Most people dig the concept of ego relaxation. I often share it during interviews or Shift Network courses and people love the sound of it. That’s usually because most of us are so exhausted from the incessant stress caused by the sheer pace of contemporary life. I don’t mean to negate the immense difficulty and suffering that so many have experienced from Covid but one of the silver linings of this collective initiation that we have been through is that it did actually bring things to a bit of a stop for a while. That has been useful because we all needed a bit of a break to just let our lives go a bit slower. This is inevitably useful for spiritual practice too because when you’re so busy, you don’t have time to feel anything or time to contemplate “Who am I? Why am I running around quite this fast, or this hard? For what purpose really? Who is the one that thinks that’s a good way to be or that makes sense?” But beyond just the superficial “Oh God, I’m so exhausted… Ego relaxation? Yay!” actually, living this – staying present, feeling everything, doing nothing to change, fix or rearrange our ego – is a whole other matter. It usually takes years to really start to understand it and to work with it in a real way because it’s the opposite of how we’ve been navigating life all this time. It’s actually a very advanced spiritual practice and you’ll find echoes of it in Tilopa’s words of advice, that forms the essence of Mahamudra meditation. You’ll find it in “be still” which is the essence, the quintessence, Ramana said. You will find it in all spiritual practice.
Relaxing out of your familiar ego patterns is so much easier when you recognize what it is that you abide within. Any practice which helps you to recognize what you abide within – that all your experiences, your ups and downs, the joys and sorrows – are happening within something much larger. They happen within infinite great peace, infinite loving acceptance, presence, spaciousness, God.
Supportive practices like the Mountain of Presence where you sense the ground under your feet actually help you to come out of following and identifying with your thoughts and memories into here-now-this where we recognize that we are objectively safe. “I’m not about to get eaten by a wild tiger or run over by a bus right now. I can actually just be here, stay present, feel everything, do nothing and see what happens.”
Mantras also help us. They give us a foundation to settle. I’ve always found mantras incredibly helpful in moments when I’ve been scared or moments when I notice ego activity cranking up, or when a defense mechanism is sort of reconstituting itself. They provide a way to turn my consciousness into God. Sometimes just saying the name of God has also worked for me, probably because by nature I’m very devotional. I feel a lot of love for reality, for God and it’s a mighty muscle. And so, implicit in everything that we do, we’re building that kind of musculature. Through the mantras, the prayers, the simple somatic cues (wiggling your toes, butterflying your knees), lines of inquiry that point your awareness to recognize and receive. This all helps us to soften, open, allow our experience. It gives us more musculature and a bigger foundation, more capacity, just to help a human soul be here and relax and then allow that relaxation to go further and deeper.
With love to you and peace to our world,
Excerpt from the transcript of a teaching on ‘Graceful Dissolving’ delivered to the Living Grace Global Sangha on 25 July 2021. Click here to receive brand new teachings via downloadable audio each month.
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