Friday, March 15, 2013

Fearing the unknown Self

I remember years ago wondering what would happen to me, to my life, to the people around me, if I acted on the deepest impulses of my heart. I felt a yearning and the impossibility of giving it all up. I was presenting myself with a false choice at that point, that I would have to renounce all my ongoing connections and commitments in order to meet my heart's urge to be of service. This was a perversion of a romantic ideal of giving up everything to offer oneself to the greater good.

Meditation can feel like this too in the beginning. There is an idea that we must somehow give up our thoughts, our patterns of mind and habits in order to open this other mode that will be pure and somehow better. If that were the case no one could meditate. It is actually through quieting the reactive mind that we can see our mind work, find the patterns that support us and the ones that thwart us. Finding the self already operating and being curious about that is one of the richest parts of meditation or asana practice.

Meditation and yoga can offer an open hearted approach to oneself. These are not fundamentally problem solving strategies, not memory aids. There are possibilities for seeing personality in its ongoing negotiations. When we avoid a few minutes of putting the self at the center of our own attention we might be reflecting our fear- what will happen if what I experience changes the way I see myself? What if I am revealed as a fake? What if I can no longer rely on the patterns that have held me together?

Well, it's just like that idea that you have to leave everything behind in order to be true and good. Your experiences in yoga and meditation will add to the toolbox you can use to do what matters to you, and allow you to see the patterns that support you as well as the ones that subvert your energy.

You are not a fake. Even if you feel mixed feelings or conflicts, even if you don't always tell the truth or know what you actually feel, you are not fake. All this is the surface where winds stir the water with mud, or build up momentum with wave action. What is beneath all of that is basic goodness. Nothing fake about it. Experiences have taught you this and that, circumstances confront you and you respond, based on reactive patterns of mind and emotional histories. Doesn't it add more to life to see this, accept it, and go on with a greater awareness of your choices?

In meditation and yoga practice we have a chance to see this as a built structure. we can keep building, remodel, admire, and understand. We don't tear it all down, nor do we judge what we find. It is scary to imagine that we don't really know ourself, or that what we do know will turn out to be terrible. What happens is quite different than that. There is a basic strength in your good heart from which internal shame, fear or pain,  physical ineptitude or habits can be held with grace and possibly even good humor.

If one leg is shorter than the other, perhaps investigation can reveal how to stabilize the pelvis and spine given that truth. This is not "correcting" oneself but supporting and nurturing the self as it actually is. See what is so right now, and use that to offer freedom from struggle, increase possibility rather than define your limitations.

We can fear our self as an unknown, as the undiscovered fake, or a fragile construction ready to fall apart. The first most remarkable experiment in the practice is to stay with this moment, this one moment, and in that monent experience that you are intact with everything you need.

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