When you stop running

I was flipping through Geneen Roth’s “Women Food and God” and was struck by a story she tells of running away. She was at a meditation retreat in the desert and couldn’t stand it and was frantically trying to rent a helicopter to get her out.

I fully resemble that story—a few years ago I was at a Vipassana meditation retreat, a ten-day, silent, simple-food, meditate-five-hours-a-day kind of thing. On the very first morning, in the very first meditation session, after less than three minutes, I wanted to bolt.My life is trying to run away

I didn’t have a car or I would have.

That was my first hint that something was off.

Why do we have so much trouble just being, just resting, sitting and closing our eyes? The only thing easier than that is to sleep. And yet most of us are not able to completely face ourselves.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Vincepal

If you look at your life, you will find many instances of running away from yourself.

Here’s a clear example: we think about food all the time, except when we actually eat. When we eat, we don’t eat food, we eat our past and sorrows and anger and fear and what we should have said or done.

Depression and anxiety come from running away. They come from turning emotions inward, rather than releasing or expressing them.

I had a difficult marriage for a long time, and then a difficult divorce. On the surface life was fine. I come from an Indian heritage, and if you know Indians, there’s a certain approach to life. I had a good education, check. I had a wife. Check. Two kids, check. Good money, a 401k account. Check. And so on.

The depression and anxiety attacks were a form of running away, or keeping myself from running away.

After the divorce, I had custody of the girls, one after the other, and that was good. It gave me focus. We had always been very close, the three of us. The girls are intelligent and mature. As the girls grew up and became independent, I began to realize how much of my life had been focused around them. In there absence, there was a feeling of emptiness for a long time.

In the five or six years following the divorce, I had an ego-maniacal sort of energy. I made good money, traveled, and went through a succession of women. I had married young and so the experience with women was new and exhilarating and validating. And a great distraction from having to face myself.

At the tail end of that mania, I had a relationship which I sort of think of as the fulcrum of change. That was a volatile relationship, because of me, because I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t faced myself yet. I remember an incident where she threw away my hand-written journals. And I remember not being too mad about it, because I deserved it. That’s how clumsy I was at that time with life and people.

The end of that relationship was painful, and the misery of that pain was what opened me up to awakening.

And after that there was the energy of the newly awakening—I traveled, I wrote, I explored, I stayed still. External life didn’t get easier—in fact it got more difficult, as I could not find a job, and got financially wiped out in this recession. I went through a time of very low-energy and isolation and insomnia and weight-gain. I would say it was depression, except it didn’t have the unhappiness and the black feeling of futility that often goes with depression.

Still, this was okay, because I saw it as yet another opportunity to awaken.

We run away in many different ways. We run away because of fear. Some people throw themselves in work, some in routine, some need a great deal of attention. Some drink. Some need drama. Some cling to particular beliefs. Some hate. Many of us struggle with food and weight and self-image. Many of us even run away by chasing spirituality.

Keep running—you will not stop because someone tells you to. You may not even stop when you realize you’re running.

But you can start seeing clearly slowly. It’s less effort than not seeing clearly. Be aware, observe. Allow. Love yourself. Fully inhabit your body, here and now. Watch. Witness.

And stuff will come up, and you won’t like it. That’s why releasing can be helpful.

And you’ll have to develop a gentle honesty with yourself. That kind of happens on its own, if you let it. Just know that we’re pretty good at fooling ourselves. Be patient, be gentle, and allow.

And if you do this, and face up to yourself, you may come upon a time when you realize that it’s all been about resistance, about running away, about running away because you are afraid. And then you may stop and look.

That’s a good time to ask: who am I?

There is no conclusion to that question. It’s about seeing you are not your mind, not your thoughts, not your emotions, not your beliefs. All this stuff that happens to “me” happens to an entity which doesn’t exist. It’s a phantom which exists only in thought and memory.

36 thoughts on “When you stop running

  1. Brenda (betaphi)

    It was interesting learning more about your background. I stopped running about five years ago when I bid adieu to the outside world and settled in to work online and on myself. I am content with my life, but the prevailing view from the outside seems to be that I’m not doing enough, that I should be more engaged in the rushing and grasping going on out there.

