Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Role Playing: A New Earth Chapter 4 Webcast

The Chapter 4 webcast dove further into the ego with a discussion on role-playing.  When I read the title of this chapter, the first thing that came to mind was acting; that is, pretending to be a character, another person, an image of someone, real or imagined.

When it comes to role playing in relation to the ego, the act of pretending is sometimes very real.  There are roles we actually play and roles we’d like to play and roles we pretend to play.

There are roles and labels that we use to identify ourselves (mother, father, housewife, artist, performer, etc) but when we become completely identified with the role, we become trapped inside the role. 

And what does it mean to be fully identified with that role?  It means that when the role ends, you cannot relinquish the role when it is not required anymore.

I think of the male relatives in my family; men who were so completely identified with their occupations that when retirement came or when some external change happened that ended their job, they didn’t know what to do with themselves.  They began to question themselves and ask “Who am I?”

I think of the job changes in my own life.  My first career was as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP).  I remember several people in the field who insisted that their “title” was Speech-Language Pathologist not Speech Therapist or Speech Teacher but Speech-Language Pathologist.  You could even tell who was an SLP in certain settings by the way she dressed.  We identified ourselves not only by our job titles but by our clothing as well.

When I left that field, or should I say when external forces created an environment such that many of us lost our jobs, I, too wondered what I would do.  In some ways I was fortunate that I was at a point where I no longer desired a career in healthcare and did not feel that I had to carry-on as a Speech-Language Pathologist.  I was ready for something different.

As a Technical Writer, I felt a little more anonymous.  My role as a tech writer wasn’t identified by what I wore but more by my ability to craft sentences and put together a cohesive statement in order to get a message across.  I enjoyed my role as a writer (and still enjoy writing to this day) but I don’t think I fully identified with the role of technical writer.  I guess that was a good thing because 13 months into that job (and several months past 9/11) my role as technical writer ended.

And now here I am in yet another “role” as an artist.  Oddly enough this is the hardest role to identify with because it is hard to call oneself an artist.  It is a role I am enjoying, however, I sometimes wonder if I will continue this “role” in the future.  I sometimes think “What would I do, what would happen, if I could no longer work as an artist?”  I find this is a fair question to ask, to “test” myself on my attachment to this role.

Another way we identify with our roles is in everyday conversation.  When you first meet someone, it is very common to ask “What do you do?”  And sometimes we then make an unconscious decision as to whether or not what that person does fits into our world; into the little mental compartments that we put people.

Consider also how you speak to and act around people.  Do you speak differently to the housekeeper versus the CEO at your company?  Do you adjust the way you act when you’re around these people?  Observe this in yourself as these “adjustments” may be an indicator of your attachment to a role you play.

Our ego plays roles because it feels that it is not enough (“I am not enough”) and that we are not fully ourselves.  When we don’t play roles, there is no self, no ego in what we do.  When we can release ourselves from a role when it ends, we release ego.  When we give up defining ourselves, we come to life. 

And don’t worry about people who try to define you; they are limiting themselves and its their problem.

 


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The Core of the Ego: A New Earth Webcast Chapter 3

The New Earth webcast with Oprah and Eckhart Tolle continued its discussion on the ego this past week.  In this segment, Eckhart discussed the core of the ego.

Earlier we were introduced to the ego which was defined as that which we identify with: concepts, our story, our past.

Now it was time to discuss what makes the ego thrive.

A key to what makes the ego thrive is complaining and resentment, reactivity and grievance, faultfinding, wanting to be right, and to feel superior.

Egoic complaining is complaining that serves no purpose because it does not bring about change.  A classic example is receiving cold soup in a restaurant.  If you state the facts, “My soup is cold, may I have hot soup, please” you are stating the facts without negativity, without reaction.

However, if you state “This soup is cold you idiot.  Every time I come in here the soup is cold. Can’t you people make hot soup” you are complaining, reacting, and finding fault.

When we label people (“jerk,” “idiot”), we desensitize ourselves to that person.  When we react with force, it means we need to look within ourselves because what you react to in another, you strengthen in yourself.

