Do You Exist Outside the Projection of My Mind?

Via Kara-Leah Grant
on May 7, 2012
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Turning away from truth causes suffering

Written six months ago…

This afternoon I had a sad phone call with the father of my child. I left him a year ago—not because I didn’t love him. I did. But my ex-partner had demons that I finally realized were not mine to fight.

And while he had those demons, I could not be with him. My ex-partner didn’t understand then, and he doesn’t understand now.

This afternoon was tough. He wants me to make his pain stop but I can’t. It’s his pain. I understand though. It’s natural to use other people to blunt our pain. I’ve done it myself, many times. So I listen. And another layer of my own grief rises to the surface.

We were together three and a half years. We have a son together and I’ve never loved a man in such a way, yet our relationship is done. I may never love another man in such a way. And that is likely a healthy thing.

In our love, there was no space for me to state my truth. Not without conflict and anger and verbal abuse and being told to be other than I was. These were the demons, unfaced, that arose and hurled themselves out at me.

Such is the nature of human beings.

We externalize those aspects of self we don’t want to face. Our demons attack those we love, unless we have the courage and insight to turn and face them ourselves.

I had demons too—demons that worked in the opposite way. My demons didn’t attack others, but kept me quiet. They whispered warnings in my ears:

You can’t say that, he won’t love you anymore.

‘That’ was inevitably the truth. So I sold out truth for love. A fool’s trade, if ever there was one. And one I’m no longer willing to do.

So when my ex-partner calls me on the phone, I practice speaking truth at all times. No matter what it invokes. And sometimes it’s not nice at all. Now, mostly, I can listen to whatever is thrown at me, and let it slide off, knowing it’s not about me at all.

It’s nothing personal. This is one of the many gifts of this relationship. My son is, of course, the great gift. It was my concern for his well-being over my own that finally made me stand up tall. Somehow, even then, a year ago, I was still willing to sacrifice myself—my truth—on the altar of love.

But not my son. He was not mine to sacrifice. And for that I am grateful.

For in the year since I finally left, my life and I have blossomed. Speaking truth is still a practice, especially with those closest to me, and those I’m in relationship with.

It’s extraordinary how silent I can become in the face of love.

My own demons are still there.




But still present.

And I wonder, where did this fear of speaking truth in the face of love arise? Why did I fear that to be me was to threaten love? Where did I pick up this pattern of accommodating and appeasing and sacrificing myself to love?

Not that it matters.

It is enough to notice. To witness. To be present. And to choose to speak up and speak truth.

This afternoon, I listened to my ex-partner’s pain on the phone, feeling my own grief at what might have been but never was… I spoke my truth.

And he couldn’t hear it.

Which is how I know our relationship is over, love or no love.

If he can’t hear me, then in his world, I don’t even exist. I’m only an idea he has, a way to keep the pain at bay. And I want to be heard, as well as loved.

I want to exist outside the projection of another’s mind.

This afternoon, listening to the pain and the love of my ex-partner on the phone, I too felt pain and love.

I too saw how I’d used my ex-partner to keep my own pain at bay.

And how my own projections of who I wanted him to be caused me suffering and pain.

In this seeing…

…because of this mirror

…I see that I too need to see and hear the other

…and love them for who they are

…beyond the projection in my mind.

Funny that, eh?


Editor: Lynn Hasselberger


About Kara-Leah Grant

Kara-Leah Grant is an internationally renowned retreat leader, yoga teacher and writer. Along with fellow Elephant Journal writer, Ben Ralston, she runs Heart of Tribe, pouring her love into growing a world-wide tribe of courageous, committed, and empowered individuals through leading retreats in New Zealand, Mexico and Sri Lanka. Kara-Leah is also the founder of New Zealand’s own awesome yoga website, The Yoga Lunchbox, and author of Forty Days of Yoga—Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice and The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. A born & bred Kiwi who spent her twenties wandering the world and living large, Kara-Leah has spent time in Canada, the USA, France, England, Mexico, and a handful of other luscious locations. She now lives and travels internationally with her son, a ninja-in-training. You can find Kara-Leah on her website, or on Facebook.


23 Responses to “Do You Exist Outside the Projection of My Mind?”

  1. MamasteNJ says:

    Funny that…right!
    Love this Kara-Leah.

  2. Great piece, as usual, Kara-Leah. Thank you.

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the elephant love & relationships homepage.

    Bob W. Associate Publisher
    facebook, twitter, linkedIn
    Yoga Demystified, Gita in a Nutshell

  3. Awesome, thanks Bob.

  4. Speak Now... says:

    I'm going through that very breakup now.

  5. Speak Now... says:

    thank you for sharing… helps tremendously

  6. My pleasure. That's the aim – to help.

  7. Supange says:

    Blessing to you … Beautiful !

    You are never far from my heart and I am loving your truth… Big phat kisses to you and your Little man…

    Love the woman you are becoming


  8. Ben_Ralston says:

    Congratulations for having the courage to put truth first. Probably you are the first of many generations to do that, and it takes a lot of courage. You are paving the way for many future generations of change. Your son is a lucky boy.

  9. Hey Ben,

    Thank you – reckon it's still very much a work in progress. But yeah, have this sense that truth is where it's at, on a global level, which is of course always personal to start (as you well know, given your latest video!).