    It’s funny that we don’t expect that of our seniors. We give them carte blanche to do whatever they choose. Generally, we find that they choose to enjoy the quiet life, to replace wanderings with wonderings, as I am doing.

    I was struck by your last paragraph. We are not mind nor thoughts, emotions nor beliefs. So what are we other than fluid molecules in constant thermal motion? Are we energy alone? Is consciousness pure energy? What are we, Kaushik!?

    I know you can’t answer that. None of us really knows for sure. It’s fun to wonder though. And since it’s impossible to forgo thinking and feeling, we might as well view thoughts and emotions as clouds passing overhead.
    .-= Brenda (betaphi)´s last blog ..Waking Life =-.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hey Brenda!

      Yeah, the external world has no patience for the awakening. I think as we awaken, being is more important than doing, but doing is not excluded. There certainly are times of high activity and goals. But the frantic movement towards the future, and breaking up the present with the filters of the past is gone.

      We are consciousness. Awareness. And there is nothing foreign or mystical about this. The dualistic mind comes up with all sorts of curious objections: but I have a body, I have a mind, I don’t feel like I’m one with everything and so on.

      Yes we do have a body and mind and thoughts and emotions–these are here for us to experience and enjoy.

      Awareness is constant and easy. It is prior to body and thought and emotions. We tend to constrain awareness–we feel it is somewhere behind the eyes and it points forwards. But awareness has no direction, not is it constrained. It isn’t omniscient either.

      And these theories of existence are interesting but not relevant. What is relevant is how we feel. The only relevant question is: do I feel easy, peaceful, joyful, complete?

      Thanks, Brenda. I hope you are well, my friend!

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
      1. Kaushik Post author

        I meant to use this quotation: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
        Anais Nin

        Reply
  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention When you stop running | beyond karma -- Topsy.com

  3. Brenda (betaphi)

    I’m familiar with the Nin quote. Her diaries informed much of my youth. But here’s the real gem, and it’s yours. “The only relevant question is: do I feel easy, peaceful, joyful, complete?” :)
    .-= Brenda (betaphi)´s last blog ..Waking Life =-.

    Reply
  4. Janice

    Dear Mr. K,
    When I read this entry last night, I was so anxious and angry that I could not even form words to express my feelings. All I know is that this writing made me feel things that were extremely uncomfortable.
    This morning when I thought about it I realized that you wrote this article about me, on purpose. You know that I have been taking huge strides towards being more real and following my breath. So, in my moment of raw, naked exposed ego, you turned that screw really tight. Am I right?
    (I see you Mr. K, nodding your head).
    Okay, so everything is not about me.
    I am not mature enough for this article. I cannot handle it. Everything for me, still comes back to, “What will people think about me?” Dropping all my masks, all of my understudy roles, being ready at a moments notice to be what people want me to be is still a huge guiding force. I am already guestioning my spirituality, my relationship to God, my role at work, I cannot drop anything else today.
    I do not like this article, I don’t like the way I feel when I read it, I think you should have skipped it.
    I know you did not ask for my opinion, but I am still going to hit the SEND button, before I start crying.
    Janice

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,
      Yes, awakening is like that. I have had my moments of anger and annoyance and lethargy and a turning-inward.

      You are clearly handling whatever is coming up. You are present enough to know what is happening and present enough to express. Keep releasing. You are doing fabulously well!

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
  5. Brenda (betaphi)

    Hi Janice. Your comment reads like a book in the making. “Dear Mr. K,” you might call it, a gripping account of a journey toward awakening. I look forward to reading more about your journey. You are safe here. Ease, peace, and joy to you.
    .-= Brenda (betaphi)´s last blog ..Waking Life =-.

    Reply
  6. Janice

    Dear Mr. K,
    Well? Fabulously Well??? Now that is an interesting point of view.

    I am not sure if I was completely clear, I FEEL LIKE CHEWING THE BARK OFF A TREE. I feel like something is chasing me and it is totally pissing me off. It takes all I have to get away from this “thing” I am running from. I am scared to death of turning around and looking at it. I am frightened that it is a truth that I cannot handle. I can’t see what it is, exactly. I am scared to death that there is an arrogant, mean and bitter voice and this voice is going to tell me that I am a phony, that I have always been a phony. That I have wasted big pieces of my life.

