Episode 216: Beating Your Imposter Syndrome
Conquering Your Imposter Syndrome and Embracing True Presence w. Light Watkins
This content was inspired by a conversation with meditation expert Light Watkins.
Conquering Your Imposter Syndrome and Embracing True Presence with Light Watkins
For today’s blog post, I had the pleasure of interviewing Light Watkins, a renowned meditation teacher. Light’s approach to meditation is unique and refreshing. Unlike what you might expect, he doesn’t make it complicated or overwhelming. Instead, he acts as a coach, guiding you step by step into the practice.
What I find fascinating about Light’s teachings is how he breaks down the mechanics of meditation. He has written books like “Bliss More,” where he shares practical techniques to help you quiet your mind and enter a meditative state. It’s incredible to see how something that may seem daunting at first can be simplified and made accessible.
The benefits of meditation are well-documented, from improving your overall well-being to enhancing brain and body health. Light emphasizes the importance of dedicating just 20 minutes a day to meditation. With his guidance, you can follow clear instructions and then simply allow the process to unfold naturally.
During our conversation, we also delved into Light’s latest book, “Travel Light.” In this book, he explores the concept of spiritual minimalism, inspired by his own personal journey of living out of a backpack for at least five years. It’s intriguing to consider what we can learn from embracing a more minimalistic lifestyle and how it can contribute to our spiritual growth.
What sets Light apart is his ability to bridge the gap between the highly spiritual and the grounded aspects of life. He speaks in a language that resonates with regular people, like myself, who lead busy lives. He makes deep philosophical and spiritual practices relatable and applicable to everyday situations.
I highly recommend checking out Light’s podcast, “The Light Watkins Show,” where he dives even deeper into these topics. And don’t forget to grab a copy of his latest book, “Travel Light.” I hope you find his teachings as enlightening and transformative as I have.
Navigating Imposter Syndrome & Comfort Zones
As we grow older, we often come to a realization, one that I’m sure you’ve encountered too: imposter syndrome. Yes, it’s a common experience, and it affects us all. We all grapple with it because we’re all navigating uncharted territory in our lives. Recently, I made a post where I suggested that anyone living life on the edge, whatever that edge may be for them, experiences imposter syndrome. If you find yourself not experiencing it, it might be a sign that you’re comfortably within your comfort zone, simply going through the motions. But deep down, we all want to push ourselves, to grow, and to evolve. To achieve that, we need to stretch ourselves.
It’s essential to put ourselves in situations and places where we must do things we may not initially want to do. Personally, I’ll admit I’m not a fan of ice baths, but the last time I took one was at a friend’s house. I wouldn’t have done it if everyone else hadn’t been participating. It’s akin to the saying, “If you hang around the barbershop long enough, you’ll get a haircut.”
Even if you’re not enthusiastic about certain activities, being in the proximity of others who are engaged in them can lead you to embrace mindfulness and meditation more naturally. You see, you can’t rely solely on intellectual exercises in today’s challenging world. It’s a tough place, and it’s only getting tougher; that much is clear.
One of the reasons we experience suffering is that we cling to the expectation that one day things will magically change. In my experience, that day never truly arrives; life keeps getting more demanding and complex.
Consider this: As time passes, especially when you have children, there’s a sense of urgency to savor every moment before they leave the nest. We’ve all been through that phase of growing up and gradually seeing our parents only on holidays, vacations, and birthdays.
However, pushing too hard for those moments can sometimes backfire. The more you insist, the more they resist. So, we’re all seeking that delicate balance. My theory is that if we can turn everything into a form of meditation, we can create more of the experiences we desire in life.
Meditation can become a foundational practice in your daily routine, even in the most mundane tasks like doing laundry or going through your to-do list. It’s not an either/or situation where you have to choose between productivity and mindfulness; it’s about integrating both.
If you start viewing life as a continuous process rather than a race to the finish line, it becomes easier to handle both the good and not-so-good times. Whether you’re feeling fantastic or under the weather, perhaps even in a phase of healing, it’s all part of the journey. Likewise, when you’re taking care of someone and hoping for a specific response, but they’re not meeting those expectations, that’s also part of it.
Think of it like the ice bath – each experience is a lesson that strengthens you for the challenges that truly matter in life. Ultimately, it’s not about the ice bath itself; it’s all preparation for how we show up in the real world.
