First, this from the Enneagram Institute’s daily quotes:
Wisdom teaching about waking up: “Awareness is vitally important in the work of transformation because the habits of our personality let go most completely when we see them as they are occurring.”
I’m sitting in a meeting and someone I don’t care for much, speaks up. No surprise, I don’t like their idea. A very non-spiritual, unenlightened or even kind thought crosses my mind. I catch it almost as quickly. I’m immediately disappointed in myself. I note that the thought comes with a feeling of tension in my belly and irritation. I breath to relax and notice my left toes are curled up in my shoe. I release them. Another breath, but my chest is tight. My brain is wanting to give a rebuttal to my colleague. History has taught me the rebuttal will fuel more than I care for. I hold my tongue, but feel the effort causes my jaw to tighten. I breathe again, and relax my face and shoulders.
I now notice my thoughts are quickly winding into a story. I ask myself, “Why are you telling yourself this story now?” The answer back is “I’m still irritated and I’m right.” Since I’m not giving that impulse to rebut my colleague’s statements sway, my brain is unleashing the tension in some sordid tale where I, of course, am more brilliant, kinder, innovative than my counterpart in the meeting. I breathe again. I feel the boat that sails on the sea of peace within me listing a good bit. I feel my deep desire to be right, to have greater influence over the meeting battling inwardly with the part of me deeply rooted in peace, that wants to let go of this whole mental and emotional affair I’ve got going.
My mind suddenly throws up a picture of an old circus ride from my youth. The Gravitron which spun you round and round with centrifugal force. I feel like I’m watching myself on one side of the ride and feeling myself on the opposing side, simultaneously.
I check in, my toes are curled up again. I unravel them, take another breath, and loosen my tongue that I’ve cemented to the roof of my mouth, apparently, to not speak up. I’m still irritated, but the self-inquiry has infused curiosity in there, too. I feel a sense of command over my reactiveness arriving, that’s comforting somehow.
I breathe again and relax my butt cheeks, loosen my hands in my lap, undo the tension that’s grown behind my eyes. The activity has taken me off my colleague. The meeting has moved on. No decisions were made. I feel relief. I relax. I note the pettiness of my thoughts, the need to grab control over an outcome I desire, the tension that built, the emotional ride I took myself on all aloft inside of me. I breathe again, letting it all go with a growing commitment.
I query myself on what is at the heart of this? Why does this person’s character disturb me so or their ideas?
The answers arrive like parade floats passing across my mind. I’m competitive: a familiar idea and I feel the yucky feeling of catching that in me, yet again. They have a condescending tone when they speak to me. I feel that even yuckier twinge of unworthiness or ‘less than’ vibe roll through. If I’m wholly honest, I might have to admit they are smarter than me. Again, competitive, and an idea I’m not willing to concede quite yet. An amused smile crosses my lips as I catch my own arrogance. I feel the outcome on the issue is outside my control, and feel a helplessness there. I dig down deeper and sense a boredom in the meeting and have the very unpleasant realization, that some of this internal drama was simply to give my mind something to engage. That might be the most unflattering notion to me of all of them. Drama as a kind of mental amusement. My desire to rebut likely had a need for attention, too. Huh… some self-esteem issues there and I’m finding the ‘drama as antidote for boredom’ returning to my mind, as if it has bells on its feet.
I move from looking inward to looking outward. I see the politics of the issue that are affecting my colleague and me. I sense the uncomfortable temperature of the room and the length of time I’ve been in the meeting and how all of those, too, are affecting what is happening to me here.
I check in. My toes are curled up in both shoes now, my shoulders have risen up, my breathing is shallower, stomach tight, the irritation – now focused on myself – has grown. I don’t care for much of this, but also see the value in witnessing these things in myself. I don’t try to change what I’m seeing. I breathe and let myself see them as I detach from them. I feel my meditation practice in full swing. I am a witness to my personality’s various machinations. They are there, noted honestly, but I focus on offering myself compassion. I breathe into it. Unravel everything one more time, only this time, I keep going for several minutes. I focus on a point just outside the window. I let the noise of the meeting pass over me, as clouds traveling the breadth of the sky. I stay this way until I feel myself return to a monk sitting quietly in the conference room chair.
Now, I am ready to practice some ho’oponopono with my colleague. The Hawaiian prayer of forgiveness, “I love you, please forgive me, I’m sorry, thank you”. By the time I begin, I see the gifts I’ve been given of insight into my personality’s weird little dynamics. I’ve had the chance to disengage the machine and return myself to center. The boat floating inwardly on my sea of peace is no longer listing.
When I begin the Hawaiian prayer I mean every word. My colleague has not changed at all, and I may never be close friends with them, but the part of me that was attaching who I am, to who they are, has been unhooked. As such, I can see them more clearly. They, like me, have the same little shit show going on inside their personality. That single insight softens my heart tremendously. A gift to me of awareness. I’ve been shown something and given the chance to practice a new pathway, charter a new course. I don’t ask myself for perfection. I might have to repeat this little scene at some other point today, tomorrow or next week. This is the path. I am not the same at the end of the meeting, as I was at the beginning. As the quote indicates I am, by means of my awareness, transformed.
Day in, day out, this is the road we travel. Thousands of years meditators have been walking this path. I am comforted to know I am in good company.
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