I was at the grocery store checkout line recently. The woman directly in front of me was checking out and had her baby in one of those harnesses strapped to her chest. She had a lot of groceries and was lifting large heavy items from the bottom of her cart.
I thought to help her but something stopped me. It didn’t feel right to interfere. So I stood there watching her do this heavy lifting with her baby strapped on her. I watched as thoughts like “Don’t just stand there and be a jerk, help her” float through my mind. But still, it didn’t feel right to do anything. So I continued standing there.
Then all of a sudden a woman from the next checkout line rushed over saying “Here let me help you” and lifted one of the items onto the belt. The mother initially said “thank you”.
For a tiny brief moment I felt like a total asshole for just standing there and not helping the mother.
But then a second later the mother said “Actually It’s okay, I’ve got it. Thank you”. The helper woman was taken aback and walked back to her line.
I looked at the mother and noticed that she was in great physical shape. I asked her if this is how she gets exercise. She smiled and said yes, that she doesn't get to the gym as much as she would like to.
I knew what I was feeling was right and glad I trusted it. The mother did not want or need help.
But let’s imagine the situation was different. Let's say that the mother was not physically strong and was actually exhausted. What if she did want help and I still didn’t feel right to offer? Perhaps she (the imaginary person I’m making up) is needing to learn to not expect people to read her mind and do what she wants them to do, which is passive-aggressive behavior. Maybe she would be pushed to experience her power and use her voice to ask for what she needs. In that situation I could be helping her too.
Many times to be and act consciously will take us out of and against societal norms and “proper” behavior. To truly help another and be selfless we must address our need to be liked and approved of by others. Some ways of conscious helping gets us gratitude and recognition of our efforts. That’s wonderful when that happens.
But not always.
There is no guarantee.
Sometimes I reach out or share from my heart and I am sincere, but it exposes something in that person and they are offended or hurt. I’m simply exposing something in them that was already there. I’m helping it come to the surface but I am not the cause of it.
But it’s really not what I do for another. Acting on my intuition connects me deeply to myself. And then life is far from boring or mundane. It is a daily adventure and I’m dancing ecstatically with existence.
This grocery store situation was minor for me compared to the bigger ones I've faced, but it shows the challenge of expanding consciousness. We might feel alone and be misunderstood. I sometimes do. But when I respond from a sense of trust, existence supports me and gives me a reassuring sign, a way of saying “Good, keep going”.
Before that woman came to help the mother I saw the gap between my being and my ego-mind. I was able to remain a witness to my programming. But then the helper woman acted unconsciously upon her own conditionings and that’s when I briefly felt some identification with “I’m an asshole”. The programming in me got suddenly stronger.
Then existence came in to give me a “good, keep going” by the mother standing up for herself. By doing so she helped me too.
I have my way of describing and experiencing this consciousness process. I also have my own way of conscious helping. But it’s the same for all of us regardless of how we package it: We all have a conscious being within and we all have a programmed ego-mind.
When we act consciously we help ourselves and each other simultaneously. When we act unconsciously however, we keep ourselves in that fog of programming and make it harder for others to see through the fog too.
We might fear trusting ourselves and making a mistake. Yet when mistakes do happen, they are needed learning experiences. I focus on learning what the experience was meant to teach me. Once I learn from it I can let it go and move on with a newly expanded consciousness.
Leela Haris - Expanding Consciousness