When you really get right down to it, anytime an unpleasant feeling arises and you choose to delve deeper into that feeling by pausing and asking yourself ‘why?’ again and again as you uncover each layer, you begin to discover that the ego’s attachment to pleasure and aversion to pain are the cause of all your suffering. It’s that simple. And it’s also that difficult.
While it sometimes feels like it could be a more relaxed existence, I’m not suggesting we should try to completely rid our Selves of our human egos. (The word ‘ego’ has gotten a bad rap in today’s spiritual studies, but if you go to http://www.dictionary.com, you’ll see that it has synonyms like ‘self-esteem’ and ‘self-image,’ which feel like much kinder definitions!) It does serve its purpose, in my opinion; however, I also think we would benefit from taking ourselves a LOT less seriously and remembering that we don’t have to let the ego be in the driver’s seat of our lives. I believe we need to become the Observer more often – by paying attention when we feel angry, sad, jealous, hurt, etc. We don’t run away from it. Instead, we sit with it, we accept it. We say, ‘Okay, let’s see what this is all about.’ We take a breath, noticing where we feel that sensation in our bodies and what it feels like. We ask ourselves ‘why’ and challenge the dramatic little story the ego wants us to believe about this feeling. Is this real? Is this true? We remind ourselves that in this very moment, we are okay. Then, we let it go. I like to envision blowing it away like the seeds of a dandelion.
My yoga teacher touched on this very idea last night during a particularly difficult part of class: ‘Surrender to the energy traveling through your body without trying to define it. It isn’t pain. It isn’t nausea. It isn’t anything until we label it as such. Let the energy travel through you and simply be a vessel.’
Wanting things to be different than they are makes no sense, and yet I do it every day when things aren’t going the way I want. How often do YOU cause yourself more pain by trying to control, wrestle and contort the people and circumstances in your life into what you want them to be? What would happen if we let go of that weight on our shoulders and accepted each and every moment exactly as it is without the need to label it as good or bad? Can it simply just be? And why do I think things should be the way that I (think I) want them to be? Are my wants and needs any more important than anyone else’s? How often do I actually know what I really want anyway? There have been plenty of times when I got exactly what I wanted, only to find out it wasn’t what I wanted at all.
In the documentary The Buddha, Robert Thurman (Uma’s dad!) says with a gentle smile and a twinkle in his eye, something like, ‘If you’re sad? Just wait. If you’re happy? Just wait. If you’re angry, just wait.’ I find it tremendously helpful to remind myself of this simple truth and keep a sense of humor about how fleeting ALL my thoughts are. Not every single one of my feelings has to be acted upon; nor does it have to be labeled as good or bad. Just beautiful. All of it. Because I’m here. I’m living. I’m learning.
In his book Falling Into Grace, Adyashanti says, ‘As we begin to see that the arguments we have with life are a form of insanity, and how egoic consciousness keeps us in suffering, cracks may begin to appear in this old relationship we have with the way we see the world. Our reference for happiness no longer comes from the outside world. It doesn’t even come from our inner experience being a particular way; a sense of natural ease and happiness is there simply because we’ve opened entirely to the way things actually are.’
Are you ready to open to each and every beautiful moment in your life? Let’s do it together.
Happy New Year!