Cultivating a Stronger Daily Presence
Unlocking the Power of Presence: Embracing Gratitude in Daily Life
In the hustle and bustle of our daily routines, it’s easy to lose sight of the little things, the moments that hold the essence of life. Often, we find ourselves caught up in the whirlwind of tasks and responsibilities, the never-ending to-do lists, and the relentless pursuit of productivity. But what if there’s a way to reclaim those lost moments, slow down time, and truly savor the beauty of existence?
Gratitude should always be a cornerstone of your approach to life. It’s not about clinging to the past or attaching to fading memories; it’s about showing up each day with a deep sense of appreciation. Gratitude is a way of being present at the moment and acknowledging the gift of life as it unfolds.
In many ways, it’s like a game of volleyball. Once the ball is served, that moment is gone, never to return. There’s no need to dwell on it or carry the weight of attachment. Instead, we embrace the present, eagerly anticipating the next serve.
This is where the magic happens—when we become fully present to what’s happening now. It’s like spotting a ladybug outside and feeling genuine excitement. It might seem trivial, but it’s a reminder of the extraordinary world around us. It’s about noticing the hummingbirds in the bush and marveling at their grace.
The beauty of presence lies in its simplicity. It doesn’t always have to be grand or monumental. It’s those seemingly insignificant moments that, when truly experienced, slow down the relentless march of time. They’re the essence of life, the “good stuff” that keeps life from slipping through our fingers as we age.
But, as with many things in life, not everyone finds it easy to embrace presence. It can be a contentious point in relationships. This brings me to the broader question of how we, as a collective, can tap into the freedom that’s within our grasp. We often agree with philosophies like minimalism and the value of experiential living, but many of us struggle to put these ideas into practice. We feel trapped by responsibilities, some of which we’ve created ourselves.
The truth is, you can’t force yourself into a state of presence through intellectual exercises. It’s more like those magic eye puzzles we used to stare at – you can’t predict what you’ll see until you surrender to the process. Presence isn’t about actively trying to be present; it’s a state that you cultivate over time, much like building physical strength.
It’s akin to learning to do a pull-up. You can understand the concept, but the actual act of pulling yourself up on that bar takes time and effort. Once you achieve it, though, it becomes second nature. Presence follows a similar trajectory – it requires patience and practice.
So, how can we cultivate presence in our lives? It’s about softening and surrendering, about allowing the moment to unfold without preconceived notions. It’s about being in the now, not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Ultimately, presence isn’t about trying to be present; it’s about being. It’s a journey, a process, and it takes time. Just like with physical exercises, you start with small steps and gradually build your capacity for presence.
Meditation: The Key to Self-Regulation and Authenticity
Have you ever wondered if meditation can help you quickly self-regulate and become more aware of yourself? The answer is yes, and here’s how.
Meditation doesn’t make life’s challenges disappear, but it does make them more manageable. It doesn’t instantly turn you into a perfectly self-aware and authentic individual, but it significantly eases the journey toward that state.
Meditation makes it less difficult to navigate the complexities of life, and here’s why: it empowers you to be yourself consistently in all scenarios. When you make meditation a consistent practice, you’re less likely to pretend to be someone you’re not.
The key difference lies in where you seek fulfillment. Meditation shifts your focus from seeking validation and satisfaction from external outcomes to finding fulfillment within yourself. You no longer approach situations hoping people will like you, laugh at your jokes, or approve of you.
Instead, you bring your own fulfillment to every situation. You act from a place of service and genuine intent. You still aim to do good and make a positive impact, but your motivation shifts from seeking approval to providing value.
Of course, we’re all human, and our ego minds can still sneak in and try to hijack our thoughts and actions. We might find ourselves overly concerned about what others are thinking or doing. But with meditation, it becomes easier to notice these patterns and gently guide ourselves back to authenticity.
Meditation doesn’t eliminate the ego, but it empowers us to manage it more effectively. It lessens the grip of that constant desire for external validation, making it a bit less challenging to resist its pull.
Technology: Friend or Foe?
Technology – it’s a topic that often divides opinions. Some see it as a friend, others as a foe. When technology is elegantly designed, it becomes more than just a tool; it becomes a seamless part of our lives. It doesn’t just look good; it functions in a way that makes life smoother and more navigable.
