If someone asked you, “Did you have a good weekend?” and you answered, “Yes, I sat alone mindfully dwelling inward,” would your response be totally unexpected? The answer that probably was expected was something like, “Yes, I scored the best in my bowling league, then I went with friends to a concert because my boss gave me free tickets.”
Why are humans addicted to doing this, doing that, going here and going there? We bury our true nature under the content provided by external activities. Excessive doing is avoidance of our real selves.
Caroline Myss, a spiritual author and teacher, once stated that people are more afraid of being alone than they are of dying. When we are alone — not doing but just being — we face our deepest internal selves. These deep selves contain unpleasant creations of the human mind, such as guilt over past actions, fear over future loss, anxiety over relationship issues, dislike for aspects of our body, and sadness from past events.
Enter the ego with its clever tricks.
Your ego is an aspect of the human mind that props itself up with its own self-created ideas of itself. It uses external phenomena to create ideas that mask negative thoughts and emotions. The ego conjures up cover-ups such as: I am really good at something (bowling)…I am vital to a group (bowling league)…I have lots of friends (I bowl and attend concerts with them)…I am cultured (I go to concerts)…I am important and recognized at work (my boss gives me tickets)…and I am really special (I get free stuff).
However, every concept about your life, other than a true love for living, is an invention of the egoic mind and does not really exist. Someone could easily argue against your ego’s perception of itself, saying, “You have only a few friends and you just hang out with the same couple of people all the time. And those free tickets were a fluke, ’cause stuff like that almost never happens to you.” The ego creates its illusions on shaky ground — ground that needs constant reinforcement and constant external activity or else the opposite could easily seem true. But if you spend time alone, you can learn to confront and dissolve the negative thoughts and emotions innate to the human mind.
Sit in a quiet place, alone, facing a negative thought. Sit with the issue, accept it, put space around it and just let it be. Do not let your mind wander to any other negative thoughts. Feeding a negative thought with more negative thoughts only strengthens the negativity.
For instance, if you believe your employer does not pay you enough, don’t bolster this concept by thinking, “Free tickets don’t even put a dent in what I deserve. I should just quit and see how they get along,” Instead, think, “I am underpaid, so what?” Then visualize the bigger picture of your life: Do you have enough food, water and shelter? Do you have a good life?
Don’t let life pass you by while you seethe with anger because you believe in the ego’s perception that you are underpaid. Accepting the negative thought will start to dissolve the thought. How can it be a bad thing if you accept it? The feeling derived from this acceptance is joy, even if it is only sustainable for a few brief moments at first.
Real life is being and not doing. If you are busy doing, you are missing the joy of being. Close your eyes. Quiet your mind. Then feel your heart pump, smell a rose, run your fingers over your lips, or eat a single grape very slowly. These experiences are reality. This is how you cultivate love for your life.