Being Honest With Myself  

 

Beginning a healing journey

Brett Engle

Co-founder of Innovative Yogis

If you think I’m a shitty person, you’re right. Honestly, I’m the shittiest person I know.

 

Why? Cause I know every detail about my every transgression. Every comment behind someone's back, everything I stole without getting caught, every nasty thought that never crossed my lips.

 

Sure, I’ve hung out with some scumbags and there are some really famous shitty people, but I only know a fraction of the horrible shit they’ve done. I know every single fucked up thing I’ve ever done, which is a way longer list than I have about anyone else.

 

And I’m not some teachers pet church boy raised in a sheltered home who never had a chance to do bad things. Au contraire, I’ve done pretty much every shitty thing there is to do, other than murder (but I have attacked people with a deep desire to kill them, and no intention to stop… luckily there was always someone around to pull me off in those moments).

 

I also planned to continue being a shitty person to my dying day. I was ready for that journey.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I also was always a good person. I treated both friends and strangers with kindness, love and respect. I helped people without seeking any sort of reward for my generosity. I listened to those who needed an ear and gave support to those who needed a shoulder to cry on. I was just a shitty person too, ya know, at the same time as I was a good one.

 

Kind gentle soul by day, a vicious ghost rider by night.

 

It felt like the best way to build a life that balanced the two was to become an assassin working for the good guys, a James Bond or Agent of Shield, someone who channeled his hatred and anger into protecting the innocent from the villainous. I was ready to be a shitty person till my dying day if I could just use that shittiness for the greater good.

 

That all changed when I started to see through myself, past my personality, past my ego, past the false “sense of I” upon which each of us is built. I began to see through the societal structures and systems which had always seemed obvious and inevitable, and became aware of their inherent flaws and corruption.

 

Suddenly it was hard to believe in the good guy bad guy dichotomy, hard to hold onto my anger and hatred, and impossible to continue pretending that I was actually this avatar, a character which had been developed through an intricate dance of stimulus, response, and assignment of meaning.

 

At first this left me floundering - lost and confused, scared and nervous. Every internal habit and belief I’d developed in order to successfully navigate the world was revealed for the damage it was causing to my soul, but I didn’t have a new way to orient myself. It was a difficult place to be, astray without a rudder.

 

That’s when my yoga path started. It first arrived through a book my wife had given me 5 years earlier, a book which I’d refused to read.

 

At the time I was coming to the end of my psychology degree and realizing that science didn’t have all the answers which I’d always assumed they would. I began pushing the edge of what was acceptable thought, diving into the study of consciousness and the nature of reality with an open mind because my investigation with a skeptical mind had hit a wall. That’s when I suddenly felt called to begin reading the book my wife had gifted me, “Autobiography of a Yogi”.

 

Reading the life story of Yogananada and his deeper understanding of the science of yoga, I realized how much more I could be getting from my yoga practice. I’d been attending yoga classes and treating them the same way I’d treated football practice - a competitive workout focused fully on my physical development, but even so, I’d still gotten little moments of meditative experience as a side benefit. Now I saw that the meditation wasn’t the side, it was actually the core.

 

My practice changed from a physical workout to a spiritual exploration of myself through the application of an ancient scientific process. In yoga I found a system with which I could rebuild myself into the person I wanted to be, not the one which genetics, social pressures, and happenstance had shaped me into.

 

And now I sit here today, still a shitty person, but a less shitty one. The good person inside me has grown now that I know how to cultivate it, while the shitty side of me still lingers, arising when I’m triggered in my weak areas, reminding me that I still have work to do.

 

But I’m a happier shitty person now, and I’ve got a new mission. Instead of serving the greater good by killing the villains, I’m just gonna slay the demons inside of me and be here to help anyone else who wants to do the same.

 

Thanks to everyone who has inspired me onto this path, with a special shoutout to Sustainable Human and Charles Eisenstein! If you don’t know them then checkout the insightful video below. 

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