I recently received some guidance: “I am complete with hearing the same ego story from someone who knows full well how to end suffering and won't do it.”
It took me roughly 24 hours, with a lot of recording and listening, to see that the message from the Guide was spot on. I have been identified with a particular story for much of my life, and it was never true. Indeed, I did know how to end the suffering and wasn’t doing it. In fact, I was doing exactly what would reinforce the story. So I committed to three behavior changes:
- News-avoidance training. I was a news “addict.” Daily I checked media websites over and over, seeking information that would make me feel better or give me hope in the midst of all the despair I felt over everything that was “wrong.” At least that’s what I thought I was doing. Actually, “I” was seeking information that ego would use to reinforce its story that there was something “wrong.”
I received guidance to avoid the news and other things and situations that triggered a karmic reaction of “something wrong” until such time that I saw so completely through the story that the triggers no longer affected me. I haven’t been at this avoidance practice long, but I have noticed that I have more peace and well-being. A lot more. And more time to listen to recordings, and do yearlong retreat assignments, and participate in what takes care of me. I don’t know what’s in the news, but I feel more engaged with life than I have in a long while.
- Happiness check-in training. The Guide said, “If you’re not happy, you’re identified with ego.” So now I check regularly to see if I am happy, and if I am not, I grab the recorder or focus on the breath, hug the cat or dance or take a walk, whatever helps me to get out of the head. This is not that hard to do, once I remember to do it.
In the conversation with the Guide, I was talking about the experience of dropping the “something’s wrong” story, and I said, “Presence is sooo nice.” Then we both burst into laughter. “Just to underline that, it’s the only thing that is good,” the Guide said. “It’s the only thing that’s pleasurable, that’s enjoyable. It’s only to the degree that we are here that we can experience anything that the heart wants.”
- Between-the-thoughts training. After an ego-driven encounter a few weeks ago, I found myself, once again, in a karmic train wreck, battered and bruised. The Guide’s recommendation: Stop thinking about it. Courageously face with acceptance what I had said and done while identified, she said, but don’t think about it. I took “face it” to mean to see it clearly for the process that it is. But no shame, guilt or head trips. I was able to do that with a lot of R/L.
As I experienced the peace that came with not thinking about that karmic crash-and-burn, it dropped in to practice not thinking about anything. (“Thinking” includes fantasizing, role playing, mulling, imagining and planning.) In our conversation, the Guide said that was a good idea; she called it seeking “the space between the thoughts.” I’ve heard that before and thought, “Whaaaat?” But I have been practicing turning my attention to a place that is a kind of no-mind. And there’s the space. No story, no news, no unhappiness, no karma. Just space and presence. Sooo nice.