Do you feel hopeless at times, that you can't ever seem to get a break or that other people just don't understand your life? Of course, no one other person can ever know the shoes you walk in or the pain you feel. While each person's life circumstances are unique, we also know that much of our pain is self-inflicted. What I have learned from my own struggles and from the work I do with others is this: if we are not willing to accept our flaws and embrace our humility, if we are not willing to truly invest in ourselves and replace destructive habits with life-affirming ones, we cannot move out of the struggle. The fast-paced culture we live in does little to help us feel our ONENESS with all people. In fact, it does quite the opposite, by encouraging competition and drama. And so, a very real effort is needed to shield ourselves from the cultural trappings by which we can, at times, feel so consumed.
Our EGO is a very powerful force – it exists to allow us to develop a separate identity because our present society encourages it. When we entered this world, most of us felt at one with other people and with Love. Then slowly, beginning with our own name, we become conditioned by our family and our culture to develop a separate identity, our Ego. We were taught to be good girls and boys, which would earn us approval, but which also quietly eroded our sense of oneness and unconditional love. We learned to compete for attention and love, forgetting that we are essentially precious and good. Slowly over time, our sense of personal power was replaced with Fear – fear that we might not be good enough, smart enough, attractive enough. In Marianne Williamson's A Return to Love, Reflections of the Principles of A Course in Miracles, she writes, “The Ego is quite literally a fearful thought .. our entire network of fearful thoughts, all stemming from that first false belief in our separation from God and one another, is called the ego. Thought separated from love is a profound miscreation. It's our own power turned against ourselves.” And, Eckhart Tolle tells us “anyone who is identified with their mind and, therefore, disconnected from their true power, their deeper self rooted in Being, will have fear as their constant companion.”
For most people, they are so lost in their Ego world that they have no idea they have disconnected from their consciousness. Consumed by Fear and Self-identification, it is virtually impossible to shift toward Love, because our Ego is so busy preserving the status quo. The status quo may not be one that supports our best potential, but because it is familiar, it is to be protected no matter the cost. When this happens and we are consumed by our fears, we often turn to victimizing our Selves by blaming others for our pain (to assume any personal responsibility would jeopardize the Ego we worked so hard to protect). This is a trap, which unfortunately our culture supports. The more we identify with our Ego, the more restless we become and the more we attempt to resolve the restlessness through more attachments, such as material consumption, toxic chatter or self-deprecation.
If instead, we move past our Ego and see how we are all ONE massive life force, many of our fears are stripped of their power over us. “By making this pattern conscious, by witnessing it, you dis-identify from it. In the light of your consciousness, the unconscious patter will then quickly dissolve. This is the end of all arguments and power games, which are so corrosive to relationships. Power over others is weakness disguised as strength. True power is within, and it is available to you now.” Eckhart Tolle
Observing the Ego is our gateway to awareness of and then release of Self. This requires a good deal of practice, as identification with the Ego has become so habitual in adulthood.
Be the quiet Observer in your own life and watch where this takes you. Each time you find yourself stuck in attachments, simply sit in this new awareness. Eventually, begin to disentangle your Beingness from your Ego-identification and you may notice some remarkable things in the ways you feel. Just because you were once robbed of the pure love and innocence you arrived with, does not suggest that you are not absolutely capable of reclaiming it.
Release Ego and Embrace Love – it is Who You Are.
Ever get to the end of your day and know that, while you checked some things off “the list”, you still lack any true sense of satisfaction or accomplishment? Ever have a mishap because you weren't “paying attention”? This can be the consequence of “Accidental Living” or not Living with Intention. To-Do lists are great, but how do they encompass our sense of purpose or vision? And, while it's not reasonable to expect every minute to be purpose-driven, perhaps we each could feel a bit more fulfilled if we injected more consistent intention into our daily living.
To live with intention is to depart from your comfort zone, that mindless, habitual state of unconsciousness that is more doing than being. Eckhart Tolle says “What a liberation to realize that the 'voice in my head' is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.” Be the one who sees your life. Notice the who of you, cultivate that relationship and choose a direction. This could be a goal, a lifestyle, or a higher setting on your spiritual dial. Be the chooser. Observe that the very act of envisioning and connecting with your intention has as much value as the action steps that will take you there. Imagining your new landscape is the first step toward making it so. Then, engage in consistent affirmation to sustain your commitment to your intention. Affirmations illuminate value, rewire our confidence and project positive energy into our reality.
One place to start is the first 15 to 30 minutes of your day. Sit quietly in a peaceful spot before the “house wakes up” and ask yourself “What is my Intention today?” Perhaps it is to live each moment with extra kindness toward others; maybe it is to be a more attentive listener, or a more available parent. It could be that your intention is to be more inward-focused or more social. Your intention could be to speak more softly, be less reactive, practice deep breathing. Or, it might be to listen to your inner voice, tap into your intuition, and keep your heart open to the rainbow of possibilities in your life.
When we set an intention for the day, it invites our Spiritual Warrior to show up and have a voice. Intention has some of the qualities of an agenda, but with a wider lens and a deeper vibration. Like any new habit, this will take practice to begin to feel more natural. Simply do your best to exercise your Intentional Muscle with some regularity. The more often you set daily intentions, the more naturally it will become a part of your familiar rhythm.
So, the next time you head to that staff meeting you don't typically enjoy, the next time you feel the reaction to your teenager's disrespectful, indifferent tone, the next time you commit to a project or goal, sit and linger inside your intention a touch longer. Not too long that you resist action but just long enough for your intentional barometer to rise a bit higher. Allow your intention to percolate and trust in the process of practice.
Good Intention → Good habits → Good Intention. It's a choice; it's YOUR CHOICE.
Certified Health and Lifestyle Coach, Sheryl Melanson, partners with people to transform limiting habits into mindful choices that express their values, create action plans and recalibrate their lifestyle to optimal well-being.