You might be surprised to realize how many opportunities to grow in spiritual understanding you’ve missed simply because you were sleepwalking through life. Somnambulance – sleepwalking – is actually the state in which all of us live. We are physically awake but asleep to higher states of awareness. We go through our days on auto-pilot, acting out the programming that’s wired into our brains at a very early age. No wonder so many of us choose mind-numbing and soul-destroying activities like drugs, alcohol, and even exercise and meditation to block the pain of an unlived life. Yet, the antidote to this is simple – just wake up! Every day presents myriad opportunities to do just that. Take, for example, the Fried Chicken Episode that played out in my life last week.
It was Wednesday evening. I knew it was Wednesday evening because I participate in a class every Wednesday night. I’ve done this for years. Throughout the pandemic, the sessions have been held online. Online meetings make it easy to attend no matter where you are and what else you’re doing. That was the case for me. Around 6:15, I had decided to run out to the drugstore to pick up a prescription for my mom. I texted the class leader and obtained the phone number to call in at 6:30 and listen to the discussion. This worked wonderfully, and I happily waited in line at the pharmacy counter, listening to the class discussion.
As I walked out to my car, my thoughts wandered from the discussion taking place in my ears to the sensation of emptiness in my stomach. Then, in my mind’s eye, I saw the words “Fried Chicken” written on the weekly menu I’d prepared. “Sweet,” I thought, “I’ll stop at Publix on my way home and pick up dinner.” So off I went to Publix, still listening to the discussion through my earbuds.
I arrived home with a box of fragrant fried chicken and a carton of mashed potatoes, pleased with myself. I’d successfully accomplished all my required duties as a wife, mom, and daughter for this Wednesday evening – all while meeting my desire to attend class. As I pulled into the garage, I was feeling accomplished indeed! Then, all of a sudden, reality hit me. This was WEDNESDAY evening! Because I attend class on Wednesday evening, I don’t cook dinner! The fried chicken I’d seen so clearly in my mind was supposed to be for Thursday’s dinner!
Now, you might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? Just switch the dinner schedule.” That’s easier said than done in my house. For the past few years, our daughter prepares “breakfast for dinner” on Wednesdays. Because she’s on the autism spectrum, she’s very rigid about scheduling. She wouldn’t take easily to the idea of switching nights. Yet, I knew that it would be better to eat the fried chicken that night – it’s best when fresh and hot from the grocery. As I stood in the garage, fried chicken in hand, my stomach tensed, and my heart raced. I didn’t want to face the upset that my screw-up would cause. At this point, my programming kicked in full throttle. I felt myself getting furiously angry with myself for being so stupid. Just imagine what I was saying to myself inside my head! A General Audience version of it went like this: “How could I be so stupid as to buy dinner tonight when I knew perfectly well that it was Wednesday?” My over-active amygdala, tasked with making sure I survived, was frantically looking for a way out of this predicament. At the very moment when I thought I would explode in fear, anger, and self-abuse, I laughed!
That’s right, I laughed! Somehow after years of working toward just such a moment, I had achieved the impossible. I, the “Real I,” not the programmed mini-me that runs around being Jean, had awakened from its slumber. That “I” had looked at mini-me standing there in the garage holding a box of fried chicken and asked: “What does this seeming mistake have to do with the one whole and precious Essence that you are?” The answer was, of course, not a damn thing! So that’s why I laughed.
Still laughing, I walked into the house and announced that I’d made a hilarious mistake. Instead of walking in furious at myself and infecting everyone there with my negative emotions, I walked in as Who I Really Am. The result was magical, almost miraculous. As I shared my story with my family, we all sat down to eat fried chicken. We all had a good laugh at the ridiculousness of my knowing it was Wednesday and forgetting it was Wednesday all at the same time. Our daughter even suggested that she fix breakfast for dinner on Thursday!
Such is the state of sleepwalking in which most of us spend every supposedly “waking” moment of our entire lives. All the upset that we endure (and maybe even secretly welcome) can be avoided by seeing whatever is going “wrong” as the perfect opportunity to grow in spiritual understanding. When we know Who We Really Are, we can begin to live as Who We Really Are. Awareness and understanding precede being. Understanding allows us to know that what’s happening outside – in the external physical world – is meaningless. It is all here to show us the way inside where true freedom lies. When we live from the awareness that we are more than our programmed selves, we enter the heaven on earth that Jesus inhabited – the ability to be “in the world, not of the world.” So step outside your mind-made self. Here you will enjoy the freedom and peace that is the birthright of your True Self. Namaste!
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