    Your writing makes me feel too vunerable. Too “out there”. There is no place to hide with you. You are relentless, can’t you just fake it one time? Just talk about the weather and how shocking the price of gasoline is. Why do you insist on being so evolved?

    I have to go, I am going to check on the prices at Disneyworld. I am going to check myself into the Magic Kingdom and never come out.
    Sincerely,
    Guess who?
    P.S. thank you, Brenda

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,

      Eckhart Tolle on one of his CDs tells a story about when he was talking about the ego and the voice in the head that we all hear, and a man in the audience huffed out, saying that Tolle was crazy and didn’t know what he was talking about. There was no voice in his head. Eckhart Tolle says that this was such a perfect example of just what he was talking about that he wondered if the audience thought that he had hired an actor to make the point.

      We all want to run.

      But you haven’t run. And you know at this point you will not. So, yes, you are doing fabulously well!

      Take a break. Relax. There is no turning back now.

      The feelings and thoughts you have are common. I’ve felt these before and I’ve heard people say them to me before. I am angry, I feel like a phony, I think I am just fooling myself. It won’t leave you alone but it’s also only here because of resistance. Allow, be patient, love yourself. Fully inhabit your body, and love and witness.

      I know I have mentioned both of these before but here they are again. I have found these helpful in times of frustration and confusion:

      http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Adyashantis-Meditation-Allowing-Everything-to-Be-As-It-Is
      http://www.youtube.com/v/wy8LbEa91Qw (I hope the youtube video shows up in the comment; if it doesn’t, it’s contained here: http://www.beyond-karma.com/awakening/dark-night-of-the-soul/).

      with love,
      k

      Reply
  7. Jan

    Kaushik,
    This was wonderful to read. I’ve been intrigued by the Roth book for a while now (love her others) and now will investigate further. I appreciate you sharing your journey so transparently and also how you frame depression and anxiety as “running away from ourselves.” Honestly, I hadn’t thought of them that way before but that feels true. I did learn years ago that both of these dis-orders are spiritual wake-up calls…I took my own anxiety as that and embarked on a profound spiritual path to release myself from it because it was so darn debilitating! Thus my forays into Buddhism with learning to be in the present moment, et. al….Anxiety be gone. :-) Blessings to you as you journey on. A privilege to read your words….

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Jan,
      What a wonderful comment–thank you. I have come to think of depression as emotions turned inward. When I was not present enough and aware enough, and I was over-identified with beliefs and conditioning, this caused painful emotions to turn inward. I struggled with anxiety for a long time, only being aware of it as anxiety in later years, and when the day came when I was present enough and aware enough to allow the anxiety to be, and see that it is just a self-energizing loop between thoughts and body-sensations, I was chagrined at how easy it was to release it.

      We shouldn’t underestimate our desire to bolt! We want to run because we are afraid of facing ourselves–we are afraid that it might be very painful or we will not be able to figure it out. We are afraid that allowing and watching might be disempowering. It is difficult in our minds to see that being here, being now, fully allowing, fully accepting, fully inhabiting the body, watching and witnessing–well, this is the light of consciousness which transmutes unconsciousness.

      Thanks for a the wonderful insight!

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
  8. Evita

    Hi Kaushik

    The one thing I love so much about your writing is that it is so deep and so authentic. You don’t hold anything back and it helps people get it, connect and benefit from what you are saying in so many ways for their own life.

    I can understand the pattern, not so much personally but because I have a sister whom my heart goes out to so often as she is running so hard and falling into similar traps. Every time there is a plateau of happiness, I think is this the last time and now all will be well. I don’t know. But everything you listed from the depression to the anxiety, plagues her life on a regular basis.

    And the worst thing is that for the most part I cannot help her. I have had to allow her to have her experience as I cannot force my will on her. Yes, I have an amazing life and I love and feel deep gratitude that I am at a point where stillness is a natural part of me as I continue to go deeper within myself. And yes there is a part of me that wishes she could find at least half the happiness I have, but again I have come to understand it is not my journey. So I am there for helping when I can, but for now the running may have to continue.
    .-= Evita´s last blog ..The Illusion of Free Will and Control =-.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Evita,
      Yes, depression and anxiety are numbing. And I either was experiencing the numbness or afraid I will be soon. It permeated every part of life. And my lesson is just to be still, to allow, to watch, to be patient. And no, nobody else can do it for us, but we are also not alone in the journey.

