Thursday, November 5, 2015
I was two months into my sabbatical and it happened – I fell down. Hard. The first of the month hit on month three of my sabbatical and my ego awakened with a jolt saying “Okay – that’s enough of that. You’ve had your break. You’ve written, hiked, connected with nature, ridden horses, connected with your spiritual self, grieved Dad. It’s time to get back to work. We have shit to do and there’s a lot to worry about.”
I wasn’t necessarily conscious of this at the time but more so in retrospect. Instead, at the time, I simply started to revert back to old habits. I started to let worry and fear about seemingly petty things creep back into my mind. I started to let everything bother me and judged every nuisance that crossed my path. This coincided with a trip I was taking and as much as I tried to practice the things I’d been doing so well since I began my sabbatical (such as, allowing travel plans to come together instead of forcing them into place, allowing phone calls and emails to be returned instead of forcing things to closure on my timeline and knowing that things would unfold perfectly), I fell short. Instead, I wrestled and beat everything to the ground as I used to, as my ego wanted me to, fearing if I didn’t, it would all fall apart. The mind chatter was incessant – about everything. Even meditation, which I had become quite practiced at, wouldn’t ease my inner worried voice. Even meditative runs, which I had been doing more regularly since starting the sabbatical, wouldn’t shut my ego up.
I recall a particular run, where I literally stopped, put my hands on my head and yelled aloud “just shut up!” Thankfully nothing other than two lone cows in a field witnessed this outburst.
I had a horseback-riding lesson on this same day, and, something that had been pure fun and joy the prior two months was a 60-minute disaster. I couldn’t get the horse to do anything I wanted. I was frustrated. So was she. Horses mirror our inner energy so this wasn’t surprising. They are wonderful leaders and teachers. I left my lesson crying with my ego telling me I suck at everything. I cried for all the progress I thought I made on my spiritual growth the past several months and for all the progress I thought I’d made to live in alignment with my Divine self and in the flow of my life; to not let my fearful ego driven self be in control. It obviously hadn’t worked. I was right back where I started. “Why bother? What’s the point?” I said aloud as I drove home from horseback riding, sulking the entire way.
The next morning Eckhart Tolle’s newsletter was in my inbox. I opened it, glancing at the headlines. The one that jumped off the page at me was titled “Obstacles To Awakening”. I clicked on it and proceeded to watch his five-minute video on the biggest obstacle to awakening – our ego. He explained that the ego will jump in and tell you “nothing’s happening, nothing’s changing and there’s no point to trying to live in a new way. Why bother?” The same exact words my ego said to me the day before were in this video.
I received this email and this reminder at the most perfect time – exactly when my ego was trying to regain control and push me back to living and operating from fear. Eckhart Tolle said to have compassion for ourselves during this time as we are learning a new behavior. Yes, we will trip and fall like a toddler trips and falls when learning to walk. We don’t yell at the toddler and say “get up you idiot!” No! We have compassion for the child. This is exactly what I needed to do for myself. My ego wanted me to turn back and revert to the old familiar way of living. My ego wanted me to stay down after the fall, to retreat. Imagine if toddlers retreated and turned back each time they fell while learning to walk? We’d all still be crawling around….
We need to get back up, have compassion for our stumble as we learn a new way of living. And, that’s what I did. I stopped telling my ego to shut up and stopped berating myself for stumbling. I expressed compassion for my ego-self who was just doing her job – trying to keep my self in the old-familiar way of living. I observed her and acknowledged her. I got back up and kept moving forward each day, one more step at a time; I soothed her and remembered my new truth: I now let my Divine Self lead. I stand up in her truth after falling down. I don’t retreat back to a crawl. I put one foot in front of the other and continue on the path I’m carving for my latest journey.
Will I stumble again? Of course. And as Eckhart Tolle said in his video, I’ll be even more aware of it. The fact that I was aware and continue to have awareness of the misalignment, of the ego trying to regain control, means I’m much farther along on the journey than ever before. It never used to register because it was how I lived. Not anymore. I am aware. I am awake. I am living consciously. I am no longer asleep and allowing my fear-based worrisome self to lead the way. I will celebrate that. I will keep moving forward. I will not turn back.