Elegant technology is a true friend. It enhances our daily experiences, simplifies tasks, and keeps us connected in a rapidly evolving world. It’s a source of inspiration and endless possibilities, making us more efficient, creative, and informed.
However, not all technology fits the bill. Some gadgets and systems fall short. There’s nothing worse than when technology fails to do what it’s designed to do.
Take, for example, those motion-detecting sinks you encounter at airports or other public places. They’re meant to be convenient, but when they don’t work correctly, it can be frustrating and even a bit embarrassing. You find yourself waving your hands or doing a little dance just to get water to flow. It’s a scenario we’ve all experienced, and it’s far from enjoyable.
But here’s where meditation comes in – it’s a saving grace. When faced with technology hiccups, meditation provides a valuable tool for staying calm and composed. It helps us manage our reactions and maintain our inner peace, even in the face of malfunctioning gadgets.
So, is technology a friend or foe? It’s both, depending on how elegantly it’s designed and whether it performs its intended function. But whatever your stance, remember that meditation can be your ally in navigating the ever-evolving world of technology, keeping you centered and serene even when faced with a misbehaving motion-detecting sink or any other digital dilemma.
The Sources of Suffering & Shifting Expectations
Now, back to meditation. Many perceive it as a subtle practice, making it susceptible to hijacking by the wandering mind. But there’s a misconception here – meditation isn’t about eluding your thoughts. It’s about understanding the mechanics of navigating them.
Imagine you didn’t know how to swim until you decided to take lessons at the ripe age of, say, 32. Sure, you could tread water, but crossing a pool seemed like a life-or-death challenge. That’s how many people feel about meditation – like novices in deep water. But it’s not about having a “monkey mind” where the mind is busy because it’s looking for something very specific. It’s more about learning how to move through your thoughts.
Think about it this way: just because you couldn’t swim before doesn’t mean you had “monkey arms” or “monkey legs.” You merely hadn’t grasped the mechanics. Once you did, swimming became second nature. Meditation operates similarly. You learn the mechanics before diving in, cultivating presence over time.
So, how do you cultivate presence and navigate life’s challenges with meditation? First, you must grasp the mechanics. It’s not about your history, zodiac sign, or personal quirks – it’s about understanding how your mind works.
But what about difficult times, like heartbreak? Do you meditate differently, then? The answer is no; you meditate in every situation. Your external circumstances don’t dictate your internal experience. Meditation isn’t about personal preference; it’s about understanding the mechanics of your mind and emotions.
The science behind meditation is fascinating. One compelling statistic reveals that we use only two to 10% of our brain’s capacity at any given time, depending on the activity. Meditation synchronizes your whole brain and rewires it, leading to more orderly thinking, enhanced creativity, and improved decision-making. Additionally, meditation connects your brain and heart, fostering heart-led decision-making, often more holistic and intuitive than pure intellectual choices. It empowers you to handle stress effectively, regardless of your circumstances.
But here’s the challenge: not everyone is in the same place in life. For some, meditation is a luxury, a pursuit of self-actualization. But for others, it’s not on the radar – they’re focused on survival. For those struggling with the basics, meditation might seem out of reach. Stress affects everyone, though, and meditation is a powerful antidote. Without a stress release valve, people may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol or excessive screen time, leading to physical health issues. The goal is to make meditation more accessible. It’s not about adding one more task to an already overwhelming schedule. Instead, it’s a tool for managing stress, making better decisions, and improving overall well-being. You don’t need hours of meditation; even 20 minutes can make a difference.
So, let’s debunk the myth that meditation is only for the privileged few. There are free resources, short introductions, and accessible techniques for everyone. Consider meditation as a practical solution for managing stress and enhancing your life – no matter where you are on your journey.
Exploring the Path of Mindful Living
So, what’s the essence of meditation? When we talk about mechanics, meditation has its own set. Most people mistakenly try to control their minds during meditation, but there’s a fascinating study that sheds light on this. It’s the “white polar bear study,” which, oddly enough, has nothing to do with meditation.
In this study, students were asked to focus on a single thought—white polar bears. They had to tap a bell every time they thought of this. Then, they were told to let their minds wander freely, but the only rule was not to think about white polar bears. Surprisingly, people thought about white polar bears more when they were not supposed to. This experiment revealed two important truths about the mind.