      Thanks for a very opening comment. I hope you are well!

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
  9. Lisa (mommymystic)

    Well, I don’t have anything more to say! You said it all so well. Thank you for sharing. The ‘externals’ of each of our paths is so different, and always so beautiful to read. All the different ways we can ‘come home’. I loved reading this, and appreciate all you are sharing with others here. It feels very pure.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Thank you, Lisa. “come home’ — I love that phrase, how comforting, and appropriate..

      I hope you are well!

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
  10. Jeff Lapointe

    Wonderful comments about the state of being – even if it means you are on the run. Movement eventually brings rest and vica versa. One way or another the universe will get you to look at yourself, inside yourself. Namaste. Jeff

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Yes, great point, Jeff. The universe provides us opportunities all the time!

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
  11. Janice

    Dear Mr. K.,
    Thank you so much for your patience and support.

    I am a fixer, I love to correct things. I feel the happiest when I have just adjusted something (me) to a better more pleasing position. To stop moving things around and to stop wishing something was different to stop planning my next “more” better move is so foreign to me.

    To simply be aware that I am judgemental and critical and a fixer makes my shoulders hurt. Just looking at those characteristics without trying to change them makes my entire back ache. Adyashanti says that the ego stays active with resistance. You share that resistance is a slippy road. Again your instruction of Awareness Breathing & Release has centered a piece of me that I am coming to appreciate a lot.
    I guess I need to go back to the Resistance Article and re-read again. The Allowing Yourself To Be meditation by Adyashanti was a great resource for me. His voice alone soothes my frayed nerves.

    I am having some growing pains right now and I know in my heart that “it will be what it is” but my immediate reaction is emotional. I am sorry I was ranting in the last few days, that storm seems to have blown over but the wreckage from that storm is still quietness. In stillness my ego chatter works my last good nerve.

    I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend. Full of peace and love.
    Take care,
    Janice

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,

      Your last two comments went to the spam folder for some reason–that’s why they seem to be out of order. I think it should be fixed now.

      Adyashanti’s Allowing meditation is wonderful, and I encourage you to get his audio-book, True Meditation. As you say, his voice is gentle and soothing and he is a very natural guide.

      Allowing is difficult to understand in the mind. The mind/ego will think that allowing is dis-empowering. I’m reading Geneen Roth’s “Women Food God” and she talks about allowing. Her method of losing weight is awakening to Truth, which is what we talk about here. Allowing is a big part of that. But this is allowing so we can watch and witness, and in witnessing with consciousness, we transmute our unconscious patterns. It is not the allowing of resignation or giving up. Geneen Roth talks about someone who followed her advice and was really mad at her because she gained a hundred pounds. Geneen responds that the follower thought she was following her advice, but Geneen does not encourage compulsive eating. She encourages allowing and watching.

      In your words, there is tremendous recognition. You are doing very well.

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
  12. Nitin

    Hi Kaushik,

    Recently I have found your link through Takuin.
    Enjoy reading it. try to understand the high profile words and sentence.
    All these subject seems to have controversial views.
    1) let it happen, the way luck/nature takes it. (do not resistance to any occurring, be soft to you and all)
    2) Make an effort to reach your desire/goal/destiny. (fight, play politics, stay in race, run for the goal)
    First way is nutrient, no experience of either limits, constant flow until it’s disappear, feel emptiness.
    Second way is for Desire driven, which does not has limit, may enjoy the achievement for that moment. And what one can do after reach that goal, other then fulfill your ego.
    Mind is not in interest of peace or fight, it has constant thoughts. Mind and thought are two sides of coin ? ?
    Even the haven’s condition is boring for mind. what one can do with enlightenment?
    We are looking for the Answer which may not be available, are we chasing impossible ? Isn’t it ego wants to get the No one gets ?
    I am confused?….
    I have tried my best to explain my thoughts. any one’s response is welcome.
    Enjoy.
    Nitin/Toronto

    Keep running…

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Nitin,

      Welcome, and thanks for the open comment. Everyone learns from these sort of comments.

