Insidious Ego In My Head

The world as we know it is mostly driven by egos. On all levels. From conflicts between nations and religious warfare via corporate competition and political campaigns down to workplace politics, family dynamics and intimate relations. Although to various degrees, all of us have this innate urge to be heard, respected and appraised by others. And when this doesn’t happen (and I dare say this seems to happen more often than not) we react in a multitude of ways ranging from mildly indignant to downright cruel. Because it is only normal to react when our egos are hurt, right? Maybe. But it is not the only way, and certainly not the best way. Thankfully.

As I see it, the non-physical part of what I like to call me, is comprised of three components: my soul, my mind and my ego.

Zen stonesFirst and foremost is my soul which is the subtle essence of who I really am. The soul is indestructible, eternal and divine and the only part of my whole being which is capable of love as well as the source of my intuition.

Secondly, is my chattering and at times ungovernable mind. A cognitive tool I have been given to navigate this life experience, and until not long ago my mind was more or less in charge of the whole shebang I call life. I am slowly but surely learning to put my mind in the place where it belongs, namely as my faithful and obedient servant.

Then there is this third part. Easily insulted and humiliated, never completely satisfied and on an eternal mission to detect and mercilessly judge flaws in myself and others. It is everything my soul is not. It is my ego.

My earliest memory of having consciously thought of the phenomenon of the ego was several years back. Someone I dated repeatedly exclaimed “Well, I do have an ego!!” in order to justify his less amicable actions. Having never thought of this before I sort of initially assumed that honoring one’s ego was a normal and just thing to do. -I deserve to put me first! Needless to say, our little union quickly became history.

In Alcoholics Anonymous on the other hand, you learn that an important aspect the 12-step program of recovery is ego deflation. The ego is the origin of Stinkin’ thinkin’ and something that should never be honored. This resonated more with me than the previous notion.

With time I sort of developed an attitude of trying to recognize when my reactions were ego based and if they were, then try not to honor those influences. This is of course something that is easier said than done when gallons of adrenalin are flushing pure, undiluted insanity through your system and a clear, loving thought is nowhere to be seen. I had however not yet discovered the true nature of the ego: Pure malice.

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The ego is “suspicious at best and vicious at worst.” And we should not underestimate its vengeance.Marianne Williamson

It was however not until I heard Marianne Williamson’s words on the ego in a recording from a workshop she held on A Course in Miracles that the penny really dropped. Never again could I be fooled into consciously believing that the ego should be honored some times and ignored other times. It will never have my best interest at heart. Not in a million years.

The Ego is an impostor that will make me self-sabotage everything good coming my way. It will set me up for failure and then mock me afterwards for having been so stupid to take the bait:

– Go on!! You know you want to! You deserve it!! You will enjoy it. Everyone else is doing it!! Come on now!

Then disaster strikes as if often does when I do something I shouldn’t have. And guess who stands shamelessly at the other end ready to assess my performance?

– How could you have been so stupid?? You should have known it would end like this!! It did the last time! You messed up again!! You’re hopeless!

This is only one of the numerous methods the ego has for making life miserable. Another effective trick is to convince me that I want, deserve and am worthy of something like a certain job or a romantic relationship, only to start finding flaws with my new job or special someone once it arrives. Never satisfied and always rejecting the now as anything but ideal and perfect. -There has to be something better out there!?! This can’t be it?!? Not to forget the oh-so-effective: This is too good to be true (-must find flaws)!

Marianne Williamson explained how she did not use to believe the Devil was real. She would convince herself: -The Devil only exists in my head, only to realize that in her head was the worst possible place in the universe it could be. Alas, meet your ego: The true Devil in your head!

Man on top of mountainSo how do we get rid of this dark force within us? We can’t eradicate the ego any more than we can eradicate darkness. But just like darkness cannot exist when light is shone on it, the power of the ego vanishes in the face of love. We need to recognize it for what it is, namely a force that is not acting in our best interest, and then choose not to act on the impulses it sends us. Choosing one’s reactions and emotions sounds like sorcery to many, but this is completely doable with practice. Meditation is an excellent way to build the mental stamina needed to face your ego without fear or compromise. Your ego can only ever hurt you or boss you around if you let it. 

Try to become aware of this the next time you feel the adrenalin pumping through your veins and you’re about to do something that may give you instant satisfaction but are likely to regret later. Like sending that angry email or buying that gorgeous thing you really cannot afford. Try to stop and ask yourself: Is this my ego trying to take over the show? And then try to choose a reaction that is in your best interest long-term. This is what true freedom is. Freedom from the ego’s cunning ways to make us screw things up.

