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What's In Your Backpack?



One of my favorite teachings from the Buddha is: It is better to travel well than to arrive.


The Ego wants to hurry up and get “there.” And when it gets there, it wants to be first in line, front stage tickets with a backstage pass.


The Soul wants to wander and see and feel all the little bumps in the road and buttercups sunbathing along the way.


I know I’m in Ego when I feel impatient. When I’m driving too fast or gritting my teeth at other drivers. I know I’m in Ego when the exchange has stopped being a conversation and has turned into a jump rope game - where all I’m really focused on is a potential opening where I can hop in.


By the same token, I know I’m in Soul when I don’t know where my phone is and I don’t feel the impulse to go find it, check messages, check the time, validate my existence. I know I’m in Soul when I measure the day by how much peace and connection I felt instead of how much I accomplished.


Part of traveling well means having what we need in our backpacks.


What’s in yours?


How often do you peek in there, to take stock? Toss out old sandwich wrappers, add a fresh bottle of water?


The most important tool in my backpack is my awareness. Because no amount of wisdom and beauty and insight passed down from the masters matters if we can’t take it in. Before I ladle out the soup, I get a bowl. If we aren’t living within our own sacred awareness, how will we know when something has shifted, stopped working, started hurting?


How will we identify what’s wrong and recognize the voice of our Soul to lead us toward what will remedy it?


I spent a long time buying the books, going to the retreats, filling notebooks, planting my butt on the zafu cushion, but there was this gripping, thwarting counter-action from my Ego that made it very difficult for me to integrate the changes I was learning about and actually transform my life.


You can’t be afraid of your truth and open to life at the same time.


As long as we’re coming from fear, we’re negotiating, we’re denying, we’re controlling the narrative. Fear is the opposite of unfolding. It’s too contracted to hold space and see what comes next. It bears down and slaps an ending on the story prematurely - by reaching back into the past to predict it.


Come to your life with awareness. Every single day. Every single moment. Get to know, with deep precision, what you’re feeling throughout your days, throughout your body, throughout your thoughts.


If awareness is the only thing you carry in your backpack, it’s enough. Just as the ferns in the woods know how to live off the air and a desert flower knows how to take tiny sips and make them last. Awareness is the prerequisite to all healing. First we have to identify what’s going on. Then we can make a plan.


Befriending our awareness usually involves a meditation practice where we learn to study the phenomenon of our breath, coming and going, without any conscious instruction from us. This is the same thing as making direct contact with our divine life force - the energy that pumps our hearts and breathes our lungs.


If you feel resistant to meditating, that’s ok. Don’t let the resistance derail your knowing of how important your awareness is for you. You can practice informally, when you do the dishes, wash your hands, brush your teeth, pour the drink, step into the shower, walk toward a stranger, get into the car, put your shoes on, answer the phone. Think of all the daily opportunities to slow down the automatic stuff and ask yourself: How am I feeling right now?


“How am I feeling right now?”, is an incredibly powerful question. It’s the question that births our connection with our body’s sacred capacity for awareness.


Till next time friends : )