I have spent a greater part of the last 3+ years, and on some level for the last 10 years, very focused on consciousness and awakening. Sure, I have been working on a startup, but if you are interested in “waking up”, everything in life just becomes a teacher and you use the circumstances of life as a crucible to help you unwind the places you are a slave to your ego, your patterns, and your reactions.
I recently went to a retreat where a speaker talked to us about the idea that we are all God-like beings in a world run by sock puppets (our egos). The voices of the sock puppet include Scarcity, Separation and Safety. These are mostly voices that tell us there is a problem, that there is not enough, that we are not enough, that we need to be safe and comfortable. Most of this is an actual illusion and keeping us from what is real in the present moment.
I don’t know that I chose this path. I feel like it kind of chose me. And the fucked up part about waking up is that you kind of can’t go back once you start unwinding the illusions. So you just have to keep going. And the farther you go, the more painful it becomes to not live in the truth. So one of my practices is to really observe how I operate and to unwind patterns that don’t belong.
I have spent a lot of time looking at patterns of resistance and how they relate to one another. Resistance is a big one of mine because I think I have always been petrified of my own potential. I think many people are afraid of what is truly inside them for fear of not being liked or fitting in or other people trying to bring us down or destroy us. They call it “Tall Poppy Syndrome” in Australia, where “people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers”. Even those voices of fear are not the real me, it’s just the ego keeping me from moving.
I want to give you fair warning that if something in this triggers you, it’s triggering a truth that your ego does not want you to see. The “trigger” is designed to dig your heals in and is generally attached to either Criticism or Victimhood (see below). The interesting thing is once you can start to see these things operate the less power they have and you can say “Oh wow! I am totally triggered right now! I wonder what pattern I am rubbing up against” and then it becomes kind of fun. Not in the beginning but eventually. Even saying this is addressing my resistance to writing this blog for fear of people yelling at me on the internet. It’s why I stopped writing about anything that might offend anyone, which is terrible.
Here are some of the patterns of resistance that stop us :
Avoidance. This is one that I am sure a lot of people are familiar with. We just pretend like something doesn’t exist so we don’t have to face the truth of it. We don’t want to have to feel the feelings of the truth. The discomfort. All of American culture is built on avoidance of the truth. Consumerism, Alcohol, Drugs, TV, Games, Television, Food, Work, even Fitness to some degree. If you are using something to cover up something else, it’s avoidance. The next time you go to “check out” using one of those things (yeah I know it’s your whole life — it’s fucked right), try to feel into what you are actually avoiding. On the deepest level, it’s an avoidance of connection and intimacy with others, ourselves and ultimately God, or whatever bigger thing you choose to believe in. Personally this has been a huge piece of my work and now I am so conscious to using things to check out that I can’t even enjoy those things anymore without noticing that I am not being truthful with myself.
Perfection is just a different kind of avoidance, because it’s not perfection that we seek it’s idealism. Idealism is a total illusion based in fantasy and therefore cannot be attained by it’s very nature. It’s why we are seekers chasing the bigger, better, more, never enough, something that we must have. It’s the story that you have to do something a certain way or look a certain way or have certain things in order to fit in and be likable. We fear lack of connection, acceptance and love at the root of all seeking and so we have learned to believe that compensating for our “not enough” with superficial things, looks and achievements will make up for that. In my experience, the more I strip away all of those things, the more I have been shocked to find they were barriers to the very love and acceptance I had been seeking all along. The idea that we are perfect as is, that everything is in it’s perfection simply as it is, is not something we are taught.
Perfection and Criticism tend to co-mingle a bit. If you seek perfection but always feel “not enough” then chances are you think everything and everyone is just shitty and you will find something wrong with everything. It’s a terrible lens to walk around with really. Pretty impossible to be happy in the moment if you can’t stand anything around you. Judging and Superiority fall into this category as well. The tricky thing about the mind is that it makes you think you are smart to point out the problems. Our world is designed to solve problems in order to satiate the mind and when there are no problems then the mind creates them.
The thing I have learned about criticism is that it is simply a form of protection against rejection. We kill something with criticism before it has a chance to reject us. Fear of rejection takes us back to fear of not fitting in or being good enough which in turn goes back to fear of not being loved.
This is a sensitive pattern because our world has a tricky make up of the Victim Triangle and victims are highly compelling because to be a victim, you need to make someone or something else a perpetrator. Blame. The idea of victimhood does not mean that in reality someone did not experience something bad (and bad is also relative if you use life as a teacher). It means that something that happened becomes the identity of that person and it takes over their life. A good friend of mineUlysses Slaughter does some great work around forgiveness and seeing things from all sides in order to remove the “identity” of victim. I know this is sensitive to some people because they say “but this happened TO me” and that is very much their reality. But if you take the stance of nothing happens to you but rather for you, then there is power in even the most horrific things we experience in life.
Whenever I feel like something happened TO me, I do an exercise of writing out all the ways I contributed to it, including not trusting myself. I write out all the decisions I made that led to the event and then how my story is keeping me in a state of paralysis. This is not easy. This goes back to avoidance of what is too painful to see. Shame and guilt tend to arise in some of these as well circling back to the fear that we are wrong or aren’t enough or somehow not lovable.
If you blow your life up on the regular you know this one. This is like when all of a sudden you have all these awesome things and then somehow you lose it all? Well chances are you were confronted by your own happiness and hit a“having-ness” level. It’s kind of like if you eat too much and then you puke. The other side of it is feeling a lack of deservingness or worth which goes back to the voice of “I am not enough”. Another way this shows up a lot is when you meet an awesome person and you finally “get” them and then all of a sudden you are pushing him away and blowing up the relationship. Yeah, like that. It’s funny right? We do all these things to seek to have and then we blow them up when we have them so we can continue to seek to have. It’s like we don’t know what to do once we actually have “enough”.
Speaking of enough…Money is a great excuse to not do or have because it seems so incredibly real and even some of the wealthiest people in the world continue to feel like they still don’t have enough. I have spent most of my life chasing money like a good capitalist and I have always had everything I needed irrespective of how hard I work. In fact the harder I have chased money, the less satisfying it has been. Meaning, when I grip to it for status or safety, happiness eludes me. When I relax into the idea that I will have everything I need, money comes easily and out of no where. It’s not like acquisitive wealth kind of money, but that kind of money has a lot of ego attached to it. I know this is a hard one for a lot of people to grasp but “Not enough money” is just an excuse. There is always money. This also doesn’t make sense from the perspective inside “The Matrix” of society. So yes, there are poor people who are truly struggling and it is not my intention to say their plight isn’t real to them. It is. All our realities are real to us. And at the same time it is all an illusion.
There is work, family, kids, death, pets, bills, obligations, and the list goes on. This is one of the easiest ways to opt-out of our deeper desires because it seems so incredibly legit. We use “Life” as an excuse for not truly “Living” all the time. We are so programmed around our “life” and living it in accordance with the prescription of society that the regrets people have at the end of life, when none of the business of “life” matters are things like “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me” or “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”. We have a hard time seeing life itself as an avoidance, but when we are asleep in our patterns it is the greatest form of avoidance.
All of these forms of resistance feel like they are par for the course in everyday life. Meditation and awareness allow us to begin to bring our attention to see them in operation but that doesn’t mean they just go away. It takes time and healing the underlying beliefs. For instance, you will never feel safe in the world if you don’t feel safe inside yourself and you will never feel like there is enough if you don’t feel enough. Once we begin to see the patterns and heal the deeper things, then change begins to happen. Change begins to happen and we become softer, more open, more connectable. Then life starts to feel better and we experience more happiness and joy.