My pants are uncomfortable, a little too snug, and the holidays aren’t over. I have three more Christmas parties, a mini vacation, New Year’s Day, and my oldest daughter’s birthday on January 2nd. Honestly, I’m a little afraid because yesterday I had to literally yank my jeans up and over the fleshiness of my hips and thighs, then tuck my belly into my jeans before I could button them closed. To add to my morning battle, I was due to give a short public talk that morning and was not feeling like my best self.
There was a time when “not feeling like my best self” would start a downward spiral into self-recrimination and self-loathing. Where my mind would tug at my heart as if the added pounds were evidence that there was something deeply and personally wrong with me.
But there they were, those old thoughts and feelings lurking on the edges of my consciousness, waiting for the right moment to steal my Peace. Indeed, Mara was at the gate.
There’s a wonderful story about the demon Mara and the Buddha.
Before he became the Buddha, he was Siddhartha Gautama, a prince who left his privileged world to become a monk and find liberation from suffering. After studying with a variety of spiritual teachers and mastering a variety of disciplines, he still hadn’t reached a state of liberation. So, he decided to try finding enlightenment on his own, and that’s when he realized two things; one, that you should seek the middle way between over-indulgence (pleasure) and renunciation and, two that it he’d find enlightenment through disciplining his mind.
With this awareness he came to a sacred tree called the Bodhi Tree and went into a deep meditation. While sitting there, he was attacked by the demon Mara. Mara, as some describe, is the demon of self-doubt. Mara did his very best to tempt and distract the Siddhartha from becoming enlightened.
When all else failed Mara said, “I have greater spiritual accomplishments than you! Who do you think you are? Who will bear witness of your accomplishments?” Siddhartha didn’t fall for any of Mara’s tricks, and calmly touched the earth with right index finger and Gaia, the Great Mother roared, “I shall bear witness,” and soon after, Siddhartha became the Buddha, he who is awake. But Mara wasn’t finished.
Every now and again, Mara would show up at various place. When he did the Buddha would prepare him tea as if he were an honored guest and invite him to sit.
I LOVE this story. Mara belongs to us all! But the demon of self-doubt cannot harm you when you are mindful. Being spiritual doesn’t mean that you are not going to have feel-bad (negative) emotions. When you are mindful, you can see them for what they are and KNOW that following them will lead to unhappiness and suffering.
When I saw Mara yesterday, I asked myself two questions, “Will I allow this situation to steal my peace today?” and “Can I love myself as myself?” Oh yes! These two questions put me back in my center.
How does Mara show up for you? What little things bring “him” around to disturb your peace? Write these things down. Be the brave Buddha in your own life.
Sending you oodles, and oodles of love!