I have a love / hate relationship with Spirit work.
I think we all do. That why, for the most part, we simply don’t do it. We decide to buy a few new outfits instead of a trip to an Ashram. We read People Magazine instead of the Gita, or The Power of Now. We look at our yoga mat through narrowed eyes and think, “You again? What are you going to make me come to terms with this time?”
When we find ourselves with the opportunity to do something that’s going to bring us a bit closer to our true nature, we often fall into a strange and powerful state of resistance. You can blame the ego for that.
Last weekend, I made a quick trip to the desert of California for a yoga & music festival called Shakti Fest. And from the beginning, I didn’t want to go. I leaned my back against the passenger seat and nervously tied the string of my shorts into knots.
“I don’t know if I should go anymore,” I told KC as he pulled the car to the curb. I watched the sliding doors of the airport close around a woman’s luggage. The sky was slowly turning from black, to purple, to pink as the sun woke, and KC reached out to stop my fidgeting fingers.
“That’s how you always feel,” he said. “But you always have a good time.”
He helped me to unload my two, small bags from the trunk and draped the larger one around my shoulder. He drove away, and I stood for a moment before the sliding doors with a knot in my belly where little, sleepy feet would soon be kicking from within. I rubbed the stretching skin around the waist of my pants. “I’m not so alone anymore,” I said to myself, and walked forward.
I woke the next morning in a room with thirty other women. It smelled like sweat and orange essential oils and the turkey that I had thrown into the trash the night before. The sun was already burning hot on the horizon. I nodded to my neighbors as they slowly woke and slipped on thin clothes. When I walked out onto the balcony, I knew that even the shortest, lightest dress I had packed wouldn’t be cool enough for the smoldering desert days.
Thinking about the heat, the dirt, the sunburn brought on another bought of resistance. A tap on the shoulder from my ego. I thought about calling the airline and changing my flight to that afternoon. I would go home early. Skip the whole, steaming, dusty mess entirely.
But as the sun turned the sky again from black, to purple, to pink, I paused. Smiled. And asked myself, “Who is it that’s thinking these dreadfully depressing thoughts? Is it my Spirit? Or my ego?”
I think I’m lucky to be so in touch with my ego. Her and I have spent quite a few years knocking heads and bumping elbows. Until I realized that this other self (the ego; the illusion; the separation between Me & Spirit) existed, I would often let her win. I would cancel plans. End friendships. Burn bridges and frown upon the happiness of others only because for some strange reason, misery made me feel good (in a way).
After a bit of studying and a lot of Yoga, I learned that self-sabotage feeds our separation. Since happiness & joy are our true nature – the nature of Spirit – the ego creates pain to identify with. To give it a face – a personality – of sorts. When your spirit feels bad, the ego feels good.
(Now, whenever you feel like wallowing in a pity party and ending a good relationship and fighting with someone just for the simple pleasure of the pain, pause, smile, and give a knowing nod to your Ego. Say, “Hello again, old friend. I see what you’re up to.”)
I remembered my ego then, on the balcony at Joshua Tree, and laughed at myself for letting the whole inner conflict continue on for so long. I considered what Shakti Fest was – an entire weekend of Spirit work. Yoga. Kirtan. Connection. Things that would dissolve the illusion & bring me closer to my Truth. And then it made sense. After all, nothing terrifies the ego more than the possibility of destruction.
A lot of brilliant things happened last weekend. I met my soul-sister Sherrie (from With Food + Love) for the first time outside of the internet.
I found a Goddess in the dorms who’s due to have a daughter on the same exact day as me. We touched our stretching bellies together & knew that our girls would be connected, always.
I fell in love with the idea of Sacred Sisterhood during a Red Tent ritual (another post about this is coming, my loves!)
I considered what a beautiful world it would be if we regarded all of our fellow women as Goddesses.
I met a blue jay with a crooked beak & a funny little rabbit under a Joshua Tree.
I watched strangers weep into their palms as angels sung Sanskrit from the stage.
I bowed down to red mountains rising from white sand during the day and counted the squares of light in the darkness from the balcony at night.
My back was baked by the sun; my belly colored with henna; my Ego drained and dissolved to make room for Spirit to flow freely.
The weekend came humming to an end (to quickly, if you ask me) with an airplane ride back to Texas. And just to prove a point, the Universe seated me behind a man who nervously swiped at his iPhone screen during the entire flight, trying to refresh internet pages and load his Instagram feed when there clearly was no connection to be found. My heart ached for him. I wondered how lost in his Ego he must have been at that moment, desperately trying to feed it with information, with pictures, with something, something.
It isn’t you, I thought. If only you could see.
I sat back against the dirty seat, tired and full of songs, and thanked my Ego for appearing to remind me that Spirit will always, always win.