David Swims“Timers ready? Swimmers, take your mark…”

I was supercharged with energy for our parent/coach relay at my daughter’s district championship meet. The head coach had chosen me to swim anchor in our 200 yd free relay (no pressure!). The gun went off—the entire aquatic center erupted with hundreds of cheering kids and parents. What a blast of energy!

But 20 minutes beforehand, my strength had been on the edge of sliding into fear and insecurity. I was warming up with superstar swimmers in their 20’s who were built and super fast. For a moment I felt the familiar sapping effect of fear on my strength (I spent many of my teenage years in fear and weakness).

I yanked myself out of the past and into the present. This was for FUN and I had nothing to loose. I went to a quiet spot and did my routine: Hush—Heart—Lift—Flow. Could it work for sports? (the answer is YES)

My muscles loosened up. Energy flooded my body.

I swam fast (26 second split, no breath) with a huge grin on my face. We came in second to last, but that didn’t matter at all. It was a blast to compete, and was a huge boost to my confidence.

But here came the tricky part:

The glorious joy I experienced while swimming yearned to continue.  The moment passed, I rejoined my family, and the meet resumed.  I was still pumped, but nowhere near content. Some part of me wanted to sustain my moment of personal glory. I felt the pull of an ancient bad habit: seeking joy from the outside-in.

Flashback 30 years to my solo debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony. We had a party afterwards with all of my friends, but I was no longer the center of attention. I felt hugely disappointed. But what had I actually expected? All-day adoration? Really?

I felt an empty hole needing to be filled with recognition from others, but I knew from previous experience that my ego could be insatiable.  For the first time in ages, it wanted to squirm out of its silence and shout “hey everybody, look what I did!” The trouble is, I knew darn well that few people would care to the level that me ego craved. Did I really merit attention from others? My ego thought so, but I knew that it could never answer how much is enough? I was deeply uncomfortable.

But finally that evening I was able to switch the direction of my energy.  From the embers of the glorious joy I lit the inner fire of meditation. Only then could I feel my energy rise, like the Olympic torch lighting the flame at my spiritual eye (the method of meditation I use, Kriya Yoga, is the practice of doing just that). I was once again whole with contentment, inner joy, and deep calmness that my soul daily craves.

Basking in your glory is great If it gives you confidence to succeed in the future. Not so great when it over-inflates your ego.

And when it feels like stale popcorn in comparison to your soul’s true joy, utilize it as fuel when you turn again within.

Basking in Your Glory—Good or Bad for the Ego?

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