Wednesday, April 13, 2011
A deep breath and a pat on the back
In the interest of full disclosure and honesty, while I am doing my best to walk down the spiritual path that I've chosen and to embody the principles, values and teachings that accompany it, I have a LONG way to go. No real surprise there, I suppose, since that is pretty much true for most all of us. And one way in which this is very obvious to me is that I still have a heck of a lot of ego to deal with. Ah yes, ego. It is a word that comes up quite often among us mindful types because we're so busy trying to sublimate it. Sometimes that can mean we feel the need to discuss it ad nauseum. But ego isn't all bad. It depends on how you look at it, and how you put it to use.
Tonight, my ego is compelling me to share a story that is going to read much like a proverbial pat on the back, and that would be because it is. I had an experience today that I find tremendously gratifying because it gave me a very clear, tangible opportunity to see that all the work I've been doing is actually paying off. I'm proud of myself! And if sharing that pride is an ego-driven act, then so be it. I'm hoping the positive effects of my attempts at humor and inspiration will help score me spirit points to offset the whole ego business ;-)
With all the reflection on love that I've been doing during the past few weeks, not surprisingly A., my ex-boyfriend, has occupied a good bit of brain span. It seems natural and reasonable enough that, when contemplating the intricacies of love and relationships, one would refer to his or her own experiences, and in all likelihood, the current or most recent one is going to figure pretty strongly into the mix. I've been over A. for a while now, technically speaking. We haven't seen each other in a couple of months, my life has moved forward splendidly, I've met some people who've sparked my interest and I am in a great place all around. From a not-so-technical standpoint, however, I've kept a little soft spot in my heart for him where I've held out a tad of hope that the time would come when circumstances would be different, we would reconnect and the spark of love that we shared would once again be fanned into full-on flames. And because I've been feeling so lovey-dovey, naturally I figured this would be a great time to put that to the test. I'm a romantic, what can I say?!?
Or maybe I'm just really hard-headed and have to have certain lessons beaten in there by brute force before I can truly appreciate them. Chances are it is a little of both. There were things about my relationship with A. that weren't making me entirely comfortable or happy even when things were amazing between us. Being in love as I was, I conveniently pushed those to the side and focused on what was so good about us. And since our relationship ended, there have been multiple instances of emotional outpourings and attempts at reconnection that just haven't been sustainable. All signs point to us not serving each others' greater good any longer, and yet it has taken me months to really internalize this. It took me until today, actually.
After yet another attempt at reconnection didn't come fully to fruition, I witnessed myself almost instantaneously process the situation from a place of total presence and mindfulness. One of the best ways I can describe this is that my higher self took control of the situation and began to drive my inner dialog. A. flaked on plans with me twice this week, which was entirely not surprising. What was surprising, or better said, really pleasing, was that rather than get upset about it, give him an earful and then require a good dose of talk-therapy with one of my girlfriends to blow off some steam and process everything constructively (which is a respectable option!), I just did it right then and there on my own. I calmly hung up the phone. Then I witnessed my mental process of running down a little checklist of things I could do "to feel better", realizing immediately that they were simply distractions and not resolutions. Higher self Jess quickly nixed those. Instead, I sat still, took a few deep breaths and connected to my center. Then I hopped on my bike, rode to the beach to the tune of beautiful mantras streaming through my headphones, journaled by the ocean and worked it all out. Far healthier than mopping around, emotional eating, thinking that this may have been a great moment to take a stab at online dating or any other diversion that I could have easily created to keep myself from really looking at what was happening so I can process it and move on.
Yoga's myriad teachings have shown me the immeasurable benefit of practices such as being present and connecting to your breath. It is one thing to incorporate these practices on the mat during an asana class, though that one thing isn't always easy either! It is entirely another thing to incorporate these practices into the challenges and trials of day-to-day living. And that is really what this is all for. When I talk about the work I'm doing paying off, I'm not talking about all the hours I spend each week pushing myself physically while I drip sweat and twist myself up like a pretzel. Cool as that may be, that is just a means to an end. The end, which I do not have any delusions of actually reaching in this lifetime, is self realization. Know thyself, know the Divine. I walk the conscious, spiritual, yogic path proudly and contentedly, knowing that the process is a huge reward in and of itself. The process provides moments like I experienced today where I feel true peace, true centeredness. Those moments offer a taste of the ultimate self realization that we are working toward. Feeling your own divinity in the form of true alignment on all levels- body, breath, heart, mind, soul- is among the sweetest nectar there is.