This week we are delving into the second shield of the Ego: Our beliefs and how we translate them in our spoken, written or artistically interpreted world. This shield “represents how we use beliefs of all kinds to give us the illusion of certainty about the nature of reality.” (Pema Chodron, The Places that Scare You)
How do we react when our beliefs are challenged? Do we dig in deep, certain that we are correct because we feel a certain way? One of the first steps to understanding this shield is to know that fear of the unknown sits behind this shield – it is the backdrop for this behavior. How do we act, live, love, or find purpose if our beliefs about the world are not correct? “Correctness” gives us solidity, righteousness, the ability to shoot others down when they present something that shakes the ground underneath our feet. So how exactly do we deal with this?
Meditation is key to finding our way through this shield of the Ego. When we sit and do any contemplative practice, we allow the opening in the wall (bodhichitta) and allow vulnerability to take place of the walls in our mind, we can overcome this fear. We start to see that everything has shades of illusion attached to it – how we see situations, beliefs, opinions, etc, is all colored by how we react to the shifting nature of life.
Meditation has the ability to change our reactions. When we sit, even for 5 seconds or 5 minutes or 5 hours, we allow the spinning of our minds to slow. The veils of reality that we have constructed (our beliefs) affect our internal sight less and less, and we are stronger and more able to see life as it is. This may sound like what you have heard before about meditation, but its true. It’s not instantaneous, like a cup of coffee gives you instant brain power. It’s a slow drop in the bucket. You start to see the world as it rotates, life as it rushes by. As someone recently said to me, you are no longer inside the egg looking out, but outside the egg, looking in. You’re still next to and involved with the egg, but you aren’t consumed by it. You’re not riding the roller coaster – you’re the mechanic, noting how it functions. Listening for the squeaky wheel or loose nut.
So how do you start to put this into effect? It’s surprisingly easy. Start sitting for 60 seconds a day. Set a timer on your phone, and just sit and breathe for 60 seconds. If you have trouble doing that, then count how many inhales and exhales you take in a minute. Over time, you will start to feel the deceleration happen faster and faster, while your mind gets better and better at slowing down. Try it for a week and email me the results!