A couple of weeks ago, we were talking about the difference between the ego and the Self (refer to the post Evolution of the Ego). Today’s section develops how we live this from day to day.
David Richo says “it is my ego that has a story, my soul is a silence” (p. 38). The idea is that the ego loves drama. It creates stories that are complex and that include pretty intense and uncomfortable states such as fear, desire, judgment, shame, blame, expectation and attachment to outcome. All of those feelings are pretty powerful and can easily distract us from what is really important: love, peace and being present or connected to ourselves and others. Also, these uncomfortable feelings require a fair amount of energy and time, don’t you think?
Being in silence, in the way David Richo is proposing, means allowing things to be as they are right in front of us. It is being a witness to the story of the ego, but not being drawn away in the undercurrent of it. David Richo says: “this is what is meant by being centered, not to have no story, but not to be overwhelmed by it” (p. 38).
If we can practice observing what is happening, we react less, are able to have more clarity and are able to let the feelings we have about what is occurring more easily pass by like wind through the trees. That stillness might also give us a chance to accurately understand what the feeling experience might want to tell us, if anything. Of course, it is easier to be a witness to more pleasant states: contentment, joy, love, excitement. So that’s a good place to start the practice. If you feel good, notice that you do. “I feel happy right now”. And then see what happens. Do you notice that you might try to capture this feeling because you don’t want it to go away? Do you discount it? Do you then start to think about what is making you unhappy? What if we could focus on just really enjoying that easy and pleasurable state of being when it is with us? Then, as it passes by, space opens up for another experience that might be even more beautiful or might be lovely in a different way. Start to notice what happens in your mind when you experience a feeling and try to see if you can just let it be.
Once you have the practice of witnessing a couple of times, see if you can try it with more difficult emotions to experience. Maybe you are sad, notice it. If you are tearful, it will be even easier to know you are sad. Take a moment: what is the uncomplicated, ten second truth? I’m sad because X. Accept that. It is the truth of this moment. Give up trying to move past it or trying to fix it for a minute. Once you give it an audience, you can see if there is anything it needs you to learn, to do or to say. If you are dealing with an old story, David Richo recommends looking into your feelings to check for fear, sadness and anger and giving each an audience. By being a witness to them, they don’t have keep coming back because they did their job of delivering their message.
Once you are able to notice the feeling, witness it and accept it (doesn’t mean you have to like it)… realize it is just pain. That’s it. It is discomfort that you can handle and that will pass if you just allow it.
If the pain is intense and about an old story (something that happened a long time ago), David Richo talks about asking the question: How has this helped me come closer to who I am really meant to become? You can only reflect on this question once the intensity of the feeling has passed, so ask when you are ready.
More times than not, there is a reason that reveals itself. It might not be obvious at first or it might take a little while. But try to stay open for the answer so you receive it when it arrives.
When I work with my clients, I use the metaphor of the difference between swimming in a pool and standing on the side of the pool watching yourself swim. Those two positions have very different perspectives. If there is part of you outside the water, you don’t have to be fully carried away with what is happening. There is perspective. That means less drama and more of chance to use what is occurring in your human life as a source of growth rather than simply a source of senseless, recurrent pain. Our feelings and experiences will constantly be unfolding as long as we are alive. Our ego will always be present, even if the Self has been able to take a seat in the queen’s throne. Practicing this silence means using the functional ego in service of the Self. That is the ultimate way of being able to make good use of our human life and exist with meaning. And, in the long run, that leads to a more satisfying experience of your life.
To get this message from a different perspective, check out a post by Mastin Kipp on The Daily Love called Transcend Your Circumstances with a Daily Spiritual Practice. My favorite quote in his post: The great spiritual teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti was once asked the key to his happiness, to which he said, “I don’t mind how it goes.”
*To learn more about this blog and the author, please visit the About section of this website.
*This post based on the section "Story and Silence" (pp. 38-40).