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Holly Sidell Headshot

Finding Yourself in Los Angeles

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When are you ever just with yourself? Sounds like a silly question, right? I mean, we're always with ourselves, every single moment of every single day. Yes, true, but when are you REALLY with yourself? Not doing anything, not rushing around with plans and agendas, but really just sitting with who you are? Not while doing yoga or listening to music. Just being with yourself with no distractions. This is the only way to get to know who you really are, and what you really believe in and stand for. This is the only way to become your own best friend.

I am just really learning this for myself right now. My own counselor and coach gave me this assignment: go into nature everyday for 20-30 minutes and just sit with yourself. My reply was, "oh, ok, and meditate." Um, nope. "Oh, ok, then you mean, like journal and stuff?" Nope. I was confused." You mean, just do nothing? "Yes," he said, "be still." Interesting... I realized that even when we meditate we have an "agenda" of sorts, and we are still "doing" something. But being still, just being there with yourself, doing nothing, is scary and vulnerable. It leaves us exposed. We have nothing to keep us busy or distract us from our thoughts.

Los Angeles is very conducive to putting on fronts and masks. It is very important to be seen a certain way here. Image is everything. Unfortunately, most of us start to believe these masks we put on and lose the true essence of who we are. We lose touch with our authentic self. Our authentic self is always there. It doesn't go away. It just becomes covered with layers and layers of stories we like to tell ourselves and others so that we are perceived in a certain way. And by constantly being busy, we just add more layers... we keep ourselves so busy that we don't have time anymore to look at what's underneath the layers. This is why, one day, we all wake up and we just feel lost. We don't know who we are anymore, what we want, what we stand for. But here's the good news: It's all still there!! Your truth is still there, just covered up. Like for example, when the sun gets covered with clouds and the sky becomes incredibly dark - the sun is still there, it didn't disappear, it's just covered up. But once the clouds are removed, we see the light of the sun again! It never went away. Just like your true, authentic self. It never goes away, no matter what. It just gets covered up. And I have been learning to find it, to remove the layers and masks, and it isn't as complicated or hard as one might think. It takes a little bit of discipline to schedule the time each day (or every other day) to be with yourself in nature. But once you're there, you're there. And all you do is sit in stillness. Breathe in the air, smell the flowers, listen to the birds, watch the squirrels play. Of course, all sorts of thoughts will come up. But just let them, that's ok and natural. Don't ignore them or fight them, just let them come up. Once they come up, they're gone... I know it sounds like a silly, simple practice. But I have experienced quite miraculous results from it. I actually crave this nature time alone with myself. I look forward to it. And I have been rediscovering who I truly am and what really matters to me, and what I stand for. It's been fascinating.

I encourage you to try it. My favorite places to do this exercise so far have been at The Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, the waterfall at the top of the Temescal Canyon hike, and of course, the beach. Anywhere I can watch the ocean. Sitting on a bench on the stretch of grass on Ocean Ave overlooking the ocean is nice too. Sometimes my schedule doesn't allow a full on excursion, so I found a nice little tree and patch of grass with flowers just a block down from where I live, so I go there. If you have found other places where you enjoy doing this exercise and would be willing to share it with myself and others, I'd love to hear about it! Please leave a comment, or feel free to email it to me directly.

Now go... sit with yourself... discover yourself... you may really dig who you are!! Isn't it ironic that to "find" yourself, you don't actually have to go anywhere at all? Everything that you are is already right inside of you. It's just about removing the layers to get to it.