A day of so-called self-enhancement started with watching a Sesame Street episode that re-taught me a handful of ethics and some forgotten self-compassion, as I babysat my friend’s 18-month-old daughter. A counseling session, a massage, a few hours of reading, and a Yin yoga class followed the #SesameStreetWisdoms morning. The day rounded out with meditation and a Dharma talk (sharing Buddhist teachings) in the evening. I returned home to catch the last 15 minutes of Dancing with the Stars, but I’m not convinced that is part of the so-called self-enhancement.
The day of personal exploration left me feeling more uncertain than enlightened, but that is all part of the process – and it is the process that matters, or the intention. Not the outcome.
Today, struggling with thoughts instead of clearing them up, I recognized a few lessons for myself. And, of course, they are also contradictory.
Share when you want to hoard.
“No sweet girl, that’s my phone,” I told the toddler as she reached for the cell phone. “My phone,” she replied. “It’s my phone honey,” I kindly debated.
The next words stumbled out of her mouth as if she didn’t mean to say them. “Our phone,” she responded. Yes, of course. Our phone. She relented some of her ground, she took the first step, and it made everything right. So I also relented and she climbed up on the couch with me and we took pictures of ourselves. Our phone.
When I don’t feel good about myself, I want to keep as much energy as I can because I think I need it to feel better. But when I share that energy – even if it’s just an honest smile with a stranger or letting a toddler mis-text someone on my phone – that’s when I really feel good about myself.
Open when you want to protect.
I visited my counselor after a substantial hiatus because I noticed some old patterns and reactions surfacing. Since we’re being honest here (first blog post), jealousy is a concern high on the list.
It didn’t hit me like it has in the past, but I noticed it twirling in the depths of the Macbeth witch pot. I saw it wanting to reach up and grab my heart, mind, and ego.
In the session, I told the counselor of this girl in middle school whom I admired and wanted to emulate. I started learning world geography and watching James Bond movies in seventh grade, because she liked them and I wanted to be like her. Our education and careers since middle school actually took parallel paths, and she recently achieved goal in her career that I really respect and envy. I began comparing myself against her, again, like in middle school.
Jealousy actually stems from admiration. When we want to protect our ego, our vulnerabilities, our stories – we could actually open into them instead of hiding in them. When we open into what we are scared of and want to protect, that’s when we begin to heal.
Be when you want to flee.
I don’t want to be here. I laid in the yoga class, thinking this would be the perfect end to a perfect day, and it wasn’t. My mother and I had gotten into a re-occurring discussion, apparently an emotionally loaded dialogue for me, waiting for the yoga studio to open. I wanted to leave and be by myself; I was done opening and sharing for the day.
But, the yoga teacher showed up. I had grand dreams in my head of telling her that I was actually going to leave – that it wasn’t her, it was me – but I was just not in the “right” present presence for yoga.
Although, all of the presence is the right present. It is right, because it’s happening now. During the yoga class and the Dharma talk I resisted most of it, but that’s ok, because even though I didn’t want to be there, I was there.
For every moment (or at least most of them) I was there. Fully.
And for me, right now, I think that’s enlightenment.