In my early 20s, I began studying Taoist philosophy. Taoism examines ideas of harmony, balance, and the natural flow of events as the world continues to unfold. It speaks from a place where the “I” (the individual) is an integral, connected part of Nature & the Universe. Not long after, I started asking these same questions of myself & my reality. I was 21 years old, feeling alone, confused, and disconnected from the world & people around me, wasting so much mental energy trying to figure out how “I fit in” to the world… and one day, it occurred to me that when rain fell from the sky, I got wet. When the sun shone, I was warmed. In the wind, I could be blown like a leaf. The “connection to the world” that was so desperately seeking was already present. In fact, that connection was inescapable. So I started to see through this Illusion of Separation, and I thought: “I wonder how many more of my strongly-held beliefs are illusions or untrue?”
And so I began to observe & question everything in my life. What is the body, and what are its sensations? What does it mean to experience emotions, instead of pushing them away? Are my likes/dislikes real? Or just stories I’ve constructed in my mind about my “identity”? Why am I so reactive or defensive all of the time? Can I observe thoughts without engaging them? Can I observe clearly, without judgement? How can I let go of my resistance to the world and simply be blown like a leaf in the wind? …. and what would that be like in a “normal” life with a family, career, & mortgage?
Peering deeply into the nature of reality & my internal world. This was my sole practice for almost 8 years. Through this constant inquiry, I saw through many of my own misconceptions and insecurities which were causing great anxiety & suffering in my life. The practice of self-inquiry isn’t always pretty. Sometimes I was observing parts of myself that I was proud of, but most times I was sitting with & embracing my own doubts, fears, and insecurities.. and learning how not to judge them or myself for having them. During this period, I worked through a lot of “my stuff” (oh… we all have “stuff”. )… And I continue working through more on a daily basis. It’s all part of being fully human.