Here’s the thing: I am usually good at keeping to myself and not sharing any of my business with others. I’ve developed and honed this personality both out of a neurotic protection of my ego and also because it is a helpful practice for self-containment. More than that, I’ve learned to be even less informative about my specific spiritual practices. So normally I wouldn’t share many of the things I’m about to share now; but it was placed on my heart to do so and I am choosing to be obedient.
In my last blogpost I revealed a burning question I asked th head of our spiritual lineage when she last visited from NY. I was hoping to get some guidance on how I could become less involved in the pleasures of the world and more focused on Purpose. Being Hedonistic means having a balance between work and play. My true work, sadhana, must be aligned with how much I indulge in pleasurable activities. I’ve had a hard time with making that happen and was feeling unsatisfied, anxious and self-loathe because of it. Her reply was not the one I was hoping to receive but exactly what I needed to hear. In the traditional guru style of “discover the answer for yourself,” I was directed to read Chasm of Fire by Irina Tweedie. I felt rebuffed but intent on forcing a real answer out of her. I figured the only way I could approach the subject again is if I had actually read the book so I rushed out of the Ashram and headed to the closest major book chain. I convinced myself that I was being a dutiful disciple by being so eager to buy and read the book as quickly as possible. But the truth is, the sneaky ego was pushing me forward, saying: “I’ll show her. I’ll read this book in one day then come back to get a REAL answer to my question.”
It is wonderful how Life supports the intentions of our passionate souls and not so much the intentions of our well-meaning but misguided egos. I could not find the book anywhere in the city and had to rely on my dear Heart to mail it to my house. So I wasn’t going to get a chance to “show her” by reading the book and getting her to revisit my question.
I read the book anyway, switching my focus from hoping the guru would answer my question to searching for the answer within its pages. I was content with the prospect of finding inspiration there because every book one of the masters asked me to read have been greatly helpful to my practice. Surely I was going to have the much-needed “aha moment” to get me right on track.
I disliked the book. I felt like it didn’t address what I was going through, was repetitive and to be frank, the story did not interest me much. Luckily, I’m well-practiced in looking at the helpful side of things instead of focusing on the negatives so I began to look for at least two things I could use for my life. The idea of doing something for 40 days in order to garner a specific outcome (health, wealth, relationships, strength, emotional balance, etc.) was something that intrigued me so I decided to implement this technique. My ego whispered: “if this doesn’t ‘work’ then I will certainly be able to throw this book back in her face and say ‘I read the book. I even tried some things it recommended but It did nothing for my problem, now will you please actually Help me!?'”
I chose to fast for 40 days, from Midnight to 6pm, and added an extra meditation practice to my daily routine. I also decided not to have a specific outcome attached to this practice, as recommended by traditional thought. I have learned, due to previous experience with changing my spiritual practice in order to “get something,” that it becomes something for my ego to focus on rather than an actual goal to achieve. Life perfectly knows what I need. Therefore I allowed myself to be open to the all of the possibilities and outcomes of this practice rather than limiting Life to one specific thing.
I believe it was important for me to make that decision. If I had focused on “stronger meditation practice,” or “relationship clarity,” or “improving communication with others,” then the progress or lack of progress I made towards that one particular goal may have been all I could recognize. However, by consciously creating an Expectation Void, Life was able to come in and fill it with exactly what I needed.
40 days changed my life. 1) I meditate differently, with less distractions and more focus and clarity. 2) The mantra “Om Namah Shivaya Shiva” is more often with me than it ever has before, and I notice its presence growing just a little bit every day. 3) I got to see exactly what tricks my ego uses to convince me out of diligent practice. I noticed the words I use to convince myself that “meditating tonight doesn’t really matter,” and the pull I have towards being socially accepted when everyone else is having brunch but I cannot. This type of self-awareness will surely be profoundly helpful when confronted with similar decisions in the future. 4) The relationship I was in that only served my ego and pleasure centers has peacefully dissolved and passed away. 5) I’ve been offered a stable job after months of just getting side work here and there. In addition, a stable part-time job to support other intentions in my private life. 6) I’ve begun running toward, instead of habitually running away from, developing a relationship with the one who shares my Soul. 7) I see God (Beauty, Connection and Love) in more and more things everyday. 8) And on Christmas Eve, just hours before the beginning of my 40th day of this sadhana, I finally received a verbal response to my original question. But had I not already lived myself into the answer, the words would have not made sense to me at all.
These are just the results and lessons that I am capable of articulating. I’m confident that the consequences of my decision to give 40 days has set off an eternity of ripples in Life’s oceans, the vast majority of which I will never see or know.
I do not know why Life wanted me to write this blog. I’m thinking it’s just one of those things we do in obedience; without knowing the “why” but standing confident in the Process of our faith, doing things we do not fully understand. I am privileged to be in this place. Thank You.