Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A New Earth -- The Core of Ego

Jenn's thoughts and learnings from the third week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

Awareness is the power that is concealed within the present moment. . . . The ultimate purpose of human existence, which is to say, your purpose, is to bring that power into this world.
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

Another great week with the A New Earth web event based, of course, on another great chapter of the book A New Earth. I'm having a lot of fun with this process, especially knowing how widespread it is. Crossing the street to go to the theatre Sunday night, I overheard two women talking about the book and the webinars, women who probably wouldn't have come to this experience without Oprah's help. It totally feels like Oprah is inciting a revolution of consciousness, and I, for one, am happy to be a part of it!

As always, there is nothing new under the sun--Eckhart is simply providing a new perspective on spiritual teachings that have been available to us for millenia. There's just something about the way he does it, about his personal presence and his interplay with Oprah, that I'm finding truly inspirational and entirely practicable. I love taking this stuff out into the world each day and applying it in new ways and seeing what happens. Here are a few of the highlights from this week's class that I'm looking forward to playing with this week:

* Your true power lies in being yourself. This was the strongest message for me this week, even though it was a relatively small part of the class. Perhaps because someone like Oprah is involved in this process, the power of this concept becomes larger than life. As Oprah herself said, and Eckhart confirmed as well, Oprah's success has essentially been because of her ability to be herself on television. She spoke of her early career as an anchorwoman and how she would put on a persona when she was behind the desk, and how that broke down for her and she learned to be herself. Her show reaches so many viewers because people see her as genuine, as authentic, as someone they can relate to and talk to themselves. It calls to mind the idea that August Gold and so many others have talked about in terms of there being a place for you in this world and you are the only person who can fill it. You are unique, and when you show up fully as yourself, it's as if the universe recognizes an alignment and works to empower it even further.

* Change begins with you. There is only one person you can directly change and that is yourself. As much as we do not want those close to us to suffer, as much as we want to be able to help raise them out of their suffering, ultimately that responsibility is theirs. That's not to say that you cannot be there for them, support them, provide assistance to them, however the only person you can change in this situation is you. The best thing you can do for yourself, and ultimately for anyone, is to bring yourself into a place of awareness, of presence. Being present with your loved one, not wanting anything for them, just being conscious when you're with them, gives them a space in which they might be able to begin to heal. If you find your thoughts slipping into worry regularly, take time to get out of your mind and go into your body, feeling its aliveness, several times throughout the day. Worry itself is a condition of the ego--what is worry but thoughts chasing themselves around in a circle? It serves no purpose other than to pull you into the ego and keep you trapped in a place where it is difficult to stay present. Worry pretends to be necessary, but it doesn't actually have a useful purpose--becoming aware of this will help you to step back, detach from the worry, and help you to find the present moment, the only moment, the now.

* Complaining does not serve a purpose. Complaining, like worry, has no real purpose. It's a way of getting stuck in something that has happened in the past, but nothing comes of it. Complaining isn't usually intended to help correct a situation--it is more often a side effect of taking things personally and is tied up in the need to be right and make someone else wrong. When you bring someone else into the complaining, it's the ego's way of seeking validation and strengthening your position. Now, this does not mean that you cannot take action to bring about change in a situation. Eckhart's example from the second chapter was about what happens when the soup you ordered is served cold. If you pitch a fit and complain to your dinner companions and yell at the waiter making him wrong, then the ego has taken over. However, if you take the ego out of it, you can simply state what the situation is without negativity. You aren't making the waiter wrong, your ego is not invested in the outcome, you are just looking to rectify the situation and have a delicious meal. When your goal is to resolve a situation without blame, often things go much more smoothly--as the other people involved aren't being made to feel wrong, they aren't as likely to feel the need to make you wrong, reducing or eliminating the conflict.

* Consume mindfully. Someone called in about being aware of things she shouldn't do and doing them anyway, for example eating French fries or drinking too much. Eckhart spoke about how the ego lives in a constant state of "not enough," so it is always seeking things to fill itself up, like food or alcohol or things. The problem isn't the the consumption itself--the problem is in the overconsumption, going along with the ego's "more, more, more!" mentality. So don't ban yourself from eating French fries or drinking wine or having dessert, but bring mindfulness, awareness, consciousness into your consumption. When eating French fries, eat each one consciously, enjoying it, savoring every bite. Pay attention to your body as you go. It is likely that after a few French fries, your body will send signals letting you know it doesn't need any more, whether it's that you're not hungry any longer or they just aren't as pleasurable as they were when you started. The goal is to not pass this point from enjoyment into eating the French fries because they're there or because you're sad or whatnot. You can apply this to anything. When you're drinking a glass of wine, enjoy each sip until you reach the place where you've had enough. Savor each bite of tiramisu, but put your fork down after the last bite that truly feels pleasurable. The flavor and enjoyment is usually in the first couple of bites of anything. If you are truly present and listen to your body, you won't feel the need to overdo.

As always, it's about bringing more awareness into your daily life. This moment is the only one that is real, so notice it, experience it, be truly aware of it, then let it go and move on to the next one. It is literally a life-changing process, allowing you to awaken to your own magnificence. Have a little fun with it, and let me know how it goes! Namaste.

Photo: "Hypericum Chinense - Core," originally uploaded by Jun

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