      Yes, it’s confusing. We hear things like Acceptance, Allowing, Releasing, Letting go, and these seem to be in conflict with the usual cultural conventions of go-getting, making things happen, discipline, positive thinking, the law of attraction and so on. Sometimes we hear that we should give up trying to control and trying to struggle–but that doesn’t square with our experience. We feel life will get even messier if we don’t try to control it. We feel, isn’t it dis-empowering to surrender?

      Even spirituality can be confusing. Isn’t the accumulation of spiritual concepts and methodologies the ego’s movement? How can we separate what is “true” spirituality from spiritual materialism?

      In the Power of Now, early in the book, a questioner says that he needs to understand more. He kind of sees what Tolle is talking about, but he needs to gather more ideas and understand it more. And Tolle responds, no you don’t need to understand anymore.

      Once you understand the basic dysfunction, that we are highly identified with thought, there really isn’t much more we need to understand. Understanding will dawn, not as conceptual understanding, but as feeling-realization, when we are ready for it. Clarity comes not with gathering up more ideas and arguments and thoughts, not even with gathering up more spiritual concepts and methodologies, but with letting go. As we let go our identification with thoughts and beliefs, we see more clearly.

      Be aware. This can be through meditation or simply noticing thoughts and everything else that goes on inside us.

      Learn to release. This is immediately soothing, and will help on the journey.

      Develop a gentle honesty. We tend to fool ourselves. We get in trouble when we forget that.

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
  13. Janice

    Dear Mr. K.,
    Your words of encouragement help me feel a braveness I did not know I had. Not the rash decision making and charging through situations in fearlessness (craziness?), but the real bravery, the kind that you have when you can actually be alone and not be scared.
    Much peace,
    Janice

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Janice,
      Thank you. You are indeed doing fabulously well. As you explore what is written and said about awakening, you will find that these moments of anger and frustration and confusion are all too common. It is the ego getting agitated. We allow, watch, witness and be patient.

      Keep going.

      love and peace,
      k

      p.s. (Your comments are still going to the spam folder–I am immediately notified when you leave a comment. I’ll try to fix it.)

      Reply
  14. Rizal Affif - The Soul Sanctuary

    Hi Kaushik,

    Nice post :) guess running away (or I prefer using “clinging”) has become our habit–it’s ego’s basic property. Being is easy; breaking free out of habit, creating another habit, that requires some effort alright :D
    .-= Rizal Affif – The Soul Sanctuary´s last blog ..Contentment =-.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Rizal,
      Yes, you’re right, it’s clinging. Clinging to mind, ideas, beliefs, thoughts….that makes us want to sometimes bolt. In those times we want to run, run to past, the future, away from here. We’re not comfortable in our skins. Sometimes we even run to spiritual concepts to hide behind them.

      Thanks for your comment! I hope you are well.

      love and peace,
      k

      Reply
  15. Pingback: Total Mind and Body Fitness Blog Carnival 156 « Health Fitness Support

  16. Pingback: Massive Meditation and Yoga Journal

  17. Liara Covert

    True being is fully aware and always sees reality clearly. True being never runs. It simply is. The mind, however, plays tricks on you to distract you from what is. To choose to believe the mind is itself a journey yet all paths lead back to Source.

    Reply
  18. Pingback: Weight Management and Fitness Forum 66th Edition

  19. Sarah

    Great post. Is there such a thing as “gentle honesty” with one’s self? I write that with a smile, but I’d say that self-honesty is pretty brutal. Of course, being honest with yourself doesn’t mean beating yourself up and “gentle” is a kind of balance. But, man, that honesty is the hard part, no? Yet, I value nothing more. Any pain I encounter from self honesty is a healing sort of pain, that the itch of a scab coming off, the beginning of clear. And the love I get from that same honesty…well, that’s what its all about :-)

    Namaste.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Sarah,
      Yes, I know you what you mean, self-honesty can be brutal and raw. I say “gentle” because forceful self-honesty can be co-opted by the ego, into some sort of a validating accomplishment. It’s just the gentle sort of thing, value-less as you say, when it’s just you and you, with the realization that when you fool yourself, it’s still just you and you, and when you don’t, it’s also just you and you.

      Thanks for the insight!

      Namaste,
      k

      Reply

Say something ...