When we start to complain, we need to recognize it and become aware of that inner voice.  We need to ask ourselves if this complaint is meant to bring about change or if we are complaining simply for the sake of complaining (and therefore boosting our own ego.)

If we are to be agents of change in this world, something has to change in our state of consciousness, otherwise we contribute to the turmoil.  Meditation, quieting the mind, looking to the inner body, the self and bringing awareness to the present moment are all approaches to take in promoting change within ourselves.

WORRY

Worry is a common emotion that many of us deal with in these days of turmoil.  We worry about situations and project them into the future.  “Oh how dire it will be if this happens and that happens.”  Worry can consume us.

What does it mean to worry?  It is the unconscious mind movement into the future.  You extend the situation into the future and how bad things will be.  Worry pretends to be necessary yet serves no real purpose.  Worry does not bring about change.

To step out of worry, you must ask yourself “what can I do now?”  “How can I BE NOW in this moment?”  Take responsibility for your own life and state of conciousness first.  Be with yourself, be present, and connect with the feeling of aliveness within.

Often we worry about other people.  When you ask yourself whether you can be of help to another human being, ask is there something in you that can bring about change in the conciousness of the other human being.  Can you give the person space?  Sometimes just being there is healing.

Sometimes we are so completely identified with forms that we cannot enjoy them fully because of fear or worry that we will lose them.  When this happens, I am reminded of the following story:

A guru collected tiny glass figurines because they brought him joy.  People knew how much he enjoyed these figurines and he often received them as gifts.  The guru put the figurines on a deep window sil where he could see them and enjoy them.  One day the window was left open and a strong wind came through the window.  It blew the drapes around.  The drapes caught on the figurines and brought them crashing to the ground.  The guru’s students were alarmed and afraid.  What would the guru say?  What would he do? 

As the students cleaned up the broken glass, the guru came into the room.  The students explained what happened.  The guru calmly replied “It is okay.  While the figurines were here, they gave me pleasure and made me happy.  And now they are gone; their purpose fulfilled.  It is okay.”

What you fight, you strengthen and what you resist, persists.  Make peace with whatever it is.  Be as present at you can in every moment, in any life experience or situation.

Recognize the ego in yourself and in other people.  Become aware of the ego and bring that awareness into the world.  If you don’t have a good relationship with the now, you won’t have a good relationship with life because life IS NOW.


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Its All About the Stuff: A New Earth Webcast Chapter 2

The webcast for A New Earth started delving into the ego this week.  Ouch; my brain hurts.  This is deep stuff and, admittedly, some may look at it and think What is this airy-fairy, meta-physical psycho-babble?

When you think about ego, what comes to mind?  A person who is “full” of him or herself?  Donald Trump?  Someone who is really confident?  A show-off?  Arrogance?  Aloofness?  A mansion with a Ferrari in the garage?

Whatever comes to mind are most likely labels; words used to describe someone or something.  And it is within these labels that we find ego.

Eckhart refers to all this as “self-talk;” that voice in our head that doesn’t like to shut up.  It is this self-talk that impairs our ability to relate to each other.  By labeling people and situations, by putting each other into mental boxes, we desensitize ourselves to the aliveness in each other.

Now naturally we all identify ourselves by labels, roles, opinions, nationality, race.  And this is certainly appropriate, has its place, and should be honored.  However, when we become lost in the world of labels, of conceptualization, that is when we let ego take over.  When we become so identified with these labels that we become defensive when our identity, our self-labels are questioned, we are living in ego.

The political season is a perfect example of this.

The ego creates a false sense of self based on labels, concepts, and things we identify with.  Think about advertisements in magazines and commercials on television.  It is more about selling an identity than a product.  When I harrumph at some ad, my husband always reminds me that I’m “not the target market.”  In essence, I don’t identify with the product being sold.

When we bring awareness to these old conditioned forms or behaviors, or ways of thinking, then they will drop away.  Is this easy?  No, not necessarily.  But when we increase our awareness, when we make note of these thoughts, when we bring ourselves into the present moment, then we can start to let go of ego.  And there we will find peace.

CHECK IT OUT: Christine Kane was interviewed by Alison Lee on Craftcast.  To listen go here.