I feel trapped.
Caught up, backed in a corner, locked in a box—whatever the metaphor. I thought that these mindfulness practices would free me from the cyclical, habitual behaviors of the past, but I find this awareness to come with a catch; to end up more predictable than before.
I remember being told that as I progress with Zen, Vipassana and other meditative activities, I would start seeing myself more critically. And this may very well be an example of such. It seems like, before I approach a situation, I find myself analyzing myself and the scenario and then finding a response. This doesn’t happen successfully each and every time, however, I’m more aware of when I’m not as mindful as I could have been.
But this, in and of itself, is a cycle. Now I find myself analyzing each situation instead of responding naturally. I see myself pausing and looking within, but then, sometimes, I don’t see myself responding at all.
Being quiet and saying little is often advocated in contemplative activities, like meditation. But what I am experiencing is my intuition, my judgment and my dissertations all being hushed in exchange for being less judgmental, less opinionated and free from the ego.
The ego…all these practices (Yoga, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) all point to the ego as the antagonist to the realized self. However, some days we do have to play different roles. And as a role-player in the play of life, I am that actress still sitting in the green room because she forgot her lines. I feel like in exchange for enlightenment, I lost myself.
But one would say that this were a good thing. That identities aren’t necessary and should be done away with. Once upon a time, I agreed. Today, I find myself naked soldier on an open battlefield as the boundaries that I created to protect my integrity, my true self, was stripped. I sit here, damaged, leaving so many missed opportunities, dying friendships and wayward thoughts and feelings in the ruins.
I feel like my mistake is not knowing myself before practicing self-inquiry. It’s like looking for a tiger barb in a tank full of exotic fish, not knowing what the barb looks like. One could say that seeking for the self is the way to the self, but how? If perceptions and sensations are empty by nature…
I’ve stopped myself again. That last fragment, “if perceptions and sensations are empty by nature…” made me pause. Again, I work myself up for nothing…literally. My thinking is that since perceptions and sensations are empty, that they are passing, impermanent and will go away someday…but then they will reemerge. So, do I let go of my feeling tangled for now, hoping to revisit it later with more clarity? Should I stop my pursuit of understanding what I don’t know since the question will fade and arise some other time?
I know! I should have a cup of tea.