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Twenty Two year old Liam Neufeld arrived at the ashram in November ’07. Since then he has willingly taken on challenges so he can grow stronger. Part of this is learning about what commitment means to him.
I have been here at the Ashram for the last three months and in my stay I have uncovered many things about myself. Initially I was asked what some of my ideals were and what I’d like to get out of my experience here. All I knew was I wanted to know more about myself, so I decided to commit my time until May 2008 and challenge myself, as you will see in the following.
Developing concentration is a key for me. When I was very young I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. I have often used that as an excuse. I would say to myself, “I can’t do it, I have a learning disability.” Now I want to get rid of all the excuses. I have learned that I am not my learning disability, and have realized that I do not need to identify with it. It is something that was put on me at an early age. I can decide to let go of it now!
Over the past months I have been working to develop my concentration through the practices here. This soon developed into small one-week or so commitments. Soon I discovered the connection between concentration, commitment and confidence. I saw that I cannot feel confident with myself if I never complete anything. There’s no room for a feeling of accomplishment, self-worth or confidence to grow in me.
I very shortly after this became aware that when I have been resistant to doing the same task over and over, it is another sign of me not committing to something. Sort of like another excuse.
My first week of working with concentration I took three very good questions to reflect on: What distracted me today? What was behind my urge to speak? Where did I feel confident today? Within a week of this exercise I was concentrating and focusing on my work more confidently. I wasn’t distracted as easily and wasn’t chatting as much.
Each week I made a new commitment: mantra chanting one week, going to hatha class every morning another week, and for the past couple of weeks I’ve been practising silence.
Through my chanting exercise I learned not to make things to easy for myself. I realized that in order to learn I had to challenge myself.
Getting up early is a struggle for me so I committed to morning hatha and the results were astonishing. I changed the excuse in my mind from “I’ll be to tired later in the day” to “this is really going to help me, physically and mentally,” and it did.
Another great challenge I gave myself was silence because I’m a bit of a talker. Through this I discovered what was behind what I was saying to others and myself. I also discovered I have a friend inside that is there to help me. This was a great relief!
Part of my struggle has been keeping focused on the work I am doing. I started working preparing the breakfast cart, which requires concentration in the busy kitchen. This has been a great challenge but I like it because I have to be aware of what I’m doing and what is going on around me.
Basically what I’m trying to say is this: if I commit to something, extraordinary things can happen when I set my mind to it. If I hadn’t had the confidence that I’ve built through doing these exercises and practices, then I don’t think I would have been able to write this article with such confidence.
Now I know, if I put my mind to it, I can accomplish anything.