First, it’s normal for the mind to wander every few seconds, often to unwanted thoughts. Second, when you try to suppress a thought, it persists. This applies to meditation as well. If you resist your thoughts during meditation, you’ll find yourself fixating on the very thoughts you want to avoid. Instead, you should go with the flow, like swimming with the current.
Your mind is like water; when you stop fighting it, it supports you. So, when you stop trying to eliminate certain thoughts during meditation and simply let them be, they naturally fade away. If you don’t resist distractions, you’ll eventually lose awareness of them too.
The Importance of Boundaries
Establishing boundaries is important in any relationship. How we communicate those boundaries is crucial. Learn to choose the “sweet truth” when having these discussions. It’s essential to start with appreciation, recognition, and validation. If someone offers something generously, but you can’t accept it, it’s crucial to express gratitude and then kindly state your position.
And the approach you take depends on the other person’s boundaries. If they have poor boundaries, you may need to be more direct. However, remember that there are usually signs that someone lacks boundaries, signs we sometimes overlook. So, pay attention to those signs to avoid surprises.
It’s interesting how strength is often associated with moving away from situations that don’t serve you. This aligns with the idea of the “sweet truth.” Assess the situation and determine if it aligns with your current state. If it doesn’t, communicate your position, not in an aggressive manner, but with respect. If you don’t have the discernment to recognize when a situation isn’t right, then you have to accept the consequences.
Regular meditation hones your internal radar. It helps you sense when something isn’t right. When you feel something is off or someone’s energy doesn’t align with yours, it’s like an internal alarm. This awareness guides you away from situations that aren’t meant for you, whether in work or relationships.
In romantic relationships, it’s a different story. Partners are like professors, helping us learn life’s lessons. The key is not to personalize their flaws but to focus on the lessons they offer.
Unlocking the Potential of Minimalism
Minimalism isn’t solely about decluttering our external possessions; it’s about simplifying and decluttering our internal world. When we embark on this inner journey, we might make choices that don’t seem logical to others, but these choices are often aligned with our path at that particular moment.
Light Watkins’ shared his own personal experience as an example. At a certain point in his life, Light felt an inner calling to seek a different kind of experience, even though he didn’t fully understand why. This journey led Light to an unexpected decision: to relinquish his beautifully located two-bedroom apartment just ten minutes from the beach in a highly desirable area of Venice. This decision might seem irrational, especially since he aspired to start a family. Living from a backpack and not having a permanent residence hardly made him an attractive prospect in the dating world.
However, Light had a growing sense that his connection to that apartment and Los Angeles had waned. Returning to Los Angeles after traveling no longer excited him. The allure of exploring different places and fully immersing himself in new experiences had become more appealing. Light realized that he needed to release the ties that bound him to a previous life – the mundane responsibilities like moving his car or caring for plants.
This wasn’t a commitment to a minimalist lifestyle for eternity; it was about embracing it for the present moment. Light understood that these experiences could serve as valuable lessons. It became clear to him that ignoring that inner voice and resisting change would only lead to dissatisfaction and, ultimately, illness.
Throughout this journey, meditation played a significant role. Meditation helped Light recognize that the mind often resists change and fights against what it perceives as discomfort. However, it also taught him that embracing discomfort and change makes us stronger and more resilient. It’s essential to develop the capacity to endure challenging situations, especially when you’re pursuing your life’s mission. The path you choose won’t always be easy, and you might face opposition and isolation.
Our society often encourages us to seek comfort and stability, but true fulfillment comes from aligning your life with your inner guidance, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone. The pursuit of comfort alone rarely leads to long-lasting satisfaction.
In closing, the journey towards self-discovery and personal growth is an intricate dance between comfort and discomfort, stability and change, holding on and letting go. As we navigate this path, tools such as meditation and practices like minimalism can serve as compasses, guiding us toward our authentic selves. They teach us to embrace change, respect boundaries, and become comfortable with discomfort. It’s not an easy journey, but it’s one that leads to profound fulfillment and inner peace. The true essence of living is not merely about seeking comfort but about living in alignment with our inner truth, even when it challenges us to step out of our comfort zone.
About Light Watkins
Light Watkins is a bestselling author, an accomplished meditation teacher, founder of The Shine Movement, and an inspirational keynote speaker and workshop leader. He has delivered over 500 wellness-themed talks around the globe since 2007.