Whatever came from being
is caught up in being, drunkenly
forgetting the way back.
You were born with a clear, clean open awareness.
And then something happened. Depending on your birth story, you either felt secure and supported or unsupported and insecure. And you grew up and interacted with the world and expressed your needs … the way the world responded to you further supported your security or insecurity.
Tara Brach uses the idea of a space suit. “Imagine that at the moment of birth we begin to develop a spacesuit to help us navigate our strong new environment,” she writes in True Refuge. When our needs are not met, our space suit creates defenses and proactive strategies such as tensions in your body, anger, anxiety, shame and mental judging, fantasizing and so on. We create behavior patterns and tactics to go after whatever we think is missing – food, love, security.
Our space suite is necessary for survival. We learn as we grow up that we should ask for food when we experience hunger, rather than cry for our next meal. However at some point our space suit becomes a prison. The day we think that we are the anger, anxiety, shame, judging we have become a prisoner and we are living in trance.
Not Good Enough
Jason came to see me because he was experiencing judgement and anxiety. He had been a project manager for many years and made comfortable living. He had a nice home and a loving wife and grown children. He had free time and money and yet he didn’t feel deserving of the wonderful life and family that he had. He felt depressed, anxious and judgmental of how he spent his time and money. Out of guilt, he donated his time and money helping a local nonprofit for underprivileged children.
As I sat with Jason one session, I invited him to close his eyes and observe his feelings. Whenever guilty thoughts surfaced, I invited Jason to welcome the thought and let it be instead of resisting the thought. What would it feel like if you just let the guilty thought exist? I don’t know, he said. And sit with that too, I encouraged.
After a few minutes, Jason opened his eyes and looked at me with a sense of ease. I get it, Beck. I don’t have to fight. I can’t fight the guilty feelings, but when I just let them be they don’t have power over me. I have worked for everything I have and I can enjoy what I have.
Jason had seen his way past his space suit and created separation between his pure, open awareness and his thoughts and habits and mechanisms.