“When I don’t know who I am, I seek you. When I know who I am, I am you.”
This profound statement about spirituality and one’s true self was quoted in a brief documentary I recently watched on Netflix, called “Ram Dass: Going Home”. I was deeply impacted by the message of the documentary, which was the unfiltered beauty that lives within each of us if we can separate our identity from our vessel (body) and our life circumstances. The quote refers to God/Buddha/Source, and our relationship to the Divine. It suggests that when we truly find ourselves, we are one with the Divine. The ego, or self-consciousness, seeks to protect us from looking foolish or otherwise behaving in a manner that draws negative attention. We have become a society completely obsessed with appearances, though, which has had the effect of perpetuating shallowness and superficiality, and has created a barrier to really connecting with our vulnerability.
As a therapist, I often encourage my clients to communicate from a place of vulnerability, and to name their fears. It’s not comfortable to feel vulnerable; it makes us feel exposed to hurt or shame. Vulnerability by its definition feels unsafe, but within the relationship we have with a significant other or with ourselves, vulnerability is a strength. Fear so often keeps us from realizing our full complement of life experiences, and limits us from doing things that feel scary or uncomfortable. I have long felt that I would love to be able to care less about how others see me.
In the documentary “Ram Dass: Going Home”, the main narrator is Ram Dass, a seeker, a guru, a physically challenged, elderly man. Throughout his journey, much of which involved the use of psychedelics, he has found what seems like the most beautiful serenity and appreciation for suffering. He uses the mantra, “I am loving awareness”. That’s such a profound and humble statement, and one that encourages a sense of being connected to all things. He suggests that we live many existences as our consciousness moves through time and space, and that we are constantly learning and growing.
How much attention and energy do we give to things that are unimportant and petty, or even destructive? And how would a reminder that “we are loving consciousness” impact the significance we assign to those ego-driven conflicts and limitations? If we are loving consciousness that is timeless, we go through a continuing cycle of birth and death, and it is all beautiful.
In recent years, the use of psychedelics in psychotherapy has become widely valued and respected as a means of alleviating anxiety, especially with people who have terminal diagnoses. Ayahuasca ceremonies have become somewhat common, especially in South America. Ayahuasca is a brew made of certain psychoactive plants and herbs, and it produces a sort of “acid trip”, during which a person is able to see things from a higher perspective, beyond one’s ego. It’s a fascinating phenomenon, to have the veil lifted from one’s eyes and to be able to see things from a higher, more evolved, loving perspective.
I’m not advocating for the broad use of psychedelics, but the idea of getting out of our own heads and being able to ground ourselves and connect with our loving consciousness is a worthwhile practice. Meditation is an effective means of accessing our loving consciousness and cultivating inner peace. There are simple activities that are meditative, outside of sitting in lotus position and focusing on your breath. Walking in nature, swimming or yoga, for instance, are all activities that produce a somewhat meditative state. Ram Dass’s mantra, “I am loving consciousness”, is a beautiful phrase. Find a mantra that feels true to you: I choose love…I am made of love…I am one with all things…I am supported by love… I choose calm.
Spirituality is the adhesive that can mend the contentiousness in the world. Spirituality is separate from any religion, although there is spirituality within all religions. Whatever spirituality means to you, it’s a path to being connected to a higher consciousness or energy. Your “higher power” can be the best, most evolved version of yourself, or it can be the Universe or God, as you understand Him/Her. Find opportunities to “opt out” of the angry conflicts and superficial underpinnings of modern society, even for just a moment here and there. You are more than your ego, you are beautiful and you are love.
If you’re struggling to feel grounded or dealing with other emotional, relational, life challenges, reach out to one of our skilled therapists at Life Skills Resource Group.