One of our greatest challenges on the spiritual and mental health path is relinquishing our ego’s temptation to control, dissect and manipulate. I was faced with this challenge in the most potent way these past 5 weeks beginning with when I was away on my trip to New Zealand with my husband at the end of January. The day before we flew out of Calgary, we took our beloved dog, Guinness in to see the vet as he did not seem to be recovering from what we assumed was a case of Kennel Cough. The vet assured us that Guinness, although attuned to the fact that we were leaving on a trip, was going to be fine and he put him on some meds to help clear up the Kennel Cough.
My intuition was strong before and during this vet visit and I was waiting to hear the dreaded “C” word from the vet, that Guinness had cancer at which point I would stay home to be with Guinness and my husband could go on the trip to New Zealand to visit with his daughter. To my pleasant surprise though, Guinness was not given that diagnosis and I attributed my mistaken diagnosis to a classic case of ego catastrophizing.
The next day we left Guinness with my loving parents and headed off to Auckland. Every day of our trip I had a nagging feeling about Guinness, and I was being pulled back to the thought of him. With each day and every fearful moment, I corrected my thinking by turning to my Inner Teacher, Who is alive and well in our Right-Mind. Being thousands of miles away from my little guy, I had no choice but to surrender, an excellent lesson if there ever was one. I began calling my Mother each morning to check in on Guinness and I was told that he had not responded to the medication and sure enough, when my parents took him back in to see the vet, Guinness was diagnosed with Tonsillitis. A different antibiotic was prescribed and my vacation continued with a renewed confidence that he would feel better.
A couple of days later, Guinness was just not getting better and another trip to the vet was made…
There, on the Western coast of New Zealand, I heard the news that triggered the visceral reaction we all dread, Guinness has cancer. More specifically, a tumor near his heart which was growing and obstructing his windpipe. Although there was time and no need to rush home according to the vet, the time remaining for my darling constant companion was nearing its end. With that, Eric and I decided to come straight home to be with Guinness and we left New Zealand a week sooner than planned.
With the shifting of emotions and flights, all I knew that I could do was again, surrender. My Inner Teacher reminded me of a teaching from, A Course in Miracles, that bodies can never connect like the mind can, for we are in Truth, formless mind, and ONE in the mind.
“The body could not separate your mind from your brother’s unless you wanted it to be a cause of separation and of distance seen between you and him. Thus, do you endow it with a power that lies not within itself. And herein lies its power over you. For now you think that it determines when your brother and you meet, and limits your ability to make communion with your brother’s mind.”
A Course in Miracles – T.29.I.5:1-3
We had another full day in Auckland before heading home and it was that day that I truly had to practice my trust. With my toes dug firmly into the black sand of the beach, I stared into the waves and decided to practice the Course’s teaching that we are all connected at the level of the mind (animals included!). So, I closed my eyes and envisioned Guinness. In my mind’s eye, I looked at him and told him that I was coming home and not to worry for the Truth is that we are already together. I pictured myself holding him in the warmth of love. Then, I practiced my True Forgiveness, the only sane response to any conflict according to, A Course in Miracles.
When we got home to Guinness, I committed to taking each moment as it came, loving him, supporting him, and most importantly, ensuring a peaceful and happy environment. What I noticed was my ego mind tried to scare me and say, “Hey! Fiona! See what Guinness is doing right now? That could be the last time he does that! You better take a picture. You better notice all these things he does because it could be the last time you ever see him do it.”
You see, the ego mind is torturous and is always accompanied with a focus on the finality of our physical being and experience. The ego mind upholds fear by keeping us focused on the past and regretting the things we wished we would have or had not done. The ego mind also keeps us rooted in fear by throwing us into the future which, if you ask me, leads to some major overwhelm! And finally, the ego always tells us that things need to be done or that we’re not doing enough. For the ego it’s all about urgency! So, each time I had the thought I described above, I could see through my Right-Mind that the ego was trying to bring a tormented feeling to every moment. “This is not how I want to go through this.” I would say to myself. As always, there has got to be a better way!
I was reminded also of the Course lesson, “I could see peace instead of this.” I knew that I could see this through the ego mind or I could bring my Right-Mind into focus. I love that I know that I can see any challenge and all things through the loving eyes of Truth. Guinness and I will never be apart. We never have been apart. We are always connected.
On March 3rd, the time came when my darling boy left his physical body. I honestly miss nuzzling his black fur, when he playfully snuggled me while I did yoga, and I miss how he always gave me his right paw to hold, amoung so many other things. As I rushed him to the vet after he had collapsed, I knew that I had a choice; freak out or remain present with him. I placed my hand on his chest and told him that it was okay to go Home and that he was not alone. As the tears poured down, I reminded him that we are never apart.
There was nowhere I would rather have been than in that moment with him, loving him with every ounce of my being. As I drove to the vet's office, a vehicle pulled in front of me and I recall thinking that they were not moving fast enough for me. But, of course, I slowed down and as I approached the vehicle their license plate came into view, LVB4UDI, which I interpreted as Love (or Live) Before You Die - a perfect reminder in that moment and I felt that Guinness and I were incredibly supported by the Love which is our Reality. Reflecting upon that moment, I, quite simply, trust.
As I shared, this has been a challenging experience but it has also strengthened my mind and therefore me. It has also greatly strengthened my trust in the presence and guidance of our Inner Teacher.
To help expose the ego mind, here are the ways the ego tried to distract me from the Truth…
· Fear of the finality of the physical experience
· Guilt that I didn’t stay home with Guinness
· Guilt that I wasn’t there every moment with Guinness
· Anger at myself for not following my initial intuition
· Wonder of if I did enough to make Guinness comfortable
The Right-Minded coping mechanisms I use include…
~ True Forgiveness every time I feel guilt, fear or sadness
~ I release each day and each decision to my Inner Teacher
~ I remain present
~ I trust that I am doing the right thing in being centered in Truth and that I was stronger for Guinness and am stronger for myself for doing so
~ I am grateful for each and every moment I had with Guinness
~ I remind myself that Guinness and I are always connected and I envision hugging him frequently.
The important thing is to be in the moment, fully present and aware of yourself, your observations and your reactions so that you see what you need to forgive and the patterns your ego likes to repeat. Exposure of the ego thought system is vital to moving towards inner peace, or as we are taught in the Course, expose the ego so you can simply move beyond it.
Now that Guinness has moved on, I know that I was with him fully in the moment, loving him, appreciating him, and seeing him truly, as One with me forever. I look back knowing that I was vigilant for seeing things through Spirit’s eyes and not the ego’s eyes. I invite you to reflect upon how you would you like to live your life? Seeing with the ego? Or seeing the Truth? You deserve the Truth.
Love and Healthy Thinking,
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