Recently, a kind-hearted and brutally-honest human being noticed a slight social withdrawal of mine and lovingly accused me of hiding, though he admitted he hadn’t a clue about from what or whom I was hiding.
I honestly didn’t know the answer then.
But soon I realized I was just hiding me.
Again. Still. [Cuss].
The essence of my practice is my practice. And I appreciate its essence.
But what is essence?
From Aristotle’s words to ti ên einai, “the what it was to be”, the concept of essentia was conceived. Simply speaking, essence is what makes something what it is.
And everything has its own essence, every single thing.
Your essence is the whole expression of who you are.
Why do we hide it?
It happens quite easily, scarcely even noticed, sometimes altogether unnoticed—we hide our essential selves because we care about others and their happiness.
What a loving way to begin a journey, right?
Yet somehow we also begin to care about others’ opinions, expectations, and judgments too. We get lost along the way in the belief that if we become who others want and judge us to be, we’ll be acknowledged, accepted, and perhaps even appreciated.
We believe that when we hide it, we’re lovable.
We believe that in “acting” in ways that others might want us to, in ways that are sometimes even contrary to our essential natures, we are both loving and loved. But this notion of love comes more from the feeling of “fitting in” than a sense of “belonging”.
And it isn’t how happiness from within happens.
Why do we seek it?
Have you ever thought or said things like, “I can’t be myself at [this place] or around [that person],” or “I really like [doing this thing] or [being with that person] because I can just be myself,” or something of the like?
At these times, we consciously recognize the discomfort of hiding our essential selves. And in these moments we can see who we are and how we want to be present. It’s empowering. We know there is no need to “act”, that we can “be” who we are.
But sometimes seeking our essential selves doesn’t happen until after, little by little, we’ve twisted and turned ourselves into beings we don’t even recognize, beings who appear on the outside to be total strangers. We wonder who the [cuss] we are at times.
Yet somehow we know that the wild one within exists, the who we are to be.
We seek the essence of who we truly are because we’re pained by this “act”.
And why show it off?
Our egos, which start out having our own self-identity, -interest and -preservation in mind, seem to go all out though, and end up covertly convincing us to do whatever it takes to keep up all the appearances of “acting” in ways that claim to protect us, yet clearly pain us.
The ego? It’s still evolving.
But the essence? It knows.
Your essence knows the truth, that “being” yourself frees you to love your whole being, just as you are. And in acknowledging, understanding, accepting, appreciating, and knowing yourself, you can truly love yourself and others too.
What happens when we express ourselves, this essentia, when we dare to live life out loud?
Yes, fear instantly arises with ego. I’ve lived a long time with its loud whispering in my mind. How will I look? What will others think of me? What if they don’t like me? What if I’m not enough? What if I’m unlovable? I suspect we all do. Or is it just me?
These fear-filled questions still pop into my meddling mind, but I’ve learned not to answer to them because they’re not real.
My essence is real. And I can choose to think, say, and do what truly resounds with who I am. We all can.
All it takes is the courage of vulnerability, powered by pure love. We can consciously choose to show it off, one little-by-little bit of our big-self essence at a time.
In the moments we express who we truly are, we naturally experience a sense of self that rings true and brings to us a deep sense of acknowledgement, acceptance, and appreciation of ourselves, our wholeness, which in turn allows us to connect with others.
How can we really connect with others when we are not truly being ourselves? We can’t. The thoughts, and intentions, and words, and actions that arise from the essence of who we truly are bring real happiness to us all.
“If the essence of my being has caused a smile to have appeared upon your face or a touch of joy within your heart, then in living I have made my mark.” —Thomas L. Odem Jr.
You know that feeling you get when you say or do something straight from love, passing right by all the other-than-love crap that constantly tries to creep in?
That is the joy of pure, undiluted love.
Being our essential selves isn’t just an “act” of love, it’s the natural expression of it.
Our essence, who we are, is love.
What do you think essence is? Is essence the opposite of ego? In what ways do you dare to show off the essence of you?