Excerpt from Being Centered by Roman Oleh Yaworsky
Second Edition, Copyright © 2021 by Roman Oleh Yaworsky. All rights reserved.
$24.95 US, 292 pages
In a series of revealing and penetrating chapters, Roman Oleh Yaworsky traces how we give away our uniqueness, our joy and our power. This book is a blue print for reclaiming your life.
In each challenging event of our lives, we are presented with two things. The first is very familiar: the problem, the challenge, and the situation that makes our life difficult, or disrupts our way of being, and we just wish it would go away.
The second is a gift, an opportunity to make a shift forward towards growth. This part is often not very familiar to most of us. It asks us to go beyond our limitations and fears, and become someone greater than when we started.
It is always our choice whether we ride each event in our lives towards our hearts or away from our hearts. This is truly the choice we have in life. Our real freedom is in this choice. At each moment, with each event, we have the gift of the experience and also the consequence of avoiding the gift.
It is because many of us have become so accustomed to living away from our core that we tend to over focus on problems and issues. Instead of residing in our hearts, we spend too much time being blocked from our hearts by all of the accumulated negative emotions and hurtful experiences that form a crust around our hearts.
Because we spend so much time in this crust of emotions, problems, disappointments, expectations and self judgments, they begin to matter to us, out of proportion to their value in our lives. If we have gotten used to being un-centered, very removed from the moment and not in our own hearts, we tend to perceive the world in the same way. As a result, we begin to identify with our crust, or what matters to us according to our own limitations. It is our own personal crust, our own personal materializing of the issues that we continually experience.
In this manner, we encounter our disappointments and our frustrations. We encounter the crust in life that we identify with and that we have gotten used to. As a result, we may even wonder why we are so unlucky! We may wonder why the world is treating us so unfairly! In that state, we do not notice that we are interacting with the world from our crust, not our hearts, and so we get crust in return!
What we tend to miss are the gifts hiding in those experiences. Because we are avoiding being open in our own heart, we also avoid being open to the gifts that come our way.
We did not start out this way. At first, because there may have been only several instances of this crust, we are able to re-connect to the heart. The crust only hid some of our heart from us. This is like the child that is sad one moment and happy again a few moments later. After a time, there is an accumulation of hurts and pain around our hearts that we hold on to and do not release, and we tend to identify with these accumulated negative experiences, as if this is who we are.
We have expressions such as “what’s the matter?” or “what matters to me is” or we say things like “it doesn’t matter” when it does. Of course, the ‘matter’ that we are referring to is the material we have difficulty letting go of that accumulates around us, around our joy and our aliveness. As it accumulates around us, it stifles us.
What begins to matter to us is protecting that crust around our hearts more than protecting our own hearts. We learn to avoid the pain when that crust is touched, pushed or stepped on. Our sensitivity and identification with our crust, and thus what matters to us, extends to the world around us. Ultimately, the situation develops when access to the heart, to our center of being, is blocked by that crust.
When we can not reconnect with our own hearts and to our own core, we are prone to centering on other things: our issues, our difficult memories, external objects, ideals, hopes and fears. We also try to center on the core of others. Because we are not in our hearts, it is our disowned and still hurting experiences that reach out to other people. In this way, we blame others and make them responsible for holding or taking care of our own issues.
What can save us from continuing to move further and further from our hearts and joy, are the experiences that challenge our crust, that challenge what we have come to believe matters to us.Breaking the crust
Often, when we experience a difficult situation, the tendency is to be angry and blame someone else, someone close to us, or the universe. We tend to run from having any responsibility or part in our process. We tend to choose to play the role of the victim – “Why has this happened to me?”
Why do we act this way? It is because we are not responding with our hearts. Instead, our response is fueled by the encrusting of emotions and negative experiences that is far removed from our heart. In this crust are buried all the angers we have not released; the rage we deny, our frustrations and confusion. From this place we react with an emotional charge, with the same denial, rage or confusion. We say things like “This can’t be happening,” or “If there is a creator, how could they let this happen?”
However, that same difficult or challenging experience can also bring attention to what really matters. During these times, people have the opportunity to break the crust of their pride, arrogance, conceit, self-delusion or avoidance. They have an opportunity to break through to their humility, their honest feelings, their courage, their self-honesty and integrity. Often, at such times, people finally call out for help. Challenges can help us break through the crust so we can re-connect to our hearts and to our will and take responsibility for the moment.
The gift in each challenging event in our lives is that it can re-connect us to our own hearts and to the hearts of others. Extraordinary events can do so extraordinarily, if we let them. They wake us up and can free us from the pile of stuff we have let accumulate around us and around our hearts, letting in the light of feeling and aliveness.
The gift of the heart ‘in the matter,’ the gift at the core of each challenging opportunity, is that it can reconnect us to our own hearts, by helping us break through the stuff we have allowed to cover who we truly are.
I remember a time many years ago, when I took an active role in maintaining a meditation center. For the most part, people came to the center in order to support their own meditation practice. However, from time to time, a person would come with other agendas. When that happened, I felt it was my responsibility to intervene, and to protect the interests of the people that came to deepen their meditation.
Ironically, in those days, I was very quick to take care of others, and very slow to take care of myself. I tried to treat everyone fairly, even when they acted unfairly against me. That stance was pushed to the limit when a very shrewd and manipulative operator entered the picture. He sought my position, and he saw me as someone that stood in the way of his influence. He also clearly saw my weakness: I did not act out of my own self interests, and he knew that my stance would eventually leave me depleted, unsupported and isolated. Time was on his side. All he had to do was actively engage in strengthening his own influence and work against mine.
