. Listen to the birds calling. See the sunlight playing with the leaves and hear their gentle rustle.
Now you set off up the mountain path. Climbing higher and higher now and the ascent becoming steeper but you are enjoying the exercise, feeling the power in your limbs as you walk up the mountain path. You are drawing on an inner strength and the climb is almost effortless. The air is getting thinner now, yet it is clean and clear. And as you near the summit you begin to feel a growing excitement. You don’t know what’s going to happen but it feels like it will be good.
Now you have reached the summit and there waiting for you is a wise old person – it’s not clear at first whether they are a man or a woman, they are just old. When you look into that wrinkled old face you see such understanding in their eyes that you know you could tell them absolutely anything. And so you do, you pour out your woes to this wise one and in the telling, your spirit grows calm. You tell them your name and wait for them to say who they are, but they just smile and you realise that for one so grown in wisdom, it is unimportant. And now you talk, you and the wise old one, and they tell you what you need to know. Sometimes they tell you things it’s not easy to hear but they do it so gently and with such compassion that you know you want to handle things better, so you’re glad you now know how.
Now the time has come to part. Say goodbye to your wise old one, thanking them for their support, You turn and look at the view and know that you will take this peace and the wisdom you have just gained back with you.
You start to walk back down the path. As you walk you are savouring the magic of the encounter, filled with hope and resolution, knowing that you have within you the power to change. Slowly you find that you have returned to your body and feel again the support of the ground beneath you. When you are ready, open your eyes, stretch and return to the room.
Without breaking your concentration, write about or draw an image from your experience, whichever comes more naturally to you.
My experience of Abilii
This is the goodwill pattern I find hardest. I have spent years alternating between blaming others and hating myself. I’ve just about managed to get to a place where I’m beginning to see the relationship between what I do and what happens me, and that there is possibly something I can do about it.
Blessed are they who can be conscious of their wrongs and correct them with joy and forgiveness, for they shall be cured of mental stress and grow stronger.
It has also been the goodwill pattern that has been of greatest significance to me recently as I emerge from the extraordinarily messy ending to a relationship that was important to me. It’s the first time I’ve ever been able to see my part in how events unfolded and while I can see that this is a positive development, I’ve been in bits. I think I am becoming open to seeing my errors, but it is more a case of acknowledging them in sorrow than celebrating the awareness with joy. Maybe the joy comes later. I don’t know but I sort of resent the notion that this extraordinarily painful process of emerging self awareness and the willingness to learn from this distressing situation is something I’m supposed to enjoy. However it has to be said that this, just as it is, painful and all, is a vast improvement on the angry martyred attitude I adopted when I blamed others in my lack of awareness for the part I played in situations, or the suicidal self-hatred I have known when I have allowed myself to see my failings.