Enlightenment hit me this morning while I was walking the dog.
It wasn’t a dramatic thing. I didn’t stop drinking my coffee or walking the dog. It was a quiet realization that I had stopped my compulsive, repetitive and incessantly negative thoughts.
Let me back up.
I woke up having overslept so I couldn’t do my sitting practice, and while I wasn’t late, if I didn’t get sidetracked by anything I could get to the morning yoga class that I teach. I noticed while in the shower how irritated I was with everything; I wasn’t getting what I wanted pretty much everywhere in my life. I was listening to my imaginary story about how I was being screwed over by everybody, and furthermore how they would continue to screw me over until I gave them my ultimatum and walked out!
Oh, what I would say to these people! Who do they think they are anyway? I could even hear my father’s voice in my head yelling (he’s always yelling) “These bastards just won’t let us live!” So by the time I had gotten through the shower, shaving, brushing my teeth, putting on my clothes, kissing my wife and daughter, pouring my coffee, and last but not least, walking the dog, I had a pretty good head of steam going (Now I know where that expression comes from).
I would master my domain by sheer domination. I am the Shadow Warrior! (my signature pose) I would lay to waste any fool that was stupidenough to happen into my way. Oh, and why is the Chihuahua sniffing around too much and pissing too little? Doesn’t he get that I have somewhere I have to be?
Finally the noise in my head got so loud and had so much momentum that I could step back a little and witness it. So simple a thing to do. So elegant. I am so grateful. The moment I could simply observe my thoughts like they were some body else’s they stopped. I couldn’t not see how self-righteous and angry they were.
How self-perpetuating and at war with reality they were—how much of the time I live in that mindset.
Blaming everyone and everything else for what’s not working in my life. It’s no wonder I feel like a victim most of the time. That’s the quality of conversation that’s going on in my head! Something happens and I react and then think about it, then usually act out of that emotional reality, which is usually anger, and then react some more I then think about it and on and on, turning it into a self-perpetuating, self-justifying, self-pitying story.
The story of how I’m a victim. Frustrated and helpless. And since that’s the conversation that’s dominating my thoughts, that’s the evidence I see in the world. In acting out, I attract all the evidence I need which in turn validates my position of victimhood which dominates my thoughts and therefore my reactive and subsequent acting out. The never-ending story continues on and on and on. Lifetimes. Forever.
This morning I witnessed the noise and it dissolved.
The noise just ceased. Peace. Freedom. How much easier it is to see just how much I have to be thankful for when it’s quiet. How shimmering blessed this life really is. How I am the source of my experience and no one else. How friendly and totally supporting reality is.
This moment was brilliant and fleeting. The nature of experience is instantaneous. A pristine moment of now. The trap is to try to re-create it or live it again. To live in the past. Now that I’ve had an experience I know that it’s possible for me. Up until now I had only read about it (And secretly coveted). The pitfall here would be to grasp onto and identify with the past, which doesn’t exist and guarantees failure of ever having similar experiences.
The practice is to stay “the vigilant guardian of my inner space”. To build and maintain my witness consciousness of myself, and to trust the same process that led me to that moment to begin with.
Editor: Kelly Brichta
Practicing with Bryan Kest and then participating in his initial teacher training, Caleb Asch started teaching as Bryan’s protege at his Santa Monica Power Yoga Studio in 1995. Two years later, Caleb participated in and completed the Yogaworks teacher training with Maty Ezraty, Chuck Miller and senior Iyengar teacher Lisa Walford. In addition Caleb has studied with Shandor Remete, Dona Holliman, Gabriella Guibilaro, and James Wing Woo. Caleb currently teaches at the original Yoga Works on Montana Ave in Santa Monica, Yoga Works’Centre For Yoga (Larchmont Village). Caleb’s classes are hot, sweaty, challenging, and non-dogmatic. He challenges his students to take what they learn on their mats into their lives. He lives in Santa Monica with his wife Corinne, daughters Sacha and Danielle.