‘Experiences’ are by their very nature, designed to expand us, not become us.
Eckhart Tolle, in his book A New Earth has a chapter called “Breaking Free”. Here he talks about each and every one of us having “triggers” that have come about as a part of our Human experience, mostly formed in childhood. They can be felt as intense emotional responses to various situations or people which tend to bring out the worst in us.
To begin to break free of these often destructive responses, is first to realise that we have them. “Know Thyself” he says – get to know your triggers, as your awareness can effectively give you the fleeting moment you need to realise that the emotional response is NOT in fact Who You Are. “When you don’t identify with it, the trigger can no longer control your thinking and so can no longer renew itself by feeding on your thoughts (and clouding your emotions)” (E.Tolle).
To make this easier to learn (as triggers can be tricky), let us apply Eckhart’s “Breaking Free” approach to experiences in general. Then lets deepen this approach by exploring how the Soul part of us gives us access to Compassion (for self), as an effective tool that ensures experiences ‘don’t stick’ or define us.
If experiences are meant to expand us and not become us, how do we go about this? How do we approach experiences such as:
- Losing a loved one either through death or a break up?
- A challenging relationship or job?
- Growing older, or being a young person in a culture that worships Youth?
- A spilled drink
- A parking ticket
- or a crying child
…in ways that ‘grow’ who we know ourselves to be within the experience?
Learning how to do this also holds the potential for giving us a much smoother ride through life and more of a sense of equilibrium where the lows don’t go so ‘low’.
Essentially, it is the awareness of…
It is not WHAT I do so much as it is WHO I KNOW MYSELF TO BE as I’m doing it.
Lets dive into this… Who do you currently know yourself to be?
Who is the YOU responding to the unpleasant experience? Are you identifying with the “smaller, constricted, human” part of you? or the expanded awareness of “I am a Soul having a human experience” part of you?
Why does this make such a big difference??
I’ve recently been reminded of this difference for myself.
When I respond to life’s ‘bumps in the road‘ with only my physical human smallness, I create the experience of having unpleasant, compounding emotions. Emotions that trigger other emotions-primary, secondary, and even tertiary emotions.
For example, I recently became frustrated with a situation at work (as something had been very unfair), then I felt sad about feeling frustrated (why is this happening to me), then I felt angry about feeling sad (why am I making myself the victim here, I know better). Then I just felt flat and defeated.
I had overly identified with the initial frustration so much, that it took over my thoughts and sent me spiraling down into a pot of cloudy emotion soup.
Needless to say, not that long afterwards, I began to feel stuck. Now feeling stuck is a trigger for me. It evokes strong emotional responses of powerlessness and becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. If left, it turns into depressive symptoms. “Depression is suppression (stuck), without freedom of expression” (George Sweet).
So my antidote here was emancipation by way of expression. Expression of my True Self (Human and Soul working together).
But how do I ‘un-stick’ myself enough to action my antidote??
~ Awareness ~
~ Acceptance ~
~ Compassion ~
Let me walk you through what I did…
Awareness – I took a tiny step back from myself and OBSERVED the following:
- I was aware that I was resisting the unpleasantness of my current experience
- I was aware that resistance is my indicator that I have become identified with an experience
- I was aware that resistance keeps me stuck in the emotion/s of the experience (because energy reflects energy)
- I was aware that all the resistance was attempting to tell me was that: I no longer wanted to feel the unpleasantness of ‘swimming around in a pot of emotion-soup’
Acceptance – Without judgment of the situation that I had created, I removed the resistance to it:
- I accepted what ‘was’ and stopped beating myself up for how I had responded
- I accepted that the human part of me had done it’s best
- Compassionately, I accepted that this was not the True Me
Compassion – Allowing my Soul-essence to be expressed in the physical
- With Compassion for self I asked “Who Do I Know Myself To Be?”
- With Compassion, my Soul answered… “you are not this experience, it no longer defines you”
- With Compassion for self I became aware that I am much, much bigger than this
This practice then invited and allowed the full expression of my True Self to come forward, (Human and Soul working together).
So I listened to what came next, not just with my ears but with my whole body. When I received my ‘next steps’ which were the possibilities I had not previously been able to see, I nurtured these like a new born baby.
I fed these new ideas every two hours, and I gave them plenty of love, sleep, and kindness. For they were birthed from my Soul and were delighted to be given the chance to be here.
These ‘knowings’ have taken me forward to a place of expression and expansion. I now feel equanimity within my life once again with regards to ‘all is as it should be’.
I also know that when these bumps come along again, as they inevitably will, I will have my ~ Awareness ~ Acceptance ~ Compassion ~ practice at the ready, to practice all over again.
To this Eckhart Tolle says:
“The old emotion (trigger) may then still live in you for a while and come up periodically. It may also still occasionally trick you into identifying with it again and thus obscure the knowing, but not for long. Not projecting the old emotion (trigger) into situations means facing it directly within yourself. It may not be pleasant but it won’t kill you. Your presence (awareness) is more than capable of containing it.”
Add to this mix the Compassion of your Soul-essence and you can truly experience what it feels like to “break free”.