In The Matrix the ubiquitous Agent Smith compares us humans to a virus on this planet. In our current state he might be on to something but I don’t think the human race is altogether incapable of harmony and sustainable abundance. That is if we collectively can learn to embrace our loving souls instead of our vicious egos. As a species we have the ability to create magnificent wonders as well as unfathomable destruction. Both forces are intrinsically embedded within every single one of us, in the form of the soul and the ego. Which voice we choose to make our master however, is entirely up to us.

Soulfully Yours,

Kristian

Meditation Generation

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I meditate daily and have done so for more than a year. As promised in my previous post I will now share some of my experiences with meditation with you. What started as a remedy to feel a little bit better while going through some difficult stuff has become an amazing sanctuary that has surpassed all expectations from a year back. I really had no idea what would come of it or where it could take me.

So what is meditation really? There are several ways of describing it: -Cardio for your mental stamina. -Stretching for the soul. -Relief from the mind’s perpetual chatter. And much more.

My first real experience with meditation was in Hong Kong several years back when a friend told me about a meditation teacher she had heard of. For quite some time I had been curious about what meditation was and wanted to learn to do it. I did however not get a lot out of the two sessions I had with this teacher, which probably was not the teacher’s fault. I wasn’t really ready and besides, the style she taught was not something that really resonated with me. Meditation is not really a skill you learn, and so, there are no rights or wrongs. Each must find his own way.

With meditation really not being a skill anymore than lying down or relaxing, it is something everyone can discover or rather remember. Although being a natural state of the non-physical part of us, it is a state that most of us forget as we grow up and are assimilated into the hectic mindset of modern society. Meditation is re-connecting with your inner self, which quite frankly is an amazing resource that most people are more or less oblivious to. Meditation can help you access your intuition in a way that is impossible if your mind is active. I am not talking about hunches about doing this or that, I am talking about a reliable and consistent connection to your intuition, inner being, sub-consciousness or whatever you choose to call it.

MagicFlowerOnWater1When  I meditate I generally prefer to use guided meditations that fit my mood and life situation at that time. There are several good ones to choose from, and I personally recommend the ones from Meditation Oasis simply because they are the ones I used in the beginning. They can be downloaded for free as podcasts from iTunes and there is one to fit your every mood: breath awareness, patience, grief, gratitude, opening of the heart, relief from stress, accessing intuition, Chakra meditation etc etc.

I prefer lying down when meditating but you can also be seated if you prefer that. Personally, I don’t like to meditate when I’m so tired or sleepy that I drift in and out of sleep, simply because I find it confusing when the surreality of the dream state is mixed with the consciousness of the meditation. There are however no rights and wrongs here, what is important is that you find a way that works for you.

So what does it feel like? Well, it is more or less an exercise in not thinking thoughts, but to allow the mind to go quiet leaving space for everything else that is inside of you to come forward. By gently focusing on your breathing or just enjoying the gentle stillness of the mind you can experience inner peace, emotional ease or just a comfortable feeling of well-being. By all means, thoughts will appear in a meditation. This is completely normal, especially during stressful or emotionally challenging times. The trick is to not follow the train of thoughts but to allow them to drift out of your consciousness from whence they came.

It is not about making something happen, or trying to induce a particular experience. However, when you get more and more used to meditate, extraordinary things can happen that could leave you baffled and eager to delve deeper into your inner self. To many this may sound scary, I have however never found anything that has not been to my benefit. (However, if you know that you have a lot of unresolved junk in your past, seeking guidance from a professional may be a good idea before trying to fix things on your own).

I think my most “tangible” weird experience with meditation happened a few weeks back. I had meditated for about 25 minutes, finished and went to watch TV afterwards. After about five minutes I realized that I hadn’t put on my glasses after finishing the meditation (I normally wear contacts) but to my surprise I could see everything clearly. Completely astonished I checked if I could see clocks and other stuff far away that I normally need glasses for. And I could! When putting on my glasses it was as if they weren’t mine; I couldn’t see clearly with them. This lasted for the rest of the day until I went to sleep and woke up with my regular -1.5 nearsightedness the next day. When telling my optometrist about this he had no good explanation as to what might have happened here.

Meditation and relaxation on an empty roadI know that many people are curious about meditation, but don’t quite know where to start and how to go about it. By all means, it is not a quick fix for anything, but instead offers a more soothing relief over time. It is however an exciting path where you can reap fruits in areas that you never imagined you would. Meditation could give benefits such as self-confidence, self-acceptance, patience, stress management, self-love, peace of mind and much, much more. Please don’t lose your courage if you feel you cannot get the hang of it straight away. Practice makes perfect and remember that continuity is of the essence here.

So if you feel like trying this, you are not alone. More and more people are discovering the world of meditation, and hopefully in not a too distant future meditation will be as normal as brushing one’s teeth or reading the newspaper. I am absolutely convinced the world will be a better place for it.

Meditatively Yours,

Kristian