Once I’d glimpsed the Truth about my Self—gotten just a taste of the inherent power I have to create the experience of my life that I want—it radically changed my perception. Suddenly (it seemed), I cracked open. Love flowed out of me and washed over my family, my life situations, my challenges, and even the laundry. I looked at myself in the mirror and literally saw a different reflection. I’ve hated my body since age 9 or 10, but now I looked in the mirror and saw a beautiful, living embodiment. I smiled at my wrinkles and sagging and non-perfection. The miracle of being born a human! It was an ecstatic feeling; not just happiness, but joy. I wanted to shout like MAD TV’s Stewart: Look what I can do! And when I looked at my children, all I could see was the light in THEM, shooting out all over. Kids! We talk about that energy they have and it’s the pure, unfiltered, dynamic, creative force of the Universe.
I could see clearly when I needed to take action and when I did not; I had no story. I didn’t have to do this because I felt this way (or because someone else did), or because this always happens, or whatever. I could discriminate. Life suddenly seemed easy, simple. I had more energy. I just did things. For at least a week, I was able to eject those old tapes, the deeply held beliefs that no longer served me and clouded my view of things as they are.
I looked at my husband and really saw him, maybe for the first time. A mess in the mudroom was just a mess in the mudroom. Piss on the toilet seat was just piss to be cleaned up. Changing the sheets was just changing the sheets. Setting boundaries for the kids around screen time (and listening to their loud, angry, rude objections) was just that. I thought—Holy shit. This freedom thing is real! And it’s accessible whenever I want it. Nothing else in my life had changed; there were no conditions for this joy. It.Blew.My.Mind.
Then, I got bored.
It set in slowly and insidiously. At first, it was restlessness. I was having a hard time concentrating. I got cranky. Then the old tapes started creeping back in, like smoke from a smoldering fire coming in under the door. The stream of judgments. The self-hate speech. But this time, the messages were so, so subtle, I almost missed what was going on.
What was going on?
It took me a while to figure this out. In the meantime, I started down the familiar road of suffering. I started down the road of anger and hopelessness. I went down the only fucking road I’ve ever known… [Cue the Whitesnake rock anthem.]
During my week of living from a more open, connected place, my ego started to freak out. It was all like, “What??” When I was simply experiencing things as they were, doing what I needed to do (or not), there was no drama. It was smooth. My emotions rolled along, but I didn’t grab onto them, or try to push them away. The thing is that I’m addicted to the usual drama, or really, my ego and mind are addicted. Without it, my ego was starting to realize that it might CEASE TO EXIST. That I might cease to exist! And that scared the shit out of me/my ego. As a quote on the wall of my yoga studio says, “Enlightenment is the ego’s biggest disappointment.”
What is my ego? It’s separation between me as the subject and everything else out there as the object of my perception. It’s two instead of one: “me” and “my life.” When I felt connected and open, I walked around acting and thinking: “I am.” Just being. But usually, I (we) operate in the world from my ego’s perspective, thinking: “I am … this, that, and the other thing.” And if my ego is the subject—the actor on the stage, thinking I’m manipulating the scene, the “things” of my life—then everything “out there” that is not who I think I am, or what my ego thinks it needs to be “fulfilled,” can be discarded. Thrown away. Or openly resisted against or criticized. The next logical step for my ego is to put itself, and it’s separate, special needs, above everything and everyone else. I’m not just talking about narcissists here. We (I) do this every day, whether we recognize it or not. This is where anger, impatience, fear and judgment come from.
I got bored and restless because, when I was resting in a space of wholeness, my ego’s incessant needs were no longer being met. But that’s the ego’s MO: it always feels incomplete so it looks outside to fulfill its needs.
I was bored because my ego did not want what was happening to be happening. Where was the drama? The excitement? Why was I not spinning those stories that I usually did? My ego, and its accomplice the mind, were trying to convince me that One-ness was bullshit. That it was the illusion. I know it sounds insane, but our ego is hell-bent on maintaining the status quo, even if that status quo sucks and feels awful. As another quote says, “The ego, our limited consciousness, likes to be comfortable in its suffering.”
Comfortable in our suffering.
And the cycle begins. The moment of forgetting, of noticing the boredom and the desire to turn outside again and again for fulfillment, is the moment we can either decide to go inward instead—or snuggle back down into our big heavy down comforter of suffering.
Which led me to this: Who am I if I am not my ego? If I am not my stories and my striving? My “issues” and my emotions? My past? My body? And if I believe that I am already whole and complete, then how do I live in the world without my ego? How does that work?
I was quickly finding that my mind wasn’t the best tool for answering these questions. I needed another way and to take this advice (from a badly paraphrased quote):
“You’ve already been hard like a stone. Why not try something different?”