My Over Share
I feel guilty about sex. Then I feel guilty about avoiding sex. I feel guilty about not training my body, then I feel guilty about overdoing it. I feel guilty about taking on too many things at once, and I feel guilty about not doing enough.
I feel guilty about wanting more, and wanting to be ‘successful’. I feel guilty about wanting to earn millions of dollars. I feel guilty for not having the perfect life and for not starting each and every damn day with a super healthy super organic green super smoothie.
I feel guilty when I stay up late, and guilty for not going out on fridays enough. I feel guilty for not waking up at 4am for yoga practice and guilty for not giving myself enough sleep. It’s tiring. And it’s never enough.
YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH UNTIL
YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH UNTIL
YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH UNTIL:
The partner. The money. The amazing body, perfect daily routine, life/work balance. Once it’s all figured out then we can be satisfied. Or is the reality that we’ll one day achieve it all and then be hustling like crazy to keep it all perfectly ticking along?
Until then, you’re not whole. You’re striving. You’ll never be satisfied.
Ekhart Tolle says that you will know the pursuit was of the ego when you achieve it but only feel satisfied for a short while.
I think this is where the yoga practice of the mind comes in.
You’ll never win the ego.*
Regardless of how many times we’re instructed to ‘quieten the mind’ in our yoga classes, the majority of us will find that task near impossible for more than a fleeting moment. Just as the heart is designed to beat, the brain is designed to think. Maybe yoga teachers should start instructing students to ‘separate yourself from the mind’. For indeed when you allow the thoughts to happen, when you observe your thoughts coming in and going out, and continuously watch your thoughts doing their thing…you realise that you aren’t them. You are the one watching them.
Yoga is coming back to this again and again and again. On the mat is one thing but off the mat is the true challenge. I write these words, not proclaiming myself as a guru who’s just nailing it but as a student walking the path, living my life, experiencing the struggle and the moments of realisation along the way.
See the thought, acknowledge the thought and stop grabbing onto it (or pushing it away).
This is yoga.
I’m going to use a very old cliché-slash-extended metaphor here. Picture our mind as the ocean, and we are a surfer on our board just bobbing up and down on the rolling waves. The ascent to the peak of the waves are our mind’s highlights and joys, the descent back to the valley between the waves are our shitty, non-serving thoughts. Here’s the trippy part: we are both of the players in this metaphor. We are the ocean with its waves and we are the surfer. Most of us are diving down into the waves, getting hella wet and disoriented under the water and then experiencing the sandy chafe between the thighs afterwards. But what if we can still experience the waves (the thoughts) as the surfer…as the observer, watching them come and go but living life from this place above the thoughts. They’re there, we witness them, but we don’t get pulled into them. We don’t drown ourselves in them.
What is the yoga practice then? It’s your surfboard. **
Why though? What’s the point?
What we’re doing in our yoga breathwork, meditation and practice is learning how to witness the thinking ego mind that is never going to be satisfied and to associate ourselves with the observer (the soul, the true self, the higher self, etc) which eternally sits above the mind. The more we tune into this the more at peace we become. Yeah, our minds are still thinking, and likely self-loathing or judging but you, as the observer, are standing back, acknowledging the thoughts coming and going (as they do) and staying present to the stillness that exists as this watcher.
The yoga journey is cultivating this experience of awareness. It starts as fleeting moments and grows into most of our moments.
“Just shut the f*ck up mind” will never work. “I just want to be happy” will never work.
Life has ups and downs, that’s what is exciting and challenging about our humanness. We will never have perfection held…we will never NOT experience challenge. These things will continue to trigger our ego mind, it is just the reality for the vast vast majority of us. When we cultivate our own relationship to these thoughts though, stand above them and not in them, then our power is claimed. The ego mind can sh*t-talk as much as it wants, we’re not listening anymore.
For Advanced Practitioners Only
(I’m BSing with that title…but this little section might go over your head if you are new to tuning into the state of the observer. This yoga stuff can be hard to express in words sometimes because so much of it is the felt experience). #excuses
Unsurprisingly, in the moments where we manage to find peace as the observer of the mind, in my experience at least, the ego mind freaks out a bit and starts searching for something to pull us back. The space of the observer is always at peace, for unease/ fleeting satisfaction is the state of the ego-mind. So as soon as we start to judge our experience of peace as the observer…well that’s ego-mind again. As soon as we question the validity of the peace we’re feeling (“I shouldn’t be feeling chilled because XYZ hasn’t been accomplished yet”) that is our ego-mind trying it’s hardest to pull as back into our disharmony. We’re allowed to be at peace as much as we choose, regardless of how ‘perfect’ our situation is.
We’re allowed to ‘ride the waves’ as the observer.
So let me rephrase my rant from the first few paragraphers of this post.
My mind feels guilty about sex. My mind feels guilty for avoiding sex. My mind feels guilty for working too hard and guilty when I chill out. My mind feels guilty for staying up late and guilty for not going out enough on fridays.
Me though. I’m just watching it all happen, and the more I identify as this detached observer the calmer I feel. After all, the thoughts will just keep happening, the ego is never satisfied. It’s not my job to satisfy the ego though, instead I’m choosing the practice of bringing myself into greater moments of peace as the eternal witness.
I wish you the very best in your practice warrior. The ego’s gonna happen.
Namaste for now, Andrew
*Side note: I don’t know what enlightenment is in the lived experience…but maybe some of us will attain it and one day you’ll tell me that you have no ego. Ekhart Tolle claims not to have one…so maybe it’s a thing, eventually. **Second side note: I realise how those who read this with the understanding that yoga is a bunch of gymnastic poses may not be buying into this. I’ll leave it with the statement that yoga is far more than poses, green juices and stretchy pants. I mean, it is totally those things too…but that’s just the instragram superficial sh*t.