Love the Blue Buddha: Disarm the Ego and Return to Love through Witnessing

BY Parvati

In just over two weeks, on March 15th, my song “I Am Light” will be released on international airwaves and I will share the magical video we created last summer with the world. I am so excited as this will be my first official international release! I hope you are as excited as we are. Please watch and share the teaser video if you have not already. Rishi and I would like to know if you think we should place it under Pop or New Age on iTunes. We would love to hear what you think!
While we continue to move through winter on our way to the light of spring, I would like to share more on the power of willingness to deal with uncomfortable feelings that sometimes accompany drab, cold days.
The truth is, the ego gets high from inflating painful feelings into absolutes. It is as though the sweeping statements of “I am unloved” or “I am a failure” actually satisfy our ego in some way. When it gets inflated, it propels us away from the present moment.
Why do we do this, when it only leaves us feeling more disconnected and unloved? The ego’s drama becomes a way to hide from something in this moment that we fear is too painful to deal with.
Starting with honest articulation of uncomfortable feelings, as I mentioned last week, helps to keep the ego from blowing them up into devastating absolutes. Such honesty brings with it the light of empowering clarity that fuels incredible personal growth and freedom.
If you are truly willing to rest in the love that is here right now, you will find the courage to open and meet this moment with honesty. When you notice that your ego is triggered and starting to inflate a situation into devastating absolutes, you may wish to ask yourself, “What is so threatening or uncomfortable to my ego in this moment that I would rather blow it up than be just be present for it?”
By asking yourself this question, you send love to that which the ego is masking. You welcome that scared, broken, unloved part of yourself into your heart. You rest in the love that already is. You willingly open to this moment that contains within it the potential for permanent freedom from suffering.
Challenging the internal voices that keep you feeling disconnected is a powerful way to rest in the love that already is. You see that the things you thought were so solid and all pervasive are in fact, just a passing attachment, something you have bought into. The great news about realizing that your attachments are just things you have bought into, is that it means you can let them go. How exciting and empowering! If your ego’s voices come up and say otherwise, go back to working the “is this true?” question until you feel a total yes! in letting go of these limiting thoughts. Once you completely understand that they are illusions, you will no longer feel that they have value. Then, you naturally let them go.
When you become willing, you can receive the gifts that any uncomfortable thoughts or emotions bring. In so doing, you transform what once seemed like lead into precious gems of wisdom and compassion. You receive these gifts when you witness the ways your psyche is attached to pain, such as the payoffs you would get if you bought into your ego’s inflated voice.
When you truly understand that the twists and turns of the ego are illusions – however real they may seem – you can see the knee-jerk impulses to feel lousy about yourself as simply the dance of the ego – a cosmic trickster that does not see life with clarity. You can see the voice that says “I suck” as an attempt to play into your ego’s illusions and keep you feeling small, separate from the love that already is.
Now, you don’t believe the ego’s play. The giggle that echoes in the Buddha’s belly grows in yours too, because you know these thoughts are illusions. You know that any notion of being separate from the love that already is only brings you suffering. You can witness your ego at play. You can watch it do its desiring, inflated dance, without attachment, reaction, narration, or judgement. You feel loved. You know you are love. You are the love that already is.
Take every opportunity you can to rest in the love that already is and challenge your ego’s tendency to inflate situations and turn them against you.
The meditation practice known as witnessing provides powerful insights into the ways in which we are attached to our perceptions. It has shown me the parameters of my active ego with extraordinary clarity. Witnessing has provided lasting shifts in the way I think and perceive. It has helped me move from being attached to painful thoughts, to living with greater freedom and joy.
Witnessing is an essential part of any sincere meditator’s practice. It is at the heart of yoga and spiritual development. Witnessing is not the same as observing. Because witnessing is rooted in non-attachment, it flowers from the understanding that our senses are limited and do not contain the full picture of reality. Our perceptions are temporary, as they change with circumstance and are subject to our moods and whims. What and how we perceive is coloured by the ups and downs of our ego’s dramas.
