The word values sparks thoughts about where we would like to place our time and energy if we could focus on the things that really matter to us. We dream of symbiotic relationships in mind, body and spirit. We value that perfect balance, and in one way or another, we generally picture ourselves at some level of striving to attain it, no matter how much we have or have not achieved to that end. We often blend the concepts of values and ideals to the point where it becomes hard to tell the difference. Let’s begin with detangling our ideas around values, because understanding the ways our own concept of the word can be limiting is an invaluable tool for unlocking a broader understanding of our world and the places we might find true joy within it.
If we view our personal values through the lens of where we actually spend our time and energy vs. where we wish we did, we are provided a much more honest view of what is truly happening in our lives at any moment in time. This perspective allows us to see our ingrained patterns with objectivity, rather than feel defensive every time we are making a choice we feel we must justify to ourselves and/or others; especially in hindsight when there is nothing we can do to change the outcome. This vantage point can deliver some harsh realities to our perception of ‘truth’, but it does so in a manner that fills us with awe and wonder instead of walking down the well-worn paths of shame and blame.
Personally, at 52 years old, I can acknowledge out loud that I have spent several years of my life valuing watching television (TV is intended as a very broad term here) above many other things. Up until practicing Our Raw Material, I would have vehemently argued that TV had no value in my life. I could and would have spoken in judgment of it, never making the connection that what was on television has at times had a direct impact on my daily choices. If asked, I would not have placed watching television on my list of values. I have generally believed television to be a waste of my time, with the very real exception of Saturday Mornings when I was a kid.
There were a couple of years I genuinely lived for that magical bubble. Hours of cartoons turned into American Bandstand, followed by Soul Train, and then I always felt energized and ready to rock (School House-style)! I As a teenager, my summer days often involved the internal question, “should I get up and exercise, go to the pool, see friends, or should I sit here and watch whatever is on HBO until General Hospital comes on, mindlessly throwing a tennis ball against the wall and catching it while lying on my back - over and over and over… I hope you can see the pattern as it formed: As a young teen, TV was so much a part of my day that it faded into the background. I was almost 13 when MTV debuted and began a stream of 24/7 programming, which began while I was staying a week with my grandparents, who lived on a lake. I spent the week glued to the television more often than swimming, skiing or sailing - the things I believed had real value in my life at the time. A version of these unacknowledged behaviors carried over into my adulthood, and it wasn’t until I started defining personal values that I was able to see how my actual behaviors and my concept of personal values were often at odds. I can clearly see that challenges to that concept would have sent me into defensiveness because deep down I was vulnerable. I didn’t have a specifically defined concept of what was truly important to me: emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. I had blurred my vision around Values and Ideals. I was perceiving my ideals as my values because I wasn’t intentional about understanding the difference. Once I tapped into the power that comes with Value Awareness, I found myself enjoying increased energy and understanding that made me interested in uncovering more.
At this moment, my personal values do not involve watching television, even though my actions and behavior have at times demonstrated otherwise. With ORM, I can increasingly hold my behavior and beliefs with objectivity. At this point in my practice, if I am watching television, I am fully aware of the choice I am making for my time and I am placing value around what I am doing. It makes me choose programs and movies that enhance my inner environment in some way, even if it is purely for entertainment. I’ve given television a specific purpose that is aligned with my values and so far, I haven’t experienced regret after letting myself relax into something I have chosen to put energy toward. Ideally, every time I watch television, I am moving breath through my body and clearing the energetic debris that collects naturally in the body. I am balancing my emotional, spiritual, mental and physical bodies with intention. I value the effort I put into that ideal, even though there are times I lay on the couch or floor barely aware of my breath as it operates in its involuntary mode, without my focused input.
Ideals spring from our imagination and creativity. They can seem possible or impossible in the real world. They expand our mind and body to break down limitations and feel a broader, more connected space. Ideally, we can all find our unique purpose in that space by clearing the body of energetic buildups that stem from the largest to the smallest interruptions in our feelings of safety. We each have conditions that create fear and doubt, and various ways of managing the accompanying discomfort. Being clear about our Values (where and how we put our time and energy) and creative with our Ideals (the best our imagination can offer a situation) deepens our ability to transform our perceived ‘distortions from wholeness’ into useable energy as we move through the world knowing we will face challenges, but having the tools to meet them with natural, universal guidance and support.