For a long time, I thought being right would make me happy. Finding the right answer to my questions. Solving the riddle and being rewarded with health, wealth, and happiness.
I sought the answers in spiritual ways, in nutritional ways, in many aspects of my life. As soon as I’d found the thing I thought had to finally “be IT” I’d get so excited. The interesting thing is, as soon as I thought I’d found it, before I’d hardly begun, before I’d even begun mastering it, I’d preach it. I’d want to shout it from the rooftops. I also thought probably everyone would benefit from incorporating the IT into their lives.
When I became interested in meditation and started taking classes, sitting and meditating was like pulling teeth. Yet I thought everyone ought to be doing it. In fact, sometimes I forgot I wasn’t, simply because I was mistaking knowing something with doing it.
I thought about meditation and its benefits all the time. Wait, you mean, that doesn’t count?
The more I thought about it, built it up in mind as something that was so beneficial and amazing, the more ammunition I had against myself because, well, I knew about it, and yet did nothing. I lamented my inability to effectively execute what was right.
Same story with nutrition. I’ve been all over the board. It was all meant to be my salvation, the thing that would end my digestive troubles and bring me closer to Light and Love. I preached the gospel of nutritional health. And yet…I wasn’t cured. I still had acne. I still had digestive issues. I was still so scared I would always have these issues. My food became a battlefield. What was going to hurt me today?
Finally, I maxed out. I was on information overload. I no longer wanted to fervently seek answers, get all in a tizzy about them, try them and yet never did anything feel like THE ANSWER. For so long I thought that had to exist. Other people had that, didn’t they? A system or religion or diet or SOMETHING where they didn’t have to fake it. Where it felt natural. Where they could totally adhere to it and find enlightenment. Right?
At a certain point, I had to stop caring about other people. I had tried doing things perfectly. And you know what? It wasn’t working. This isn’t to say I was unhappy. My quest for the RIGHT thing brought me to many amazing places. Exposed me to wonderful things and people I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise. Introduced me to different skills, concepts, approaches. All of which I still appreciate and am endlessly grateful for.
But…still. I wasn’t getting the miraculous effects I’d been promised. I wasn’t a variable that could be predictably tweaked. And even deeper than that, I was investing in a system of giving away my own power. Of believing I couldn’t trust myself, that I had to listen to an authority figure, an expert, anyone but myself. Anything but my intuition.
After I felt like I’d tried everything, I overturned the last stone. Myself. Listening to myself. Tuning in to my own body. Trusting it. Learning how to speak with it. Mostly, learning how to listen. I started loving myself, unabashedly. I wasn’t following any strict programs. I wasn’t restricting any food or forcing myself to exercise. I was pouring compassion into myself like a fountain. I began to relax. Worries and frustration that had plagued me now gently released.
My body felt lighter. My digestion and skin improved. I felt confident. I felt excited to play, to learn, to expand, to grow.
And yet, I experienced some major growing pains, too. Previously, I had developed ego attachments to my skills of analysis and intellectualization. I had used them in every approach. I thought I was really successful in “figuring it out” for myself and for others. In sizing up a situation and what that situation and the people in it needed. I had been the detached therapist, poised, ready to give you a deep insight and the right answer.
At a certain point, I realized that Love is the root of it all. Love. Not analysis. Not intellectualization. Not figuring it out. Not finding the right answer.
I felt sucker punched. Where was my sense of worth? What good was I without these? Even though these “skills” hadn’t been serving me to my highest happiness, I was still so attached to them. Simply the habit of believing I should value them and needed them to live was enough to make me so sad to release them.
With time, my relationship to my previous afflictions (acne and digestion issues) changed a lot. I became more grateful for them. I also knew that though I’d mostly released them, I was still hanging on to having them. This may sound strange. However, we all have attachments to our own ailments. If we had no attachments, they’d have no business being there.
Recently, I had a sort of past-life flashback. Not to a coherent understanding or exact explanation of a past life, but more like an emotional one. I suddenly felt that in the past I was a spiritual student and teacher, that I devoted much of my life to the spiritual path, but that I let my ego attachments overtake me. Basically, that I got caught up in being a “perfect” portrait of spirituality, and thus felt ashamed of and hid my own human faults. The thing is, though, that it is by SHARING in our own imperfection that we connect and help heal one another!! The idea that we must change in order to be perfect is such a sad statue to worship.
I felt that my ego attachments is something I am meant to work on in this life. That it is part of my soul’s purpose in this embodiment. At that moment, I could understand another aspect of why I had had acne. of why I’d had digestive health issues. I was tarnishing my true self in order to “keep myself in check”. In order to make sure my ego didn’t get too big.
Understanding that working on my ego in this life was important also made me fear that if I did release the skin and digestive issues, that my ego would go wild! If I’m beautiful, if I’m healthy, if I’m energized…will I get totally full of myself? Will I become Narcissus? I legitimately began fearing that. Thus, I thought, subconsciously “Hmmm better to keep myself in check. Better to be uncomfortable and have acne and health problems than repeat past mistakes.”
I now realize I have no need to fear myself. I can trust myself. I’m not some robot will go berserk at random and become an awful, ego-hungry jerk.
I also understand that lovingly directing my attention toward my inclination to ego-swell, and making a conscious effort to CONNECT to all being, in rejoicing in being gloriously imperfect, is very important.
I am ready to embrace my own unabashed success and total happiness. I am ready to release my acne, release my digestive issues. I’m gonna let it shine. I’m ready to embrace my own success and continually connect it with all others. To let abundance know no bounds.
I want to keep this about YOU. I want to keep this about us connecting, not about me “blathering on”. These experiences are shared, not because I think I’m MORE important than you, that my experiences are more interesting, but because I think we’re all trying, we’re all growing, we are all connected. I merely want to remind you of what’s possible. That we’re all in this together.
That it really is all about love. And love just isn’t an ego thing, you know? If you keep bringing it back to love, true, simple pure love, then you’re gonna be OK. Cause love gently vanquishes all ego. Then there is no more comparative value system. Not you’re better than me or I’m better than you but that we’re all one another. We’re all here and it’s completely, entirely beautiful.
“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
― Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times