There are myriad things we can do for ourselves on any given day. We can workout, read, write, get a massage, eat a kale smoothie, read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle…the list goes on.
But I believe that the healthiest thing you can do for yourself is to let go of yourself. What do I mean by that?
First, by ‘yourself,’ I mean our egoic self. That’s the you that you’ve cobbled together for decades under the false assumption that it would protect you from the vagaries of life. It’s the you that feels the need to feel superior to others, that feels slighted at a verbal dig, that has to feel ‘right’ while everyone else is ‘wrong’.
Examples where we want to let go
Here are some situations in our daily lives where we want to let go of ourselves.
– Somebody cuts you off in traffic and you immediately feel the bile rising up, wanting to explode through your head like lava out of Krakatoa. Let go of yourself.
– A colleague at work spouts off at you about how horrible/great Trump is and, depending on your political persuasion, you immediately become incensed and get ready to prove how wrong your colleague is. Let go of yourself.
– You and your girlfriend are embroiled in a war because the dishes have piled up in the sink for two days and you both feel the other should do them. Let go of yourself and do the dishes.
Catching myself from exploding
– Here’s an example that happened to me an hour ago. My son had a sports training session at 11 a.m. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 10:59. He was late to his first session last week so I burst out of my office to see if he and my wife had left. I yelled out my son’s name to see if he was still home. My wife responded, “Still here. Leaving now. Unless you want to take him.” After no more than a millionth of a second passed, she said, “No? Didn’t think so.”
Just a little dig at me. Nothing earth-shattering, yet annoying nonetheless. But lucky me, I was writing this article when it happened! Perfect timing for me to let go.
So what did I do? In other words, what is a practical way we can let go of ourselves during these situations? The best technique I’m aware of comes from the great master Mickey Singer, bestselling author of The Untethered Soul and The Surrender Experiment.
Mickey suggests relaxing and releasing at the moment we feel that egoic pang in our gut. I call it relax and let go.
Here’s how it works. Like all effective spiritual techniques it’s simple. I’ll use my example. When my wife said, “You don’t want to take him? Didn’t think so,” I immediately felt that anger pang in my stomach.
-Step one: I resisted the urge to come back with my own snide comment.
-Step two: I closed my eyes and took five to ten seconds to relax my head, chest and stomach.
-Step three: I let that feeling go. Mickey Singer calls it releasing. I call it letting go.
And I add one more thing: I imagine a little bubble of air rising from my stomach, making its way up and out of the top of my head and disappearing into the ether.
It’s a little piece of my egoic self that I’ve let go. It’s gone. Forever.
If we do that just once it’s not going to have much of an impact. Because that little bubble is only a small part of a large cauldron of egoic stew roiling within all of us.
But when we do that time after time, day after day, month after month, year after year, we transform ourselves. Just by letting go. And letting go. And letting go…
Spiritual seekers often believe they need to add to themselves. By reading great spiritual books and eating the right foods and things like that.
The truth is, we don’t need to add anything to ourselves. All we need to do is subtract from ourselves, namely subtract, or let go of, our egoic selves. The beautiful, peaceful, compassionate conscious self within us all just needs all the egoic gunk smothering it to be let go.
I’ve been on my spiritual quest for almost a decade now. And while I am a LONG way from eliminating my egoic self (just ask my wife!), I have made steady progress.
The less David Gerken the better
Friends and family have commented in these past years that I seem calmer, nicer and more compassionate. I tell them the reason this is so is because there is less David Gerken in me. I’ve slowly but surely been showing him the door.
And boy does that feel good. Because the less there is of us the lighter and more luminous we feel.
Again, I’ve got a long way to go. But the key for me, as it is for everybody on this planet in my humble opinion, is to simply chip away, steady as she goes, at ourselves.
Before we can do that, however, we have to first acknowledge the necessity of eliminating our egoic selves. Why eliminate something you don’t think needs eliminating?
Buddha and Eckhart
Well, don’t take it from me. Take it from people like the Buddha, whose central aim was elimination of the self, otherwise known as reaching a state of nirvana.
Eckhart Tolle, Mickey Singer and a host of other spiritual heavyweights, past and present, also placed elimination of the egoic self at the top of the pyramid.
Vigilance is imperative
Once you’ve made this determination, the next step is to be vigilant in recognizing when our egoic self is rearing its insidious head. This really is the most important step in the whole process. Why?
Because we are so used to reacting to the demands our all-powerful egoic selves exact upon us that we don’t even realize when it’s happening. We’ve been acting like this our entire lives so it’s hard to catch ourselves. Bottom line: We have to devote significant attention to becoming aware when our egos act up.
Because it’s only then that we can get to the all-important step three where we relax inside our heads and bodies for a short time and then let that small bubble of egoic self rise up and out of us, making us a little bit lighter, a little more awakened and just plain happier.