I’ve broken a lot of bad habits over the years: nail biting, excessive caffeine consumption, sugar, junk food, etc. I’m running out of “things” to let go of. Now, my experience is not necessarily a “habit” that I am letting go of, but rather a way of being. This is proving to be very frightening and hard. I need to let go of what I want to be in order to understand who I really am. In this process I am reevaluating everything I do in my life – my work, my relationships, EVERYTHING – and seeing how these things may just be a way to try to be or act like some false self. I want to be good, effective, virtuous and right, so I behave in certain ways to reinforce this image. What happens though is I loose connection with:
(1) my authentic self
(2) the people in my life.
I can’t really connect with others when I am concerned with the survival of my ego. I see how this ongoing pattern has played out throughout much of my life.
Letting go of this way of being is causing me immense fear since I do not know what lies beyond it. I do not know and therefore I fear. Who will I become? How will I fare in life without striving to be the best? What will become of me? These are all questions I do not know the answers to. A part of me is dying. I know that, but I do not know how to let go gracefully and with faith that the unseen/eternal will be there to help me reemerge on the other side whole, in tact, and anew.
The practical application of letting go of outdated modes of being looks like this:
-really empathizing with others. How do we make others really feel? Can we consider the other person in a real way without protecting our own (small) self image?
-Can we become clear enough to NOT project my own small self image onto another person? Meaning, can we see someone as they really are apart from our own ideas about them: boyfriend, friend, parent, teacher? Can we allow someone to shine forth without past experiences or future expectations polluting our interaction?
The rationale behind the above methods can be illustrated best through grammatical personage: first, second, and third person. Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen described the process of self-awareness through dreams and personage. When we dream we sometimes see things through the lens of second person or third person since humans are typically unable to self-reflect directly. We must position ourselves in relationship to a subject. This is the nature of Purusha and Prakriti, the seer and the seen. In certain dreams, we have an adversary (second person), so we attack, or run, etc. We know that in dreams this adversary represents our OWN ego we are fighting with or running from. Now after many years of yoga or meditation, it’s possible to create a shadow self out of the ego, so the adversary is us (first person), but still a bit dissociated from our direct experience. I’m thinking, if I can look at another and truly empathize and feel for them, I can get in closer contact with my true self. The intention seems a bit self-centered, however, if I do this work in the service of knowing the Authentic (large) Self, then the work ultimately serves all.
Patanjali advises us that true Samadhi happens when we become so clear that we can see the world around us clearly. He likens this to a crystal. When the crystal is tarnished, we see the world through concepts: teacher, chair, emotional, crazy, beautiful, ugly. When the crystal is clear, all concepts disappear and we can see things as they really are.
The implication is that before clear perception is possible, one must, through yoga, cleanse oneself. What practices help us and prepare us to look at ourselves openly and honestly? Can we continue to keep our process of self-inquiry going so as not to fall into the traps that Patanjali warns us about?
These are open questions we look forward to exploring with you during our next satsang at Purple Yoga Hawaii on Sunday, October 2 at 5:30 PM.