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Finding and Reconnecting with Your True Self

An Elk Encounter.

Do you remember how you felt the last time you saw a big animal in the wild? At Rocky Mountain National Park, I came very close to a massive bull elk while hiking. Not too far from the trail, the bull was roaming free about the woodland. Sensing me, the elk slowly raised his neck and held his head high revealing his huge antlers with strands of peeling velvet. We paused. I stood there in admiration. Then the bull continued roaming and eventually moved on—brushing away freely into the forest. Could the elk hold the secret to finding and reconnecting with your true self?

I was impressed. Later I was wondering why I had experienced such an exciting moment. What’s behind this feeling when we see a magnificent animal like an elk? Something about the elk resonates deep inside of us and provokes us to feel profoundly alive. Perhaps it’s how they wander freely, or how they pose confidently, or maybe it’s just how they seem to just be. So what can we can learn from an elk, and what does it portray?

Being present

What I first noticed was how synchronized the elk seemed to be in the present. He looked so poised and trusting of himself. In contrast, we tend to get lost in our thoughts of continuous rehearsals only to get stressed and anxious. Fortunately, there is something important we can learn from the elk. We can practice being in the present. Just as we see the elk—exposed—so can we engage in the present by being fully aware in our body. Pause for a moment and breathe. Breathe deeply, not the shallow breaths we’re used to. I’m so used to quick breaths that when I breathe more deeply I get dizzy. This simple and mindful activity forces you to focus in the present. You should feel your belly expand all the way up to your chest and shoulders. Your hands, your body, like the antlers, are fully functioning and capable. Being present means you set your thoughts aside. You focus on the present, and practice trust in your self, in your own massive elk.

Being whole

What I was truly thrilled to see was the elk himself, his being. Not his achievements. Not his possessions. I realized then that the elk is already successful being an elk—and so are you! We are already successful human beingsI wouldn’t want the elk to be anything other than an elk, and neither should you. Paradoxically we should strive to become better human beings, but not from a place of incompleteness. But what is better? Better at helping others. Freed from worries and anxieties of what we should do or become, we can start to open up to what we find meaningful. Being whole, that I am enough, we begin to feel energized to show up complete. You’ll start to enjoy and explore your woodland, not from a place of need, but from a place of wholeness. Choosing to do your art in wholeness enables energy to flow from worries towards creativity!

Being resourceful 

Finally, I appreciated how instinctively attuned the elk was with the environment. I could feel how grounded he was in his senses. This is why the elk is resourceful and stands so confident. This magnetic connectedness is what we feel when we encounter an animal in the wild. We inadvertently become fully aware of ourselves and nature as one. And in that moment, we are inspired to experience the world itself, and not our thoughts about the world. There is nothing to pretend and gratitude to express. Nature invites you to be more synchronized with your senses in the now, and that’s where you find how resourceful you can be. How? When preoccupied, deliberately slow down and notice your breathing. Acknowledge your thoughts, and gently let them go. Ask yourself: do I really need to know all the answers and outcomes? Of course not. 

Encountering the elk was an incredible reminder that we are fully functioning and capable beings! I learned that from a place of wholeness, we can feel complete at our core. Stop pursuing things to improve yourself. Instead, pursue to learn what you truly care about and that you can use to help others. That’s the secret. It’s relieving, isn’t it? No wonder it’s so thrilling to see animals in the wild, it is our core longing to be whole. We want to feel grounded, connected with life, and engaged in the present. It’s certainly worthwhile. When you begin to think a little too much, reconnect with your true self, find the elk within you. Let it guide you to feel massive and whole! Let this spark trust in your self! And ignite your resourcefulness in your life!

Juan F. Diaz

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Comments

Ted
Reply

Wonderful article Juan! Enjoyed reading about your encounter with this amazing animal and your discussion of its admirable qualities. I thought more about the concept of wholeness. It may be a uniquely human to feel a sense of incompleteness in being. I doubt we are born with this insecurity but rather that it is created by societal and cultural pressures to conform to certain values which perpetuate those societies and cultures. And a trillion dollar advertising and marketing industry is there to tell you that you are not whole unless you have this fabulous new product. Thanks for the reminder that we are enough. We are the product of ~4 billion years of evolutionary success! And a product of 10 billion years of cosmic evolution which proceeded that. We are incredibly fortunate and incredibly capable to be successful in our environment.

Juan F. Diaz
Reply

Hi Ted!
I think you are spot-on about the societal and cultural pressures to conform. It seems like we’re always doing something to “catch up”. Of course we never do. Instead, I find it organic to pursue learning and work from a stand point of wholeness. We are a product of 10 billion years of cosmic evolution!!
Thank you Ted!

alex frentz
Reply

Juan,

This is wonderful! Thank you, and I am going to leave it up and read it again tomorrow. I like the notion of wholeness, and, … showing up complete.

Many of us are stressed and anxious … but I think, well, partly we have gotten far away from our true-er selves, and (maybe I am being too literal here, with the Elk) our animal selves, as well.

Is it normal for a primate to stop, pull out a cell phone, and check text messages or facebook, just because the light is red?

Cheers,

Alex

Juan F. Diaz
Reply

Hi Alex,
I’m glad you found it useful! I agree. We have been way too cognitive about life (which is not a bad thing) but have been disconnecting from our animal selves–which is after all–what happens to move us.
Thanks for the comment!

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