Last Wednesday night I was invited to see Small Mouth Sounds by playwright Bess Wohl at the Pershing Square Signature Center on 42nd Street. I’d been unable to attend the first “buzzmaker” event so I was super stoked to have another opportunity to see it. I mean, after all, could it be more perfect for me? A play about a silent meditation retreat? I think not. I brought J with me because he’s been getting a little more into meditation recently and enjoys seeing a play every now and then. 

The participants of the retreat are your basic stereotypes – obnoxious dedicated yogi, trainwreck white female, the couple who’s having issues, the grieving father, etc. We only hear the guru over the PA system (until the very end) and he’s not a very good guru because he sounds like he’s basically reading from a script. 

In yoga and meditation classes i’ve taken, we’re always told to be very mindful of what we discover in the silence between our breaths, the poses, etc, so a lot of what was being discovered onstage was ringing true to me. It’s always when we’re quietest that we learn the most (this is basically true in any situation in life). 

There are breakthroughs and deceptions, sexual encounters and realizations, and moments of comedy, too. Towards the end of the play, the guru begs his students to “PLEASE CHANGE” out of frustration at their lack of spiritual progress. Ironically, this leads to the most change that any of the characters experience throughout the entire week. 

The characters leave a little bit more woken up than when they arrived, but still basically the same. And so does the audience. I’d highly recommend Small Mouth Sounds, which is playing through October 8th.

For more information, check out this write up in Vanity Fair

Subtle Shifts in 42 Days

After reading Gabrielle Bernstein’s first two books, I ordered her latest, May Cause Miracles. I finished the 42nd day this morning and I’m in love with her way of thinking.

I know there’s a chance it could be a load of bullshit, but it’s helping me in small ways: I’m not feeding into people’s anger, or stress, and I’m learning forgiveness (of myself and others). And I’m not hurting anyone else, so who cares?

It’s been rather pleasant to wake up, read that day’s morning chapter, set my affirmation on my phone, then meditate. I’ve been feeling really serene after my morning meditations recently and it’s nice. I wish I could convince everyone I know to meditate, but there will always be skeptics or people who are just too stubborn to stop themselves for 10 minutes a day to slow down and just breathe.

Earlier this week a guy I’d once dated told me he was dating someone knew. I almost switched into victim-mode with “why is everyone in a relationship but me?!” but I witnessed this bullshit, emailed a friend who confirmed that it was bullshit, and then picked up May Cause Miracles before going to sleep. Noticing my bullshit coming up was huge for me. 

Her teachings are very similar to Eckhart Tolle’s because they both urge disassociation from the ego. I recently had a conversation with a friend who thinks that that the ego is your sense of self-esteem. This, in my opinion (and many others’ opinions), is false. A friend explained it to me like this: Your self esteem is your self worth, and your ego is all the labels that you can use to identify yourself and project onto the outside world. I think of the ego also as the way you use external affirmations to derive your self-worth (which of course is bullshit because happiness comes from within). 

The aforementioned friend thinks that not having an ego means not having an identity and he is skeptical of anyone who is anti-ego. What do you guys think?

Gabrielle Bernstein is giving a lecture at the end of July at NYU. My ticket is purchased and I’ve even convinced one of my good, semi-cynical guy friends (who is currently reading Spirit Junkie!) to come with me. 

So, ego vs. self esteem? Is there a difference?