Through witnessing practice, we meet the moment as it is, without any overlay of how we want it to be. This occurs when we move beyond our attachments to our perceptions, which happens only once we understand that they are not the whole truth. There is a substratum, a deeper unchanging truth, that runs beyond our senses.
Observing is not witnessing. When we observe, we are still attached to what we experience through a running narrative. For example, when we observe a flower, we see it for its colours and size and empirical qualities. Our mind may come up with a story for it, such as a memory of similar flowers in a garden behind our childhood home, or getting flowers like it from a past love. Through this, feelings related to our memories – nostalgia, grief, resentment – may arise. Those emotional associations are then projected onto the flower, which has nothing to do with them.
When we witness, no story accompanies the moment. In the case of witnessing a flower, we would meet the flower’s essence as it is, and harmoniously be there with it. We can note its colour, shape, smell, but there is nothing more that comes with it. The flower simply is, and so are we.
It is easy to confuse witnessing with being numbed out, indifferent or disconnected. When we are in a state of witnessing, we are fully present and rest in a deeper substratum beyond our perceptions. When this happens, life turns from monochrome to technicolour. We feel more connected, more alive, more engaged with life, because we are no longer bound by our limited perceptions, that are coloured by our ego. Even situations that once were painful for us become light and effervescent. Through witnessing comes tremendous spacious vitality. Witnessing feels rooted, vital and expansive. Like a new consciousness muscle, the more we practice witnessing, the more freedom we experience.
I share an incident when witnessing provided me with tremendous grace. I was around someone who decided I was the source of her unhappiness. As I practiced witnessing, I saw her pain. I was with it as it was. It felt like a mass floating in space in front of me. Remaining in a witnessing state, her upset did not become against me, for me or about me in any way. Nor was it really about her. I saw her pain. I knew that pain, because I too have felt suffering. From where I was standing, we were both resting in the perfect now. Her pain came from her attachment to not seeing the love that is here right now. The greatest gift I could give us both was resting in that reality without any agenda. Eventually her mood shifted like a storm that passed through a sunny sky.
Being able to be present for the fullness of life is one of the blessings gained through witnessing. The skill grows through practice. I like to this of it as going to the daily meditation gym. The more time you put into the practice, the more benefit, joy and freedom you gain.
Start your witnessing practice today. Take a few minutes each morning and evening to come to a neutral place, where you can allow yourself just to be. This alone can take practice when you are habituated to doing and wanting life to go your way. But that habit creates tremendous strain, tension and unhappiness. Freedom and joy are only found when you rest into the whole and flow in harmony with the rhythm of life. Nature’s power is so much greater than your limited ego or will, no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise.
Find a quiet place. Sit on something solid like a bench, chair or floor, with your spine straight, with the intention of just being. Breathe in and out for a few minutes. Simply focus on your breath. Let your body settle into being right and now, exactly where you are, on your cushion or chair. Allow your spine to take root through your seat, feeling the weight of your body, and your connection to the ground. Feel the crown of your head float, noticing your upward connection to the cosmos. Let your spine feel like a neutral conduit of energy between these two points. Breathe in and out.
When you mind wanders, bring it back to your breath. When you breathe in, simply say to yourself, “in”. When you breathe out, simply say, “out”. No big effort. No big drama. Just one breath at a time, in and out.
Should you notice thoughts arise, just say hello, welcome them in. Let them be there with you, rather than getting pulled into them. For example, should you notice the thought that your shoulders are tense, welcome the thought as though it just joined you in your inner living room. It may take a seat beside you. It may come and then quickly leave out the door. Either way, it does not matter. You remain sitting, breathing in and out. Breathe in, say “in”. Breathe out, say “out”.
The practice remains the same, whether you welcome tense shoulders or painful thoughts. Make room for it all, without getting entangled in any of it. Rest in your breathing and allow yourself to expand into the now. Practice this as often as you can.
Until next time,
Love yourself.
Love others.
Love our world.
We are ONE Earth family.