National Association of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (NACAMS)
By Erica Bouchér
One of the greatest, most unexpected gifts in my life was the time I spent working with the homeless. Unbeknownst to me it would be the beginning of my own spiritual journey, and the very time and place where I would fall in love with people, because one of the things I really got was that underneath it all – our past, our circumstances, our programming…we are all the same.
I learned that regardless of economic class, what kind of education or job one has, car one drives, color of one’s skin or religious background – we are all innocent children wanting love, acceptance and understanding.
And every time, without fail, that I took the time to listen, truly listen without judgment to their stories and how they got to be where they are, I was humbled, and had to admit to myself that, given their same set of circumstances and life experiences, their exact life footprint, I too could be in their shoes.
It was this experience that taught me over and over again that when you strip away the story, the car, the house – all the symbols we use to place ourselves in categories and then judge one as better or worse than the other – when we are our most vulnerable, authentic, naked selves – we are all the same.
In order to do this, to live this moment to moment in our lives, we must recognize and free ourselves from the Ego. The Ego, with a big E, is what developed as the confusion of judgment and fear were introduced into our experience. A construct was born to help us function within a world of other Egos.
The ego is necessary and has served us well in this world. It makes it possible for us to function, to make choices, to say no, to have a job and get through college. It keeps us from walking out into traffic, or placing our hand on a hot stove. The ego makes observations and uses discernment to make the healthiest choices. The Ego judges, divides, separates and pits us against each other.
Everyone is a mirror for us, their behavior showing us aspects of ourselves that we proudly own, and parts of ourselves we can’t bring ourselves to see, accept, or admit. It is only fear that causes us to push others away. In reality we are all brothers and sisters to each other. We are all part of the human race, and it is only our fearful perception that has led us to believe that we are separate, that it is a dog eat dog world out there, that we must fend for ourselves because nobody else will.
The separation is an illusion we have all bought into, and so we are living a collective dream. The way back to the pure innocence and joy and peace that exists within us all, that is natural state, is by freeing ourselves from the Ego’s clutches. Only then can we remember that we are all connected, brothers and sisters, and that we were never really separate.
This Valentine’s Day, instead of focusing all of your love on that one special someone, consider expanding your capacity for unconditional love by offering it to everyone, without exception.
EXERCISE FOR LETTING GO OF JUDGMENT
Sit on a bench in the mall, or in the park, and watch people. Notice the almost automatic tendency to make judgments about them – about their clothes, their hair, their behavior. Feel how you have been trained to judge, to make them wrong somehow, or less than you in some way; or worse, to make them better than you. Notice how your judgment creates a feeling of separation between you and them. Feel how your energy constricts as you categorize them in your mind.
Now peel away the film of judgment and criticism that was there, and look at him, or her, again. Choose to see the innocence in her, regardless of her behavior. Choose to see him as a little boy that was innocent and pure, just like you, who received his own brand of programming and hurtful and confusing messages. Shine the light of compassion on that person, energetically embracing him, seeing him as another innocent soul. Do this with everyone that walks by, regardless of size, shape or color, regardless of behavior, social status or attitude. Do not feed the illusion of separation, for this creates distance between you and your fellow man, this creates distance between you and yourself.
Feel how loving others makes you an open channel, allowing your energy to flow, freely and without inhibition. Only then can we be in true joy, for we have let down our walls, let go of our defenses, and stopped fighting against each other.