While I was swimming yesterday I received an unexpected blessing -someone’s criticism. Typically, we recoil from criticism, even if it’s in our own best interest. Being criticized can trigger all sorts of negative feelings depending on how you’re feeling, your openness to feedback, and your desire to improve and develop yourself – no matter how skilled you may already be.
Currently, I swim three days a week. I began competitive swimming way back in high school, and while I no longer compete, I train as if I do. Maybe it’s because I’m accustomed to training in a certain way that I push myself so hard. Maybe it’s because I like to see – for myself – just how much better I can get. Maybe it’s both. Regardless, in all my trips to the Olympic-size pool, with every lane double-occupied with swimmers , I have yet to witness anyone swim faster.
I’m not racing anyone per se, but it’s common that a healthy natural competitiveness does come up on occasion between myself and others, in my desire to refine and improve myself, in this and all areas of my life. Sharing a lane with me is not for the faint of heart. A 6’1″ athlete creates a sizable wake, especially one charging through the water at full throttle. Usually I am so focused that I spend little or no time in conversation with others, but yesterday, a woman interrupted that focus to offer a suggestion. In the pool at least, this is a rare occurrence for me, and her opening line intrigued me:
“Your stroke is out of balance.”
Now I pride myself on having heightened awareness, especially when it comes to myself, my body, my thoughts – but in the possibility of finding a new way to more efficiently do what I do, I had to hear more. We got into a friendly exchange of where the imperfection was in my stroke, and how that could become an injury. I mentioned it could be my shoulder, and she quickly found the tension spot where my stroke was clearly placing undue pressure. She described a slight adjustment, that like in martial arts, derives its true power from our core. Whether one throws a punch or reaches out for a swim stroke, your limb itself is only the tool, the extension of movement from that greater source of power and alignment.
I took her advice, made the shift in focus, and immediately saw improvement. My times were at their peak, and stayed there throughout the workout, rather than trailing off at the end of the set, as before they had always done. And I could feel the absence of the strain I had become accustomed to.
No matter how skilled I already was, in just remaining open, I had attracted this person, this message, and have already seen instant improvement as a result. That, and I’ve opened the door for myself to further refine this more efficient stroke – and state of mind. So where does my story about swimming fit in here?
Aside from the broader concept of continual improvement, swimming and exercise and physical fitness has always been a visceral metaphor for me and what I can accomplish. But even bigger than that is the message in staying open to the improvements others may provide – letting go of the ego-attachments of needing to be right, and embracing the idea that there might just be someone out there who could teach you a thing or two – no matter how much of an expert you may be.
I’ve begun my mentorship program, and I am enjoying the many resonant facets of the overall message and how it is structured. I have already established the daily routine of listening to online videos and recordings of spiritual and motivational messages about life, and purpose, living via the perspective of the greatest version of you. It comes as no surprise that I find resonance with a structured program of videos and recordings from a similar vein, only within the microcosm of establishing oneself as a known, working actor. Clearly this style of immersing myself in positive, useful, empowering messages – whether of a spiritual nature or a career-based viewpoint – is what works for me in a big way. And why not? We are already immersed in media chosen for us every day of our lives – we are used to it. I’m just more actively selecting far cleaner bathwater to soak myself in.
Now, granted, focusing upon the specific intricacies of what one should or should not do for this or any other career may at times may lead one away from that grander spiritual perspective. It involves a narrower focus, and kind of squeezes all that we are into a tight, confined space, so don’t linger there for long. Glean what is useful, but don’t get caught up in the details – they are far less important than having a strong, centered perspective.
I understand that my vantage point makes me an anomaly of sorts, and I’m okay with that. In fact, I like that. I have strengthened and reinforced that spiritual platform I have come to know into being the stalwart foundation from which my castles are being built. I don’t require my mentor or my friends and family or my coworkers to approach life from the same spiritual viewpoint, because I understand that that is what I bring to the party.
If I truly, deeply know myself, then I can trust that whomever I cross paths with, and whatever amazing benefits or opportunities they present, that my inner knowing is not at risk of being lost by my opening myself up to what they have to offer. And frankly, from experience, I find that in very short order I can sense where someone is coming from – whether they already resonate with me, or are coming from a fear-based, scarcity mindset in that moment. And that intuitive sense lets me know whether they are there to offer further refinement in a way I hadn’t thought of, or if they are there to help me further cement the perspective I have come to know and live by – they cannot make me doubt it. These are the only two options I give them: aid me in refining what I know, or help to further cement it – the rest just gets filtered out.
As I embark upon this new chapter of my journey, as set forth by my acting mentor (and others I’ve encountered along the way, as it turns out) I find myself more fully prepared to handle what ever circumstances I may encounter. I know, in aligning with my purpose, and staying tuned into my intuition and inner guidance system, that I can let go and trust the Universe to be the light that guides my way through this Life Ablaze.
“When you understand the law of attraction, you are never surprised by what occurs in your experience, for you understand that – through your own thought process – you have invited every bit of it in. Nothing can occur in your life experience without your invitation of it through your thought.” ~Abraham-Hicks