  10. Thank you from a once-upon-a-time trusty sidekick!

  11. Ben_Ralston says:

    I think that truth is absolutely where it's at. I've come a try long way in the last 10 years, and the only thing that's guided me there (because it certainly wasn't anything or anyone else) was my refusal to compromise on truth. Many ups and downs, but ultimately I knew what I always wanted, and didn't ever wander far from it. So I'm always really happy to see someone who has the same principle – I know it will take us far.

  12. This is beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. I believe this is a story we all eventually are a part of (some of us a couple of times).

  13. piers ede says:

    You've touched on something extraordinarily profound here. You say: 'I want to exist outside the projection of another’s mind'. Well the truth is you don't, and you never will. Uncovering this is the very practice of yoga..

    Every time you pick up the phone with your ex and these expectations appear, and you give them attention, you're fuelling that part of the ego which needs affirmation. Thus, you are actually bringing that weight of expectation with you into every conversation, then feeling let down when it doesn't appear. This is samsara.

    So be free of it once and for all. Memory is the past. Relinquish those expectations and embrace freedom.

  14. Hey Ben,

    I often wonder what the world would be like if we all operated on truth. I wonder too sometimes how much of the disconnect between mind / body came about because of trying to suppress truth – it's always felt in the body. And we're were trying to hide something for other people, we put on a front physically too…

  15. Hey Piers,

    I notice my hackles raise when I read your comment, as I listen to you telling me what to do. I want to be defensive and reactive. "Like don't you think I know this? Didn't you notice I wrote this six months ago?" Which is interesting… what in me wants to defend against the wisdom you offer? And I wonder too… where am I still telling other people what to do?

    Slowly, over time, with greater and greater awareness, deeper layers of resistance to what is reveal themselves. Am I free now? More so than I was six months ago, way more than 18 months ago. Do I still have more freedom to gain? Perhaps. Perhaps indeed.

  16. piers ede says:

    Hey Kara. I didn't mean to appear didactic, merely offering a perspective based on my own experience. We all do this, of course, but it helped me a lot to have this pointed out. In my own case, I came to see that 'Piers' is nothing more than a story, albeit one given solidity by the constant fuel of attention. As a story, or an ego, whatever you want to call it, he's quite needy, and full of thoughts and ideas about a world which appears insufficient. But the freedom has come in actually realising that this is what the personality/self IS – a hunger, a series of memories and projections with no actual reality. There literally is no you, other than what's happening now.

  17. Hey Piers,

    Oh I love that… there is no You. Just the Story of You. And does that then give us the power to write our own story?

    Just after replying to our last comment, I caught myself about to do the very same thing to someone else that had triggered me in your comment… so thanks to you, I was able to identify an aspect of Self which until then had been hidden. Such is the magic of life!

  18. piers ede says:

    Hi Kara. Interesting stuff. I would say that does not give us the power to write our own story. In fact, with that realisation comes the end of any belief in free will. Autonomy depends on the believe in a separate entity. And that separate entity doesn't exist, other than as a story. So in fact we have to conclude that 'I' never make any decisions and have never made any decisions. A thought appears which 'I' then take responsibility for, but if we examine the chain of events we'll see that the decisions, and indeed the responses to the decisions, are merely happening.

    So in this impersonal presence awareness the story of an apparent life is appearing and disappearing. It's the clinging to certain moments, and the rejection of other moments, which creates not just suffering but the hologram of our personalities. But when they're examined, just like that hologram, they disappear as pure illusion..

    Ah heady stuff for a Thursday morning, still drinking my coffee!

  19. Hey Piers,

    Heady and interesting for sure…

    So, no autonomy, just constant surrender into what is in each moment? A release of clinging and/or aversion and the sinking into of Awareness, where all just is?

    Yet.. from awareness, I'm able to observe the arising of a thought and/or feeling, followed swiftly by a reaction… and chose to either act out that usual reaction, or not. Thus creating change, doing something different in response to the old trigger. Is that not choice?

    Or is it merely that once we bring awareness to a pattern, the choice is choiceless and the path is obvious?

    ps. KL or Kara-Leah…. never did like Kara. Is that a choice of what to be called? 😉

  20. piers ede says:

    This post vanished from my awareness for a few days and then popped back! Kara, yes, I would say no autonomy of any kind. You say 'from awareness I'm able to observe the arising of any thought and choose to either act out that usual reaction, or not.' I'm not sure this is true. Who could there be to make that choice? Once the 'I' is seen as appearance, then consciousness is all there is. It all gets a bit complicated here…but I would say that when one starts living before the mind, the mind is largely discarded. It is useful from time to time but mainly set aside, allowed to witter on in its own automative manner. Engaging with the reactivity at all means you're still in the business of listening to thought and obeying it's demands. Standing as awareness action is simply happening, without reflection. Pure spontaneity.

  21. Hey Piers,

    First… please, call me KL (or Kara-Leah). Have never answered to Kara and it sounds like you're talking to someone else! Thanks 🙂

    I don't have any answers on this… I just don't know. And I don't know if it can be 'worked out'.


  22. piers ede says:

    Sorry! Got the name wrong again… This mind was never good at those things! In peace and the flow of things…

  23. CebuImage says:

    In our country, divorce is not allowed so women have to endure the demons that you said. At the end of their middle age, many still happy while many are not.