We need to remember that life comes as moments. One of my favorite stories is about how the Dalai Lama upon hearing some tragic news, began to cry. Then several minutes later, he was smiling and laughing. The Dalai Lama truly embraces how life comes as moments. He doesn’t hold onto that sadness forever – he moves on. It doesn’t mean that the Dalia Lama’s not sincere. He just goes with the flow and accepts things as they are.
Sometimes I have a big ego, but I am learning to soften it. My ego presents itself as self-important, special, and seeking approval. I need to address my ego so that I can become aware of how strong it can be and work on transforming it.
One way to soften the ego is through compassion. Compassion for yourself and for others. When I am with my dying patients, I am compassionate and my ego takes a back seat. The hospice environment is easy for me to be compassionate. However, I need to learn how to transfer that same compassion into different situations.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, compassion means, “Sympathetic consciousness of other’s distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” I think the key word here is “consciousness.” We need to become aware that we all go through difficult times and we need compassion for each other. My friend Harriet who is from Africa says, “I seek humanity.” These are powerful words. We are all one. However, the ego may not like the fact that we are all one.
The mind likes to compare, judge, and analyze. The mind observes how well or how terrible we are “doing” in life. The ego can rise up to either praise or criticize. My mantra right now (to deal with the critical mind) is to sing the three words from the “Frozen” song: Let it go. Let it go…
We all have an ego. It keeps us alive. Joan Halifax who is a Zen Buddhist Teacher says, “We believe that it takes a strong back and a soft front to face the world.” That soft front is compassion.
Last night I had the most amazing dream. I dreamt that I was breathing underwater. I was about 20 feet under water. I remember the water being very clear, and I could see the surface of the water. While I was floating, I saw two other human beings. They were floating near each other while I was floating away from them. I was so excited that I could breathe under water! While I was breathing, one of the human beings told me that I would die if I continue to breathe the water. I didn’t listen to the human, and slowly a bright light started to descend into the water. It was a beautiful white light. As it saturated the water, I realized I was dying, and I woke up from the dream.
So what does this dream mean? According to gotohoroscope.com: To dream that you can breathe underwater also shows that you have obtained complete mastery over your emotions. Many times in dreams the sea or the ocean or any body of water will be representative of your emotional state. When you are on a boat, you are showing that you have the ability to navigate through all of your complex emotional responses. However, when you are swimming in the water and don’t even need a boat, then this suggests that you have an even greater mastery than could have previously been seen. You are extremely in touch with yourself. (See more at: http://www.gotohoroscope.com/txt/dream-dictionary-breathing-underwater.html).
I agree with the above statement. I feel like I am in touch with myself and my emotions. I can experience my emotions, and then let them go. In the past, I was so judgmental about my emotions. In my mind, I think I should have felt this way….or I should not have shown a particular emotion to someone. Now I realize at that moment; I felt that way. I am responsible for my feelings. Therefore, if I didn’t hurt anyone, I can let them go.
I like the quote from, Awaken Joy, by James Baraz: “I’ve see the Dalai Lama get very serious, even cry, upon hearing about a tragedy and then, as the subject changes, laugh a few minutes later. His complete openness to the sorrows of the world lets him also be touched by delight, goodness, and joy when these arise.”
I was glad to read that even the Dalai Lama will cry sometimes. The Dalai Lama is fluid with his emotions; without being attached to them. He is present moment by moment.
Here is a mindful approach to working with difficult emotions (taken from Awakening Joy, by James Baraz):
RAIN -When you are in the midst of a strong emotion, take a few moments to try this approach:
- Recognize what you are feeling and name it (label it). Anger, fear, sadness, confusion?
- Allow the feelings to be present, without pushing them away and without getting lost in them.
- Investigate the feelings in your body and mind. Where in your body do you feel it? How does it feel in your mind – heavy, tight, open, agitated?
- Non-identification is the key to freeing yourself from the emotion’s grip. What you are feeling is a human emotion that arises and passes away. It does not define who you are.