• Casey McKinley

Our shell is built to be shed



We arrive in this world soft, pliable and fluid. We can be molded to survive in any environment.


Our adaptability makes us weak, fragile and vulnerable. We are fully reliant on our caregivers to provide for us and to protect us.


From our first breath, we are instinctually driven to grow from the ease and helplessness of full protection to the difficulty and responsibility of self-reliance.


We naturally know how to learn. We grow through exploration and play, through trial and error, through frustration and elation.


We form an understanding of the world, and our place in it, by viewing our current experiences through the lens of our past experiences.


Our understanding is built layer by layer through the comparison and classification of our experiences. With time, what was once fluid and weak becomes strong and calcified.


Through this process, we create a fortified and beautiful shell that makes us spectacularly successful at surviving in our environment.


Building our shell required us to give up our growth for comfort, our freedom for security and our expression for stability.


But our shell is heavy. Under the force of its increasing weight, our breath grows shorter and shallower as our vital power struggles for air. We feel the suffocation of this force as an unexplainable void and as endless craving.


We're suffocating because we're built for something far greater than survival. Our protective shell that taught us how to survive is no longer needed.


We must shed it to be born again into the expanse of our best self. Our rebirth returns us to our original state -- soft, pliable and fluid -- adaptable.


We shed our shells layer by layer by unlearning.


We unlearn the same way we learned as children through exploration and play, through trial and error, through frustration and elation.


Only this time, we intentionally stop the pattern of comparing our current experiences to the past. This pattern limits us, separates us, hardens us.


Now that we're learning in a world without boundaries, we are open to the full spectrum of experience: strength and adaptability, growth and comfort, freedom and security, expression and stability.


Shedding our shell requires us to develop the courage and discipline to practice Beginner's Mind. Here, we endeavor to see an experience as if it were the first time by letting go of the expectations and comparisons formed by our past.


Beginner's Mind is humbling. We learn that there is very little that we actually know. We realize that we don't even know the basics, such as how to stand up properly. But, we also know that it is ok. Had we never begun the practice of Beginner's Mind, we would be destined to stand incorrectly forever and suffer the consequences of misalignment without knowing why. Now that we can see the truth, we can choose to stand however we like.

"To the dull mind all nature is leaden. To the illumined mind the whole world sparkles with light."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

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