In "The Untethered Soul" last night, author Michael Singer made a comment that really stood out to me.
"That fortress would not be protecting you; it would be imprisoning you," (p. 135).
"The fortress" implies the mental model we all create for our lives. Where if our model is disrupted, we feel stress, anxiety, and fear.
Singer explained in that chapter how we create these mental models to be "ok" with the outside world. It's our way to control things. We have it set in our brains how things "should" be and how they "should" go. When things happen according to our model, we're happy and all is well. But when things happen to deviate from our model... all hell can break loose (depending on the specific event and the extent of deviation).
We all have these models in our heads. They're part of our personalities. So what do we do about them? How do we prevent a disrupted model from causing us anxiety and getting upset?
"Stop defining the disturbing mind as a negative experience; just see if you can relax behind it. When your mind is disturbed, don't ask, 'What do I do about this?' Instead ask, 'Who am I that notices this?' ... [T]he center from which you watch the disturbance cannot get disturbed," (p. 135).
So basically just be aware. Don't jump into the disturbance with your thoughts, letting yourself swirl down that black hole of fear and anxiety (we've all been there). Just observe. Notice your feelings and emotions. Hear to your ego mind freak out and try to control the situation and "fix" it. There's nothing to fix. Relax and just go with it. It's all ok.
"What it means to live spiritually is to not participate in this struggle. It means that the events that happen in the moment belong to the moment. They don't belong to you. They have nothing to do with you. You must stop defining yourself in relationship to them, and just let them come and go. Don't allow events to leave impressions inside of you. If you find yourself thinking about them later on, just let go," (p. 134).
Just let go. Let go and Love. That's it. What it all breaks down to.
We like to think what we do is to protect ourselves. It's our ego trying to protect us. Or rather, protect itself.
To use an example from my own life, I'll use the first one that comes to mind. I know I've talked about it lots on here, and you may be getting tired of hearing about "my story." But it's the prominent thing that came to mind because so much fear was behind it. My boyfriend's ex-wife.
In "round one" of our relationship (the first two years we were together, before the break), I was majorly living in fear. A huge fear and false belief of mine is that I'm not important. And that the people I love don't really love me much in return. That I'm not valuable or worth much.
For me, this has manifested in relationships in the form of jealousy, possessiveness, and insecurity. I was constantly afraid that the person I was with would find someone else they liked more and leave me in a second. So I didn't get too invested. I was always on guard. My walls were always up.
This played out, in "round one" of my relationship by me being really scared of my boyfriend's ex-wife. Scared that he'd realize he did connect with her better than me and go back to her. It didn't matter how many times he assured me that would never happen (it was a lot of times). It didn't matter that she was in another relationship herself. My fear was out of control.
So I started avoiding any contact with her. (We would occasionally be in the same social setting as her, since she and my boyfriend still share some friends.) Then I told my boyfriend he had to avoid all contact with her. I thought I'll just shut her out of our lives completely, and we'll be fine. I'll be fine.
I was imprisoning myself. Not protecting myself.
I was building walls so high. Walls made of fear. It was an awful place to live. I was certainly not free. And I was not happy either. That's why our relationship didn't survive.
My attempts to control external situations and people didn't ever allow me to rest. I had to be even more on guard. My fear had taken over and was running everything. Once I built my walls (of no contact with the ex-wife), I had to monitor those walls. Vigilantly. Man, this is stressing me out just remembering how I was.
Yet, I thought I was protecting myself. Protecting myself from future pain and hurt. Holding on to my boyfriend the only way I knew how.
Thankfully I see a better way now. A more peaceful way. Just love. Let go. Open in Love. I'm no longer living in my fortress. I no longer feel imprisoned. And you know, I don't feel that I need the "protection" either.
You can do it too. Open your heart. Stay open. Realize that everything is for your good. There's nothing to be afraid of. Nothing to block out. Nothing to guard against.
(Side note: If you're actually in an abusive relationship, or the potential for physical harm to you is real, that's totally different. Protect yourself there!)
The whole imprisonment vs. protection topic also makes me think of work. I have likened jobs of mine in the past to feeling like I was in prison, many times. When I'd walk into the school building for the day, I literally felt like I was walking into a prison. And I felt like each day I was "stuck" in that school for those restricted hours, a little bit of my soul died. Dramatic? Probably. But it's how I felt. And it's also how I knew, without a doubt, that I had to get out of that job (and others when I got to that point).
Some people view their jobs as protection. It pays them a paycheck, so they can pay their bills. It may provide health insurance. It's what they believe they "should" be doing with the hours of their days.
Working at a job certainly isn't a bad thing. But when it starts to feel like you're stuck, like you're imprisoned, it's not a good place for your Spirit.
Bottom line, and my lesson in all of this, is to stop imprisoning myself! And stop imprisoning yourself! We are meant to be free. Free to love. Free to do what makes our heart sing. Free to do what we feel our Spirit guiding us to do.
Too often our own thoughts are our prisons. Let them go. Let them go and step into freedom!