Believe it or not, it took several years before the crust around my heart finally developed cracks. I was stubborn, and I had a powerful ego playing the role of a nice guy. Therefore, I endured a lot of pounding, a lot of negative experiences. Eventually, I got sick. I developed arthritis followed by a life threatening swelling around my heart. That’s what it took to wake me up!
What this finally revealed to me, was that I was taking care of everyone but myself. I was taking myself for granted, and even the people that I thought I was helping were taking me for granted. I had been living in a delusion that I was doing the right thing. I was ignoring the most important thing — respecting my own life. I had not been defending myself or taking care of myself. Instead, I was defending everything else. I was defending my crust, and this crust had literally grown as a life threatening physical swelling around my own heart!
In time and with little choice, I learned to give up my false role and to take care of my feelings. In that shift from protecting my false sense of who I was, from what ‘mattered’ to me to what mattered for being in my heart, I finally began to learn how to own my power and take responsibility for myself and my purpose. Ironically, it was that shift that brought my spiritual journey back on track. And as I shifted to being centered, my illness evaporated. I healed.
If I had not suffered, I would more than likely be wasting away in that ignorance of playing the role of a nice guy for others, but not for my self. And, I would be continuing to take care of my crust, surrounding myself with the pain that came from holding false identifications of who I am. The gift, the heart of the matter for me, was rediscovering myself, my purpose and my own aliveness. That gift saved my life.
A long time ago, my friend Bill, was a department head responsible for coordinating and directing a prestigious medical research team. He worked long hours, never taking any time off, sacrificing family time and pretty well everything else, because he knew that people’s hopes for cures and perhaps their very lives depended on him.
Exhausted, after a number of years, he developed pneumonia. He was hospitalized. His recovery, because of his exhaustion and other complications, took weeks. Understandably, he was nervous and concerned about what his absence would do to all of the research he had been supervising. Later, he was shocked to find out that everyone did much better in his absence!
His colleagues’ success during his absence forced him to realize how controlling he had been. There were many competent people who could easily take on most of the responsibilities, in some cases better than he could. In fact, his obsession with being present and taking everything on had gotten in the way. This episode was pivotal for Bill. He learned to let go, to relax, to trust and to have faith. His health improved. He was happier. He spent much more time with family and friends. And people began to appreciate him more in his work.
The crisis that Bill underwent broke through some of the crust that had accumulated around his sense of who he was. He had acted from that crust by being overly controlling, hard on others and on himself. When he finally relaxed and let go of much of what he was carrying, he was freed to be closer to his heart, to who he really was. He also became much more effective in all areas of his life.
Bill underwent a life transformation that was sparked by an illness. Sometimes, we postpone our transformations, our chances to break the crust around our hearts until it threatens our very existence. Yet, why wait until you have a heart attack to make the changes and become alive again? Unfortunately, too many people do wait.
More often than not, life tends to send out all kinds of messages when you are not acting from your heart or from your own best interests because you are holding on to the very things that keep you out of your heart. Unfortunately, rather than listening, we tend to try harder.
Where do you tend to get caught? Do you know the warning signs of being pulled away from your heart and into what seems to matter more than being fully alive? Are you willing to heed theses signs and reevaluate your responsibility to yourself, or do you want to wait until the pressure builds?
1. Your energy decreases. Often, because you are disconnected from your heart and joy, there is less vitality in the way you interact with the world. That drop in energy can signal to you that something that you are holding on to has wedged itself between your heart and actions.
2. Your enthusiasm decreases. Have you stopped waking up looking forward to your day? Is your day filled with obligations and ‘shoulds’ rather than a feeling of excitement, eagerness and cheerfulness?
3. Your self worth decreases. When you are not looking after your own best interests, you are letting your own system know that other things or other people are more important than you.
4. Your time for yourself decreases. If you become caught up in something that begins to consume you, it also begins to consume your time for yourself, your own happiness, play and joy.
5. You begin to blame others. If you are not taking responsibility for your own feelings and for being caught in your own issues, the tendency is to blame others, especially others that do not agree with you.
6. You ignore people trying to help you. Because you are caught up in your own issues, you are likely defensive and protective of what is in that crust, and are more than likely to interpret help as interference.
7. You resist asking for help. Has tunnel vision set in? Has your ego blinded you to the fact that you may be way off course? Do you feel like you can do everything yourself?
8. You feel that you have a cause. Has your sense of worth become entangled in what you are doing? Have you confused taking responsibility of something outside of yourself with taking responsibility for yourself?
9. You stopped growing. Does it seem as if you are not moving forward in your life or in your career, and you can’t quite figure out what is going on? Perhaps it is the crust you are feeding that is growing, instead of you.
There is always a lesson and a gift in things that turn out differently than the way we want the universe to unfold. Otherwise, we would experience a universe that was boxed in with all of our issues, avoidances, defensiveness and fears. It would be devoid of presence, of life. It would just be our crust.
Often, when we try to hold on to our crust and to the things that we believe matter, we want the world to change. In a way, we want to contract the world, the things and the people around us, so that we can be comfortable holding our identification to our wounds and to what matters to us.
It doesn’t work that way. The world is bigger than we are. In order to be fully in the world, we ourselves have to become bigger. We need to create the space to become more open to what the world has to offer. To help us create that space, we need to let go of the crust, the attachment to things we think matter, when they really don’t.
We have to do this, or the universe will do it for us. When the universe does begin to do it for us, we need to recognize the gift, the heart in the matter.
We are all faced with great opportunities... brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.
In this chapter, we looked at how our hurts, avoidances and attachments begin to define us to the point of becoming what matters to us, out of proportion to their value in our lives. Often, the gift in the obstacles and challenges is their ability to help us break away the false identification, and the crust, revealing our aliveness and vitality.
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