Wednesday, January 25, 2012
What are the areas in your life that you build you identity around?
Where does your sense of self come from?
I am a cat 2 bike racer?
I am a father, husband, family man?
I am a vegan?
I am liberal, conservative?
I am bousterous & sarcastic?
I am kind and loving?
I am an artist?
I am an enviromentalists?
I am a musician?
I am this way at social gatherings: shy, outgoing.
Whatever it is, it would seem that nothing that we build our sense of self is really that substantial. Speaking from my own experience I tend to identify myself and who I am by the activities I am involved in. But they change don't they? I may be a cyclist now, a fit athlete... but I could get sick tomorrow or paralyzed and then who am I? On an even deeper level I identify with "defects of character". But its all impermanent & it all changes. If I look at a photo album and find pictures of me at various stages which one am I?
"I am" tends to really get in the way of what is really happening in the present moment. It shades the present perceived reality with past and future and adds unnecessary narratives.
I am speaking more in terms of general life, but this is a cycling blog mainly so lets look at it from that perspective: If I take a simple example of riding up a hill with a group of riders and the pace gets hard. They immediately start to pull away from me and instantly:
I am so out of shape
I can't maintain this pace
I shouldn't even be out here
How can they ride so fast
There is no chance of winning
I should have just stayed home tonight
I should just give up now
Come on hang in there
You can do it.
This hurts too much
None of that is what is happening whether the narrative is positive or negative Whether I am offering encouragement or antaganism. It is all mental fabrication and all of it is getting in the way: causing suffering.
There are two outcomes: either I hang with the group or I don't and becuase of "I am". If I don't hang with the group my sense of self worth immediately will cling to that. If I do hang with the group or drop them: The Ego will kick in, or false pride.
It is a loose loose situation.
Whats important in that situation? Whats important is what its like. If thoughts of doubt arise... "Oh doubt is like this?" back to the breathe, or the sensation in the legs or whatever my present experience is.
If thoughts of success arise... "Oh, this is what the attachment looks like"
Sometimes it can be helpful to label what the mind is trying to do, or to intentional think things rather then let the mind run away.
I find that I perform best and I am happiest on the bike when I am clearest:
Pain in the legs is like this
Views and opinions are like this
The breathe is like this
Right now, awareness is like this.
But when we get down to it, its all empty space anyhow. Or at least, that's what the physicists tell us right?