A Non-Dual approach to life. Can we live beyond our habitual and egoic conditioning?
If our awakening is going to be thorough; it has to include everything! We cannot reject any part of ourselves….
Being Willing. Being Free.
If we want to change and grow we have to be willing. We have to be willing to see all the difficult parts of ourselves with honestly. Not only do we need to be able to see them. We need to be willing to be fully open to them. And we need to be open with all of ourselves; that includes being willing to feel these places within us; not just think about these places.
Most people are somewhat okay with seeing a difficult emotion or pattern within themselves. But when asked to actually feel and experience those emotions, most turn away and find anything else to do. But if we want an emotion or some deep pattern within us to change or transform, we have to be willing to give it our full attention. To be Free means that we are not going to hide from anything; especially, the difficult and painful parts of ourselves. We have to be fully willing to meet them with love and compassion.
But meeting ourselves with love and compassion can be difficult or confusing for most of us. Often when I meet with someone, and ask them if they are willing to meet themselves from this place, feelings of unworthiness or not knowing how arise. I love to use the image of the good parent. “How would a good parent meet us in our pain and confusion?” I ask. Would they stand 10 feet away and give us a lecture about being loving to ourselves, or would they pick us up and put us in their lap and hold a deep space of love for our pain. And so this is our work, to be willing to sit with the pain, feel it fully, and meet it with a universal friendliness; experience it without pushing it away or running from it. This is not work we do in our heads from some sort of psychological perspective; this deep pain lives in our bodies, so we must be willing to sit with the emotional pain in our bodies. And as we begin to sit with it, feel it and experience it; the pain may actually get worse or louder for some time.
And at this moment, we have a choice, to sit deeper and begin to let go or to listen to the story about why this should or shouldn’t have happened, (or whatever the thoughts and beliefs are around the pain) and hold on. This is where most people go, away from the pain and into their thinking minds. And because of this, the pain does not get a chance to move, transform or release. It would be like a child who was hurt at school, and the parent began a conversation with why the child shouldn’t be crying or why life shouldn’t happen, instead of holding and embracing the child. Often deep healing doesn’t takes place, if we aren’t able to feel the pain, to walk through the doorway of grief, fully experience it and come into our own Strength, Beauty and Wholeness, that becomes clearer after we let go.
But being free does not only mean that we are able to be open and honest with all the difficult parts of ourselves. It also means that we are willing to see our own Beauty and Spaciousness as well. And a funny thing happens, when most people look at their own Beauty and Spaciousness; they become scared. Scared because they never knew this to be themselves. Or scared because they know this is the Truth of themselves, and if they are going to live from that place they must give up all the silliness of their own minds (all their thoughts and opinions, about themselves and others). Or scared because it is something totally new; and most people are really scared of something new. Especially being somebody new or for the first time truly being themselves.
The biggest fear is that in embodying this Beauty, that we will somehow disappear or lose who we are. It is true in a sense that there will be a death; a death of the ego as the fore front of our consciousness. It will be the death of our false ideas about ourselves. And in the end, the ego will certainly still be there, but it will take the back seat to this Beauty and Spacious Consciousness that we are. And this is a whole different way of being.
The invitation of yoga is to live as Unity.
And to accept this invitation, we must be willing to radically step beyond our egoic conditioning; which is an audacious task. We will never get beyond our limited sense of self without the practice and discipline of questioning our mind; how it works, how it operates and processes information and expresses itself in the world. If we are going to live in unity; as an expression of unity, then we must give up our divisive tendencies and movement of our minds.
So we begin to ask questions like, “can we live beyond judgements and limited perspectives?” This is quite a radical stance from the perspective of the egoic mind. One of the main jobs of the mind is to define the world. And as long as we continue to give our mind permission, it will continue to put the world in a box. And we will continue to live in the trance of our self created dualistic virtual reality. And this reality is the world of good and bad, right and wrong, black and white. Our mind does this in order to keep us safe; and that is all that matters to our ego. Its’ job is to keep us safe. But if we want to be free, we must be willing to go beyond who we think we are. We need to go beyond the safety and security created by the insistence on keeping the world packaged up in a safe little box.
What if, when we walked into a room instead of labeling this person beautiful and that person ugly, this person safe and that person bad; we walked into a room and saw Unity.
What if we saw things for what they are in their totality. What if we resisted the urge to comment on each and every person. I know that I have walked into yoga class and quickly scanned the room and allowed my mind to comment on each individual. As I sat there, I experienced my own pettiness. And I grabbed a seat in the back, so no one would judge how unflexible I am. (I am usually the most unflexible person in the room). As long as I give into my judgments of others or judgments of myself; I become very small inside. Isn’t this our experience?
Fortunately for me, I have studied with a teacher who always saw the best in me. His vision of me came from a hugeness of compassion. He looked at me from a place beyond the mind, and was able to see my Divinity. And through years of being reminded of my own innate goodness, something opened beyond my mind. And I received this gift of being able to see and experience this Divinity in unimaginable ways.
And this is the invitation of Yoga. To allow our judgmental mind to break open into a mind that does not have a perspective; that does not see the world in black and white, beyond duality. From the perspective of our limited thinking minds this is impossible. And that’s what the invitation is to be and realize. It comes from joining the impossible; stepping out of the mind and not into a different part of our mind, but actually out of the mind and into a vision that is beyond the mind. Imagine looking into the mirror and seeing Beauty; not beauty defined by Glamourmagazine, but a deeper, richer, Divinity pouring out of your own eyes. Imagine walking into a room of people and seeing Beauty pouring out of everyone. Imagine walking outside and seeing the vastness of the sky and the radiance of Life in everything. It is quite a different reality.
Of course there is a time and a place for our egoic judgmental vision. If you feel unsafe, leave the situation; this is wisdom. If someone looks creepy, stay away from them. Evolution, Life, God (whatever you want to call it) has worked hard to give us a mind that keeps us safe. But for most of us this mind is working on overdrive, constantly putting the world in a box of good and bad, right and wrong, us and them. What if we stepped out of this. Just like when we lay in Chavasana or corpse pose, we are not judging anyone. We are laying and resting in our own Beauty and radiance. But this vision does not need to stop when our teacher says Namaste. This vision is actually here all the time, if we allow it. How would our life change if we stepped out of our conditioned mind and into our Hugeness. What would happen if we relaxed into our Beauty, how would we see the world? Who would we become?