Part of this journey of introspection involves relationships with other’s close to me, these are the relationships that are proving to be the true teaches in helping me articulate my journey and define more and more of who I am.
Along this journey I have had to face the challenges of such relationships and look myself in the mirror each and every time. In relationships with our family members or people close enough to be considered in the group of people; people that we trust enough to be in our truest form of who we really are. It is in these relationships that the truest reflection of a shift or change can be seen.
Our truest form of conditioning is ingrained in these relationships, we have been conditioned to play a certain role, to react or respond the way we always have or risk throwing a slight imbalance into the steady mobile that has been created through family of origin conditioning.
One of my primary realizations in this lifetime is to step out of my EGO and its control over of my life and it is proving to be challenging every step of the way. As a way to test myself and see how far I have really come in achieving even a step towards this realization is to work within relationships where there are a set of conditioned behaviours and resactions, relationships that have past experiences attached to them.
We have been conditioned to live in the sense of the self, the I, the EGO, it is there in every thought, every memory, every viewpoint, every reaction and every emotion. The the mind consists of certain repetitive and persistent thoughts, emotions, and reactive patterns that we identify with most strongly. It is unconscious.
Eckhart Tolle suggests if you have been doing inner work for some time, a visit with your family is an excellent opportunity to discover how well you have done. You will easily identify the areas where you have made significant progress. You will also see where your weaknesses still lie.
Ram Dass, the spiritual teacher, once said:
“If you think you are so enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents.”
The relationship with your parents, your children, and your siblings are not only the primordial relationships that have set the tone for all subsequent relationships, but also a good test for your degree of Presence. The more shared past there is in a relationship, the more present you need to be; otherwise, you will be forced to relive the past again and again. Again, my man Eckhart Tolle suggests that when our pain bodies are activated, (the best place to have this occur is go to your family or origin and see what comes up), we go unconscious and keep repeating the same patterns.
I have had the opportunity to put my inner work to the test while I have been travelling.
The relationships remain the same whether you are right there in the day to day life or if you are across the world travelling.
Recently a situation arose with someone very close to me, a familiar pattern of behaviour, a habitual dance, a familiar set of actions and reactions.
That old familiar burning in my solar plexus, the tears choking in my throat and tears starting to gather behind my eyes and a reflex to make everything all better, to take a back my decision, come up with reasons why I did something wrong, to push away what is important to me and for me and do something that goes against my own very reliable intuition making the decision to make nice, to swallow my own sense of being and avoid the conflict that would surely follow.
It is that old familiar feeling of being shamed, hearing someone else’s reality of the events, a difference of the facts and a spinning of the situation, a pointing of accusations, a feeling of being threatened into submission, making innuendos that there is something wrong with you personally, that this situation has evolved because of what you have done, throwing out words like disappointed, pathetic, making wide accusations, telling me how I feel, how I have come to the conclusion I have come to, blaming, shaming, and insinuating that everything are because of my decision. Insinuating jealousy, making statements about my character and who I am. A striking out.
My automatic reaction is to stand up as tall as I can appear, to puff myself out a wide as I can widen myself, my mind buzzing and all my defences rushing to the surface, like the king cobra, I am standing in striking position ready to strike back in retaliation. This is the old, automatic, conditioned pattern of behaviour that is so ingrained, so egoic, a stirring of the past, the memories, the habitual dance that is so familiar to me. I feel it deep inside my gut, my body reacts with such intensity it takes my breath away.
Then in a moment, like a gentle breeze blowing in I am reminded, to come back to the present moment and breathe, to pause, to sit with this excruciating feeling in my body, to allow this tornado starting in my mind, to sit with this old familiar burning in my solar plexus, allow the tears to choke in my throat, let the tears gather in my eyes as they slowly drip to the floor and to let it pass. Breathe, come back to this moment, do not engage, do not allow the stories to play out, do not wallow about the past, do not start predicting the outcome, simply come back to this moment.
The above reaction is the conditioning that has created a deep rut of patterns of behaviours and reactions, they are automatic, they are ingrained, they will always be a part of me, although, allowing them to drive or to sit in the passenger’s seat is something I have control of.
The pause in order to reach the response is the shift, the swerve, it is the gentle breeze that allows me to be reminded that my journey, my path, my inner work is to shift into the new rut and respond.
The response comes from a new shallow rut that sits beside the deep conditioned rut, its creases shallow, unsure, unfamiliar, unseasoned and inexperienced. This rut running parallel to the spiritual life I have chosen to live.
I see the familiar patterns of behaviour in both of us. I see the dance. I see the roles. I see the EGO. I see it with such clarity.
I see myself doing something different. Respond rather than react. I become aware of my reactive thoughts, feeling and behaviours; only the behaviours don’t materialize, stepping back, feeling the feelings and watching.
As I let it come in for tea, sit, stay while, I come to realize more and more clearly that this is simply my conditioned patterns of behaviour reacting off of the EGO of another, their own unawareness, it is their thinking, the content of their mind and a bunch of repetitive and persistent thoughts, emotions, and reactive patterns that they identify with most strongly. This entity is the ego itself. It’s not the meat suit calling the shots or the mind controlling but its beyond that. It a soul on a journey of its very own we were put together to learn from one another.
It is in this realization that I can make the conscious choice to engage in the process, dance the dance or make a different choice, do something different.
The spiritual journey involves stepping out of your comfort zone and stepping into the fear and doing things differently. To keep moving in the direction of your path and working on what you can control, your thoughts, your actions, your responses do something different. You are the only one in charge of you. We are not in control of anyone else nor will be ever have the power to control another.
In theory it makes sense and sounds wonderful to take such step in the right direction but the one consideration that has not been discussed is the heart and emotions and what happens when taking such a bold step in a relationship that means so much. It does not mean the pain goes away, it does not mean the churning in my solar plexus suddenly disappears, it does not mean the tears do not rise up and choke in my throat, it does not mean that the tears do no dampen my eyes, it does not mean that I don’t fear, its all still there. What is does mean is that I am walking the walk and talking the talk, I am following my spiritual path, I am stepping out of my comfort zone, I am facing my fears, I am living, I am doing something different and most importantly I am being true to who I am.
This being true to who I am takes courage and sometimes it feels like a very lonely path stepping away from the familiar, doing something different, creating a new rut, building confidence, standing in truth, stepping out of conditioning, upsetting the delicate balance of the mobile.
If there is anything I have learned over this lifetime it is to step out, to take the leap, live in the unknown, trust and continue shifting into the unfamiliar with compassion and as much self love as I have for myself.
True happiness is on the other side, it doesn’t always feel that way as the journey unfolds but like anything else practice makes perfect and the hope that the new rut becomes the familiar, the newly conditioned, deeper rut.