The following is another excerpt from my book, Awaking Grace, it is Sample Chapter 2: Eyes Wide Open, if you have not already, I highly recommend reading Sample Chapter 1: Finding the Center first before you read on.
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As you grow in the awareness of your center, the world begins to open up. YOU begin to open up. The dark threads that bound you up so tightly, begin to loosen. Just enough for you to glimpse what is on the other side, like the first clear and full breath after being underwater. Once you have experienced that fullness for yourself, you will never be the same. The light has been turned on, even if only for an instant, and you can never return to the deadening space of total unconsciousness in the same way again.
The spark of awareness is ignited, and it burns like a tiny flame in the dark. If you will allow it, it will grow to consume that darkness, using all of your thoughts and illusions like fuel for the fire. But this is easier said than done, especially when the darkness still feels heavy and overwhelming. When the air inside still feels thick with the voices of fear, shame, regret, anxiety and anger. These are the many voices of ego. The part of ourselves that must cause separation from others, from our world, from other beings, and from Grace itself. It’s sole purpose is to define us outside of Grace, outside of Love, outside of Oneness. It uses it’s negative self-judgements or judgements of others in order to draw it’s line in the sand - “this is you, and this is me.” Ego is not represented by only those who think highly of themselves, but by those who think lowly of themselves and everything in between. Ego has but one purpose, and that is to separate you from what seems like “the others” and “the now” , but ultimately what it is separating you from is yourself. Your True Self. It knows not of your oneness with the “others” and with “the now”, it does not know that those things are indivisible from the vast and infinite intelligence of your Being. It has a bag of tricks like you would not believe, and every one of them is a mere rouse designed to detract you from who you already are.
Having lived most of my life with an ego that was largely self-defeating, I used to call this part of myself “The Evil Cheerleader”. Because that’s what it honestly felt like. Like this absolute nightmare of a self, reminiscent of middle-school traumas, that sat in the darkened corners of my Being just ranting derogatory remarks at me all day long. Cutting me down, comparing me to others, tearing me apart, and generally refusing to accept me. Nothing I could do was ever good enough, nothing ever satiated it’s appetite for my misery. I could achieve everything it said that I needed, and it would immediately begin to pick that apart and find something loftier to attain. To no end. To absolutely, positively, no end.
This was a revelation at the time, and naming it “The Evil Cheerleader” was an inside joke that turned out to be a vital step in my awakening, like a life-raft thrown out from Grace, this was how I began to detach myself from that voice. Seeing that it was something INSIDE me rather than “who I was” is what created the space for me to dis-identify with the voice, and for many years, before I had even begun my “spiritual path” this dis-identification was the space that ultimately delivered me back to myself.
Just by seeing that this voice is NOT ourselves, but rather like an old tape that runs and runs on repeat in our minds, we are allowed the beginnings of freedom. A dear friend of mine and I used to share in a rolling laugh about the antics of this tireless cheerleader, and if you can do that as well - it will greatly enhance the practice of not only witnessing the presence of this entity in you, but of bringing levity and compassion to it. By shining the light of awareness and laughter, you begin to see its futility. You begin to not take it so deadly serious anymore, and it begins to lose its power over you.
Of course ultimately, I learned that bringing kindness and acceptance to the voice in the head is required for moving beyond it, otherwise it will continue to thrive in your resistance to it. As the saying goes... “what you resist, persists.” So I learned to see the Evil Cheerleader as nothing more than a facade, for a fearful and insecure girl, and that is where I could bring the healing power of Love. Like a cat in a Well, scratching at the walls - at the deepest level, we’re all just trying to get out. Out from under the shame, the guilt, the resentment, the blame, the anger, the hurt, the sadness, the worry, you name it. But you don’t need to climb out, you don’t have to struggle to fight against the current of your emotions. Your awareness of these things in you, brings Grace. And Grace, like water in the well, will flush you out. Float you effortlessly to the surface and set you free. All you have to do is allow it. Give up the fight. Allow the ego and it’s hilarious antics. Allow the pain and the hurt to move in you. Can you abide in it’s presence? Can you hold it in you and accept it, knowing that like everything in life, it is passing and impermanent?
If you cannot, good. Then know that you cannot, accept that you cannot, and be with that completely. If it persists, and you grow weary of it, you might try writing the thought down that is causing you pain. Once you have written it down, you can question the thought, and find out exactly what it is this thought is doing to you, and who you would be without it. I HIGHLY recommend The Work of Byron Katie, as it is and continues to be, the most powerful tool that I know of to return myself to my natural state of freedom and clarity, and love.
The Work consists of 4 simple questions and the turn-arounds, and although it takes courage and dedication to truly sit in these questions, and look at what you find, the result of it is ALWAYS freedom.
These questions may help you to gain clarity on the thoughts that come and bring the clouds of pain and confusion with them. They may deliver you back to the present moment where Grace has been waiting for you all the while. They may act as sunbeams through the fog, and illuminate the truth for you. Sometimes it will lead to personal insights and revelations you hadn’t seen before, sometimes it will be incredibly healing, and sometimes, it just won’t be enough.
If it’s not enough, have kindness and compassion for yourself through it anyway. Come back, and try again when you're ready. There is no time limit for your healing. It is an open door that will be warmly waiting and welcoming you - FOREVER. It will never be too late.
By investigating the painful thoughts that go on in our minds, we begin to uncover the endless cycling nature of them, we begin to see where they are generated, and that they are generated to keep us from our true nature. The nature of Being, of unconditional love and kindness, of joy and openness, and of the very Grace at our center. We begin to see what we’ve been missing. We begin to lighten in the absence of burdensome self-talk. We begin to expand in what has been a contracted and uncomfortable space. We begin to walk in the world... eyes wide open.
Suddenly the light seems brighter, colors are more vibrant, tastes and smells are more vivid, the wind feels alive on your face. Things begin to flow in the world around you as a perfect reflection of the way they have begun to flow inside you. It is like you have been cracked open, exposed, and the world seems brilliantly new, and yet, like the world you’ve always known. Things begin to make sense.
The humility of seeing your thoughts and emotions appear as phantoms, and then re-appear as the same phantoms that haunt most every human being you come into contact with, is a sweet and grounding experience. When we are in our pain, it is as if we forget we’re not the only ones. It is as if we forget that these thoughts driven by fear are our shared human experience. It is so much easier to see how fear serves no benign purpose in the lives of our friends and family. But much harder to see it in ourselves, especially when we are in the middle of it.
This is where investigation, using your own internal questioning, or ‘The Work’ of Byron Katie, can help to expose the reality behind our mental stories. Or at least expose the motive behind them, and when the motive is revealed, it leaves us with ourselves. Every moment is shaped by the thoughts we are believing, and when we come from a place of honesty about what those thoughts do to us, we are likely to begin to live our life from a place of love rather than fear.
The classic argument is that without fearful thoughts to motivate us, why would we bother to do anything? If we’re just in total acceptance of life and of ourselves as we are, why would we ever do anything ever again? My response to this is why wouldn’t we? As if fear and lack and frustration are the only emotions that act? Has love not ever made you move towards something? Has love not ever found a resolution to your problem? Has your place of calm not ever had effect on your household? Your relationship? My experience is that without fear and worry, I embody my actions fully, and they are empowered by the still, and loving presence of Grace. My experience is that action in the absence of fear, is not only infinitely more fulfilling in and of itself, it is vastly more effective as well.
But please, don’t take my word for it, begin to unravel the threads that hold you, and find out for yourself. Validate it in your own experience, this is the only way.