On Seeking Enlightenment: Sitting with All Parts of Myself.
What really is enlightenment?
This question had me stumped for a while.
I used to think of it as Ascension, achieving the ultimate goal of this earthly walk, transcending the ordinary, and climbing up some type of a spiritual ladder to the elevated blissful states of the immortals.
I used to battle every day and challenge every thought in search of something bigger than myself. And the answer was always elusive.
I woke up day after day, hitting the mat, sitting in meditation, putting up with all my limitations and flaws and looking for a way to move beyond them. I stumbled, but pretended I didn’t. I wanted to cry, but hid it behind a contemptuous look. I ached to ask for help, but all I heard was silence. I kept scratching at the door of my own prison, stifling the cries of agony.
Until I decided this isn’t working.
There is no ladder. There is no magical blissful state, or any kind of liberation for that matter. It’s all in vain.
And enlightenment… well, I guess that is just for the Buddha.
This was a hard pill to swallow.
I abandoned the million ways to fix myself and make myself better and sat. I needed something radical if I was to make it through this reincarnation.
If I was going to spend the rest of my earthly days stuck in my head, then I should at least get to know what I am in for, I thought.
I sat with myself as I was at that moment. Damaged beyond repair.
I didn’t like it.
My mind spat ten thousand things at me with the speed of light.
I sat with all of it. I still didn’t like it.
I lost and found my breath more times than I can count. Then I sat some more. It was awkward. Like a first date gone wrong.
Slowly and painfully reaching into the dark, forgotten, cobwebbed corners of my being. Learning to witness it all.
I didn’t have to like it. As long as I was willing to accept it.
For every step forward, I took 10 steps back. Maybe a few to the side. Swayed my hips and did the cha-cha-cha. One might as well, I was not going anywhere, or fast.
As I sat, I started to notice myself grow. Literally. I was starting to get bigger. Fortunately, larger clothes were not required. But I started losing some material addictions, attachments to feelings and ideas. As I expanded, I required more space. Fewer things, fewer distractions, more time to sit. Time started to take on a different shape.
This growing stuff became a continuous dance with oneself. Sometimes I led, sometimes I was led.
Until I became the dancer and the dance itself.
The reality that I see behind the term enlightenment now is expansion .
Expansion of my awareness. Expansion of myself, in all directions. Until I reach that part of me that quietly witnesses all.
Witnessing the dialogue of the mind and actively improving it.
By improving, I don’t mean making it better. I mean, I started treating myself, all parts of myself, with kindness and respect.
For the first time, I really accepted myself, all of me. I have to admit I even started liking myself a bit.
Expansion is sitting with myself. All of it. Not just the parts I think I like, but also the parts I tend not to like. The parts of me that seek forgiveness. The parts that are angry. The parts of me I didn’t even know were there. All of it. Sitting, embracing and honoring. It’s a practice.
Some days it’s blissful. Some days it’s hard.
I hold the space for my own self. To go through whatever I need to go through.
My perception has changed. I choose which perspective to view life from.
All of a sudden, I moved from the dark, moldy basement into this beautiful mansion, and there is a view from every window. 360 degrees of panoramic view. And I could choose any of it.
What is even better is I am not stuck with just one view. I can change. I experiment. I can even change my mind. I can climb up the rooftop and take it all in at once.
Because the only one who is setting any limitations here is me. And I am fully aware of it.
I am aware that I have a story.
But I am not so interested in the story anymore. I am most interested in the experience.
The story can change at any time, and because I know that, I am writing it.
There is no meaning to anything other than the meaning I choose to give it.
There is fear. But I embrace the fear, it teaches me. It shows me where to go next. Fear is like everything else: an experience. I exist in an intense and radical state of self-love.
Not every day is blissful. Some days I need to hold my own hand and watch while the world crumbles. Some days I love everything and everyone and it’s hard to contain that feeling or express it in words. Some days I explode in anger. Some days I lie broken on the floor.
I don’t judge. I allow and embrace. It’s all a part of me.
Like the rings on a tree, I expand beyond anywhere I have been before, yet I contain all that I have ever been.
Like the tree, I still flow with the cycles of life and death, with the changes of nature. And just like the tree, my true nature is not affected by the changes. I may be blooming, or shedding, or bare, or covered in a green mantle. But I am always a tree, standing tall in my simple glory
And suddenly I have not transcended my physical experience. I have instead chosen to embody it.
And with that I have claimed my power.
The magic is in my hands. I am still here, on this earthly plane. Everything is here to be tasted and experienced. There is no limit to how much I can expand.
In me I contain the whole universe.
I am just a singular, unique expression of the Abstract. And everything is perfect as it is. With all its imperfections.
So here I am no longer wishing to be somewhere I am not. No longer wishing to become someone I am not.
Somehow I have been liberated. Without even doing anything. Nothing but accept and love myself. With all my shortcomings and limitations.
I have become unapologetically human.
And in that I have encountered my own divinity, right here on earth.
A yogi, mom, writer, misguided explorer of the inner landscape, and anatomy geek, Elena Lit is sometimes threading the lines of societal norms with grace, and more often finds herself a misfit among misfits. Curiosity is her superpower. Commitment, her biggest challenge. Eager to dip her fingers and toes into anything that tickles the existing edges of reality, she has a hard time finishing anything. Writing since she was 9, it is impossible for her to stay away from the pen and paper for too long. Her voice yearns to be shared, even when she tries ignore it. When the world becomes too noisy, you can find her under a tree, lost in a book, or hiding under the covers.