“It’s in the hands of God, if its my time to die, I will die”, says a man who took his mask off in a grocery shop. A family member told us this is what happened a little while ago, I’m not quite sure if they’ve heard this on the radio or from someone. My first reaction was judgement like everyone in the conversation. After I reacted to the situation with “what about others? what about his responsibility?, I pondered on my behaviour . I won’t discuss whether he had to wear a mask or not here, that is not the point. Who am I to judge anyway?! From a compassionate view, everyone is feeling stressed and trying to cope with the COVID situation in their own way. We all cope with stress in different ways and may be the guy was overwhelmed and had enough of wearing a mask and giving up was his way of relieving his own stress/fear… As I reflected on my reaction, I uncovered two things, 1) My attachment to my Egoic Identity and 2) What does his words means to me?
Our judgement of others is often a reflection of our own issues or insecurities. Judgement comes from the Ego. My Ego was sure to be shining the illusion that I know/am ‘better’ as it made me feel good about myself for that short moment. Eckhart Tolle said, “Whatever you identify with, becomes part of your ego”. It could be an illness that you identify yourself with or it could be your job, a title, your car, your house….In any case we buy in this illusion that our worth is outside of ourselves (its how much we know, how much we achieve, how much people think of us, how much we own…). We believe that our illness/job/title/house/car defines us (I am a coach, I am a teacher, I am anxious, I am depressed, I am rich, I am poor…) . In my case my ego rushed to the fact that this is an opportunity to show to my family what I know, to promote my self-importance. Lisa Romano from whom I decided to title this post “To be or not to be” as I listened to her youtube video on “Transcending Ego and Ending Attachment” describe the ego as the “I” that needs constant validation to feel alive. She mentioned that this behaviour is not our fault but its due to our mind programming due to certain events/situation/challenges that you may have faced in the past.
This led me to think about the challenges in my current profession and working on how I can go back to work without feeling challenged (insert overwhelm, anxiety, self-doubts, sense of lack….) by what is happening in the classroom. I can’t talk about the situation for privacy reasons but I can explain what my thoughts are and how I think I have found a way to free myself without falling apart. By the way, the challenges has nothing to do with me, nothing is being done to me, for me or by me. It just is a challenge that is having an impact on the classroom community as a whole. After listening to Eckhart Tolle (I’ve listened to so many videos, that I can’t remember which one/s exactly), I realised that I have an attachment to my profession. As a teacher, I want everyone to be happy, to be learning and growing and I had a perfect image of the classroom and predicting what the classroom will feel and look like. Well just as the COVID 19 hit us by surprise, a classroom also comes with surprises and unpredictability. We never know what can happen until we are in! (this can be a good thing with the right mindset) But of course we have some control to a degree. However the way our mind is constantly trying to have control over everything or everyone does not help. I mean, firstly I had a set image of the classroom that is now broken because of the needs that arose. I approached this role with a set mind (Happy classroom/children= Good Teacher), I looked at it through this one lens only. My ego was attached to this dream classroom, to what we are going to achieve, to all the beautiful things that is going to arise from it. And of course my self satisfaction that will come with it. Classroom is wonderful, I feel great, outside validation check. There is nothing wrong with wanting a beautiful environment for the children and having a high standard for my practice (That’s the goal of every teacher). What happened is that if when things are not going to plan, I feel unworthy, not good enough, defeated… then something is not there yet. I am missing something.
Eckhart Tolle talks about the “Surface I” which is the unconscious me, my story, my desires, my anxiety, my need… VS the “Deep I” which is the conscious me, the me that lives in awareness of both of my “I”, the me that is beyond. The me that is free! As I shine a light on this new found information (my attachment), I wonder what’s next? Now that I see my attachment, how can I let go of it and transcend my ego? What is going to be different? How is this going to help me with my challenges? How can I keep my high standard?
The other dimension of my “I” which is the deeper sense of who I am doesn’t depend on what my mind is saying about me (I am good or bad, wrong or right). In this dimension, I simply AM. I simply exist as my true self without the interpretation, the opinion, the conclusion, the label…. Eckhart Tolle explains that the “surface I lives in a state of unease most often and to transcend the egoic identity we need to become aware, to give ourselves space, and be conscious that we have the deep I”. My ego is part of me, I don’t have to kill it, I won’t be able to anyway but I can learn from it and awakened. Therefore if I can witness my own thoughts, I can change them. If I can learn to just BE without the conceptual sense of identity I may be able to be more present and more effective in my life, therefore in my work. Eckhart Tolle explains that by being in this space of consciousness within yourself, you can feel the “power of self-confidence (“the one that comes through you not by you”) at the depth of who you are and that power can flow into the moment when you are giving your fullest attention to something”. Therefore by accessing this place (deep level of consciousness), when challenges arise, I don’t have to “suffer”, I don’t have to add this extra load to the problem itself. I can choose to just see the problem as it is (e.g xyz is occurring) , then do what needs to be done (what actions need to be taken) and detach from the narratives of my mind (e.g This problem is going to continue, I am not being supported, I am not good enough, I cannot solve this problem, why is this happening etc…).
Identifying with my form/physical needs only is limited and an ongoing pursuit for more. Therefore the feeling of fulfillment and contentment with myself as a whole is important. By detaching myself from the narratives of my mind I can relate to life as a whole. I am not a teacher, a coach, a mum, a wife, a daughter…. I just AM, I am all of these and beyond! By looking at things with my full consciousness, I can keep my high standard, I can still want the best for everyone and do the best but I also have to accept that I am not in control of others mind, that I can only do with what I have, therefore my expectations need to match my ‘resources’ and limitations! I am looking forward to use this new finding about myself and my understanding of the ego and consciousness to continue to be a better version of myself or elevate myself to become one with life, to be in flow with life. After all part of my new Life Resolution is to “Do things more peacefully” For me Peace = Freedom and that is my ultimate goal in life. The challenges in our way IS the way, so I will be using them as my stepping stones. I will walk in the classroom with full awareness and presence each moment of every moment and when I fail, I will simply get back into it, no judgment, no label, no condition, no perception, no nothing! Just my consciousness!
How to practice being present:
1)In stillness (Meditation, Journaling), giving yourself the space you need to witness your thoughts without judgements
2) By being mindful of the present moment, while doing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, driving, talking to someone. Just practice being without thinking. when your thoughts arise, just notice they are here but go back to the present moment
3) Eckhart Tolle suggest we get out in nature, by simply looking at a flower/leave/tree. “Relate to the flower without the screen of knowledge/concept. Just sense the essence of the flower”
I will write the second part of this in another post. I want to discuss my thoughts about what it means to me to Say YES to Life/God!
What do you attach with? When does your ego take over? How to you relate to life? What are your intentions? Let me know in the comment below! No judgement, no conclusion, no label, no opinion from me, I promise 🙂
With much love and TO THE BEST IN YOU
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