This line first appeared as a clever bumper sticker driving around the East Bay. I had to think about what this was saying. As a psychotherapist, I was taught that there were core beliefs, often deeply unconscious, that the mind would assume were true. A hallmark of most therapy traditions was this connection between thoughts and feelings. Negative thoughts came from core beliefs, which affected emotions, causing feelings like anxiety or depression.
But what if the bumper sticker were referring to other times we busied ourselves with thinking? Like why someone cut us off short on the highway or why our neighbor took a week to call us back?
And rather than accept the annoyance, feel the accompanying emotion fully and letting it go, we ponder its meaning, wondering if WE did something “wrong”. Perhaps we did, but all the turning over of the situation is not emptiness, rather attachment to the ego mind.
What does your ego mind like to do?
My mind likes to problem solve. I am good with spatial-reasoning such as how to fit furniture in a room and with predicting all possible outcomes to a particular approach to a “problem.” One could say I was good at “analyzing.” For example, in the past, when clients came to me in my practice with issues around their child’s school problem, I was quick to know all possible areas to assess from everyone’s core beliefs around the child and her behavior to the school’s philosophy on different learning styles.
I asked a lot of questions, anticipating how best to rephrase my approach if confusion were to arise. I realized a role I played frequently between parents and children, husband and wife, parent and teacher, was the “interpreter.” Each of us defines particular words slightly differently or refer to concepts with a different personal experience in mind which greatly can affect the way we think about something. I played referee, asking my questions, ad nauseum, to get to the “core”.
As you can imagine at this core, there was often agreement which was met with relief. But too often, the depths were reached at different times or even with little agreement. This caused great stress, pain and confusion. “What did it mean?” “What is wrong with him/her/them?” “What is wrong with me?” “Does this mean our relationship is over or that we were not meant to be with each other?”
The mind is relentless. Simply put, it won’t stop thinking, analyzing, turning things over for meaning, seeking complete comprehension. For those with highly developed minds from lots of schooling or reading, the desire to “think things through” or “figure things out,” is a well-worn pattern of coping.
The situation with the mind, however, is it is never satisfied and wants to maintain its hold on the personality and Being of each person. As one becomes more present and does spiritual practices, the mind may feel alarmed at the challenge to its place of dominance and begin to get even trickier.
How does your ego mind like to trick you?
A teacher of mine talks about highly advanced minds that can actually split into two: ego one and ego two, he calls the concept. Where ego two is developed as a witness to a more basic ego one. Unfortunately even ego two will have lots to say about what ego one is thinking. Ego two can feel like subtle judgment of self, irritation or defeat over the present reality. Whereas the Being part of a person will not have such struggles with thoughts or feelings.
Sometimes feelings just come up without a generating thought to accompany them. If our minds are busy searching for WHY, we can create unnecessary drama. For example, my mind loves a problem to chew on, like a bone. It feels important and useful. As I advance with my own dedication to presence and spiritual practices, I notice how my mind relaxes when it is occupied. However, I don’t always have positive emotions during this process! My mind will turn over details about my partnership or my behavior or others in my life. I have been told that these spiritual practices will bring up material, core wounds, triggers, to be felt and released. I have been often unsure lately about what is real and what is this material. I have been fearful that the material, old stuff, is not in fact releasing, but pointing to a regression!
In my Feminine Divine spiritual tradition, we have a primary practice around speaking from the silent womb of empty presence. This process is not as simple as it may sound. For one to do this, one often will first navigate through layers of the mind, through various feelings and desires to “understand” oneself and those around you. I have to wait for my mind to have all kinds of worry about speaking in front of the group or fear of judgment over what I might say. And then often when I do speak there is a ringing in my heart that echoes my truth as it is spoken through me. Often I have little to say about feelings or other topics my mind may turnover.
Sometimes my mind does have things to say out loud; often it will speak of my shame at getting something “wrong,” which my mind hates. My priestess sisters, skilled at feeling navigation, will point out my “going into ego story,” as we call it. This means speaking not from the stillness of truth, but from the core wound of separation from oneness with God/Goddess which is the foundational illusion we humans suffer from. From this core wound, we experience fear, judgment, pain that our mind and other minds think and speak from.
Womb of Silence waits for us….
Our Being speaks from the womb of silence, waiting to hear the wisdom from deep inside. Each person will have an internal truth barometer that will let you know when you speak your own truth or hear another. The truth may come as a “confession,” where the mind has gotten stuck or triggered into feeling alone or wrong. This is very different than getting caught in the cycle of the mind which wants to understand the neighbor’s motives in not returning your call and fearing that they may not like your house paint color or the way you put out your garbage or the fact you parked in front of their house, instead of yours.
It can be a relief to see the mind for what it is and speak from presence, rather than fear. And it creates a lot more stillness and space to be your authentic self, while befriending and accepting the busy, fretful ego mind when it does its thing.
A call to stillness. Join me in relaxing the mind and finding more presence in your daily life.
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