LOVING MYSELF AND THE WORLD BEYOND CONDITION
The choices you make right now, based on how you choose to perceive this moment, are literally creating your future.
This month’s Parvati Magazine explores the theme Equilibrium. My article “Finding Balance In Relationships” looks at how our core beliefs affect how we perceive and therefore choose to interact with the world. As often is the case when I share, I get immediate opportunity to put my teachings into practice. I feel this happens because the universe is the ultimate compassionate teacher. It lovingly makes sure that I am walking the talk and serving to my utmost by presenting me with many life lessons that support my growth.
This week, I had an encounter with someone through which my feelings were hurt. As I processed my experience, I discovered that some of my core beliefs needed revision. So I went within and took stock of how I choose to perceive life, asking myself if I am living in unattached truthfulness or projecting and validating my assumptions onto the world. I also went back to review my blog posts that celebrate the power of the divine feminine, a five part series written in December 2013 through January 2014. If you have not yet read them, they are pretty juicy and worth exploring.
When I first touched the newly discovered core beliefs, I found that I held a perception of being personally powerless in some areas of my life. In seeing this, my immediate reaction was self-disgust. “What me? No way!” passed through my mind as my ego held onto the notion of a precious little “me”. But in relaxing in the face of what I perceived to be an ugly beast within me, I came to meet no monster. I found instead a broken lamb-like little girl who needed my loving attention and care.
As I listened to the stories the child had to tell, I was asked to welcome my own feelings as they were presented to me right then and there. I sat with it all in presence, without the need to fix, judge, push or pull at what was. I said to myself, “So it is. So it is,” and breathed myself into greater wholeness. In newfound inner space, self-compassion arose effortlessly. In its sweetness, an inner fight melted away.
Welcoming this broken inner child into my heart by accepting her as I found her, I started to feel that a disowned part of me was being brought home. I became more whole. In the healing process, the energy that had been caught up in my outdated beliefs were set free so that it could shine in more creative and healthy ways.
I fully realized that my choice to perceive myself as powerless had been reflected back to me in the painful situation and the hurt feelings I had experienced. The irony of it all – and the source of the a-ha moment I had that was my healing breakthrough – were that the painful encounter with this person was caused by my finding her expression of feeling incapable and powerless to be intolerable. I was brought face to face with what my guru Amma teaches as one of the essential steps for spiritual growth: “If someone is doing something that you find really offensive, check to see whether you are doing something similar to someone else or yourself.”
I came to see that I was uncomfortable and triggered by the other person’s painful actions because I had not yet accepted ways in which I was similarly hurting deep down. Though this person’s behaviour was technically hurtful, I only felt hurt because I identified in that moment with being small and disconnected.
SAYING “YES” TO THIS MOMENT AS IT IS
The morning of the incident, I did as I do everyday and pulled an Amma challenge card (like an Angel or Nature card) for extra guidance after my meditation practice. (As a side note, I never use Tarot cards as I find their energy astral, murky, tricky and unclear.) The Amma card read: “Today, I remember that I am not the mind. I am the Atman (Self).” (Atman is the Sanskrit word for the eternal, undivided soul that is one with the divine.) And that was what the painful experience showed me that day. The encounter with someone in pain highlighted the ways in which I was attached to the small me, busy defending the passing and the temporal as I mistook it for my true infinite nature. So I suffered. If I had been able to be more present and see more clearly in the moment of the exchange – and not through the lens of my preconceptions, wounds and core beliefs – I would have only seen a broken person expressing her own feeling of powerlessness, rather than someone who was doing something “to” me.
After I had been hurt, I meditated for some time and then prayerfully asked for guidance on the situation. I pulled another Amma card, which read: “Today I identify some of the behaviours that create obstacles to my spiritual growth.” My mind wanted to dismiss the card as a mistake as surely the other person was at fault.
After I had self-righteously decided that the card was letting me know that the other person was the obstacle to my path, my ego/mind went on a little journey trying to blame and avoid seeing my part in the whole. Luckily, that only went so far, as I know that any sense of life is “happening to me” is unreal and a delusional manufacturing of the ego in order to sustain itself. All that I was left with was the need to look at myself more deeply and discover what the situation was teaching me.
I rested in what I know to be true: I am no victim in life. No one has power over me unless I give it to her. Then I got it: my perception was the obstacle that the card pointed to! Until I finally accepted that I was seeing myself as powerless, I was unable to be present for the ways in which she felt the same. Prior to this revelation, I was unable to remain a present witness to her expression, and instead co-created in the expression of her pain.
MOMENT TO MOMENT GIFTS
For most of us, it can be a knee-jerk tendency to say to ourselves “I don’t want to feel that”, and either tuck uncomfortable emotions away somewhere convenient (like in a tense neck, shoulders or belly) or attempt to splatter them all over another person or thing we want to discard. Unconsciously justifying our avoidance in dread that life circumstances will prove our deep fears true, it is easy to turn a blind eye to what we don’t want to see. Yet when we resist the moment, we miss the opportunity to meet our true, fuller self beyond what we perceive.
My experience with this person is one example of the many daily gifts we all receive from the universe (some painful, some joyful, others neither) that teaches us how to free ourselves from our limited perceptions and be present for what really is. When we do so, we flower into love that knows we are one. Through this experience, I am becoming more whole on my journey to my true home.
I feel both humbled and empowered to acknowledge that I am still learning to meet what is in this moment with equanimity and compassion rather than with judgment or prejudice. The painful encounter I had gave me the opportunity to see and eventually accept ways in which I’ve felt powerless in my life, ways in which I’ve given my power away. I became aware that I was holding onto outdated core beliefs that did not serve anyone but only cause suffering to others and to myself.
I can now feel gratitude for the person whose actions I found so offensive, who I felt was so “wrong”. That person was acting out unconscious pain, her own unseen, broken parts she too had disowned and will someday be called to integrate, love and heal through presence. This person was not only a clear mirror to my own pain, but a teacher in showing me how to love the world and myself beyond condition.