Recent Insights: February 1999

Updated: Wednesday, February 24, 1999

1. Awareness.

In reading and digesting Pema Chodron's excellent book, "When Things Fall Apart", I'm learning to direct my awareness more consciously to see what is interesting in life's upsets instead of just reacting to them in a negative manner.

It's not that I don't have reactions, but that -- at the same time as I'm reacting -- I'm also able to see that I'm reacting and direct my awareness into the reaction and into the uniqueness of what life is "throwing" at me.

This is giving me a level of detachment, some of the time, that reduces the undertow of my reactions and helps me to maintain both my sense of humor and my perspective.

I'm grateful for these times when I'm able to and committed to maintaining awareness in the midst of living.

2. Speed Demons.

Years ago, I was on Telegraph Avenue with just an hour to play and visit the stores I wanted to, I discovered myself rushing around in a very stressful way. I was making my free time unpleasant by my inner pressure to get everything done that I wanted to do.

I stopped, literally, and let the inner "speed demons" subside, and proceeded with my adventure at a much slower pace. Amazingly -- to me -- I not only got everything done and enjoyed it much more, but I was showered with additional rewards by taking the time to make better contact with those I visited.

Since then, I try to maintain awareness of when I'm feeling internal time pressure and beginning to speed up. When I can catch myself and slow down, things always go better.

3. Our Many Selves.

I am always amazed at how many different selves each of us has. As Gurdjieff and the Sufis have said, our many I's are separated by "buffers" in the mind, and often don't realize other parts exist. Our journey is to not only become aware of the contradictory parts within ourselves, but to develop communication between them and eventually integrate all into a greater whole.

One of the teachings of Freud, confirmed empirically by Dr. Eric Berne (of "Games People Play" fame), is that we have Superego (Parent), Ego (Adult), and Id (Child) parts. All too often, we either are too strict and condemning towards ourselves and others -- an over-functioning superego/inner parent; or we are too impulsive, unstructured, and spontaneous -- an unbridled id/inner child.

With time, I've become much more conscious of the clear witness (Ego/Adult) who not only can arbitrate between the other parts, but help me to step back and keep me from getting completely lost in any of the other parts of myself.

This is apparently a step towards staying "awake", and I am grateful for my growing ability to not get lost in a single part of myself.

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