The journey of letting go and dying to our ego self is our October theme. It seems fitting as the leaves are starting to fall off the trees and the days are getting shorter.
Lee and I just came home from the beginning of a year-long teacher’s training near Stanford University, The Compassion Cultivation Training. The Dalai Lama in collaboration with Stanford scientists started the training to spread globally the shared core value of compassion, and build bridges between any people or groups in conflict.
I have always considered myself a compassionate person. Yet, I realized at this training that to be unconditionally compassionate in all situations and with all people means a lot of letting go. Letting go of being right (One of my ego’s favorites ), letting go of judgments- of myself and others- letting go of my comfort zone of hanging out only with the people that basically share my viewpoints. So I earnestly asked myself: “Can I stretch that far? Can I really embrace EVERYONE?”
In theory yes. Globally yes. But when it hits closer to home, it’s much harder. Just a few days before this training, I had a lesson in that.
My husband Lee and I had a conflict that humbled me quite a bit. I was really mad at him for forgetting to say goodbye to me before he left on a three-and-a-half day trip. My old “I don’t matter” wound surfaced, and immediately my defenses came up. We had had very little quality time together before that, and my ego wanted to make him wrong for that. I found all the reasons and evidence why I was the victim and he was the tyrant. I decided I was justified in putting him in “the dog house” for a while. It was amazing to watch all this unfold after a relatively small offense.
Feeling like I am unimportant started at my birth when my mother almost bled to death at home. To save her life, the midwife and my grandmother just left me somewhere in the corner of the room for quite a while to tend to my mom. It was a completely understandable situation, yet it left me feeling alone and cold, and started my journey of feeling that other people’s needs are more important than mine. Those kind of infant imprints run deep and program us for life.
Having done a lot of beautiful healing work, I now rarely get triggered around this. Yet, when Lee left without saying goodbye that time, the old program came rushing to the surface and my mind grabbed onto it. It took me a while to consciously find, face, and feel what was really going on, and it felt like an ego death. My German ego can be very stubborn, and holds on for dear life to its position of false strength. Underneath its facade, just like for most of us human beings, it is protecting a very vulnerable and raw place inside me that wonders if I really do belong in this world, and if there really is any unconditional love.
The amazing thing was, when I finally did let go, I felt so free, and a wave of Grace came rushing into me. I remembered that I belonged, and could perceive the presence of unconditional love in everyone and everything. That’s on the other side of any ego death!
A Cor, our work centers around the process of letting go of our defenses and allowing our vulnerable, naked, and raw humanity, so we can remember our true self and live an open, available, and present life of generosity. Allowing our defensive structure to crumble is a rather difficult process, and we all need so much compassion! Compassion for ourselves and for others, as we stumble along this journey, with its little and big ego deaths.
We’d love to hear what you are facing. Where are you being asked to let go of your habitual defenses and ego strategies, and what is helping you to do so? Please share with us!
With love and compassion,