Writer and artist, James Baldwin
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was Dostoevsky and Dickens who taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who ever had been alive. Only if we face these open wounds in ourselves can we understand them in other people.
LIFE Magazine, May 24, 1963
I can’t stress enough the importance of self-awareness. Baldwin knew this. Bruce Lee lived it. Intuitive artists paint it.
I recently attended a healing sound meditation at a local yoga studio. It was an hour-and-a-half long. Live sounds were created with crystal singing bowls and a quiet gong. We did light yoga and breathing exercises prior to the session to clear negative energy and prepare for insight. We hummed our voices to meditative notes to center ourselves. It was interesting, calming, new, and awakening.
I found myself relaxing, able to tune into my own deep thoughts and inquiries, discovering the most intrinsic answers. Among my silent questions was, “Why am I here?” My gut feeling and response (and most likely answer) was, “To learn”. It was profound and echoed what I always understood intellectually. Now it resonated with my soul. This awareness would’ve never happened had I not studied the tools to get there. The healing sound meditation brought needed reprieve from unsettling anxiety and depression.
Baldwin later said, “I want to be stretched, shook up, to overreach myself, and to make you feel that way too.” Whether we’re artists, writers, entrepreneurs, or philosophers, life at its apex is about self-knowledge. Author Stephen Covey writes, “Seek first to understand, then be understood”. Without the private pursuit of self-understanding, the civic capacity to care for others remains disturbingly and unnervingly incomplete.
By Kim Bragado for The Authentic Thinker