Ego’s Last Stand

I have been thinking about ego this week and how it shows up in our lives.

When the mind cannot accept a reality that goes against its own persona, it creates all sorts of stories to find a way to make it acceptable. We are seeing this unfold very publicly here in the US.

Someone who sees himself as a winner, was chastised as a loser growing up, and who now despises losers, cannot face being a loser himself.

A strong ego is driven by its need to be right. When it is threatened it will immediately shift blame, create stories and act out, so the ego is validated.

This is the ego’s last stand for survival.

A blow to our ego is one of the most hurtful things to experience. It cuts right into how we see ourselves and want to be seen. I recall times in my life when I expected  people to appreciate me, only to be disappointed when they didn’t. This is all about the ego and looking for validation.

For those of us on a spiritual path or working towards self realization, be especially careful where ego many hiding.

If you have difficulty saying “I don’t know” or “I was wrong” or “I am sorry” or “I forgive you” or “Please forgive me”, then your ego may still be very much in charge.

An other question to ask yourself as you talk to others, share on WordPress or whenever you are in relationship to someone:

“Am I doing this unconditionally or is there something I expect or hope for in return?

Sometimes we create stories that we are doing something for the good or others, but behind the altruism is an ego wanting to feel appreciated and validated.

Take some time to notice how your ego may be showing up in your life. Whenever you need to be right, its right there.

Awakening to What?

Those of us who see ourselves on a journey of self realization or spirituality, have a sense of awakening. But an awakening to what? I wonder if we all awaken to the same thing, or if we awaken to whatever we are ready to awaken to…

Whatever it is, when we find it we think “This is it!” But it is really so? Is it the final piece of the puzzle or just an other piece along the way that finds its rightful place?

woman in blue and white floral long sleeve shirt holding a round shaped puzzle

Photo by Wesley Carvalho on Pexels.com

As I reflect on my life there have been moments of awakening, when it seemed like my inner world and outer world launched into a new way of being. Yet, on reflection it is now clear that these have just been pieces of the puzzle.

These pieces connected to each other, yet they revealed only a part of a great unknown picture. Here are my reflections on my journey towards the unknown and the awakenings along the way.

Life Awakenings

I can only imagine what it must have felt like when I first discovered I was no longer in a dark and nourishing space merged with my mother. This experience is beyond my thinking,  but I can imagine how traumatic and profound it must have been becoming separate and in all that bright light!

The next awakening was when I learned who I was in relation to other things and people. My ego developed as I grew into a separate human being with preferences and beliefs. I learned how to get what I wanted, how to be in relationship with others. I created beliefs about who I was as a girl child, daughter, sister etc…

Not long after this revelation came, the waking up to feeling hurt when I didn’t get what I wanted, or when I was not seen in a way that I wanted to be seen, or when I felt abandoned and unloved. I believed that there was something wrong, and it was me. I wasn’t good enough. So I would try to be good and perfect.

This part lasted for quite some time. I continued to learn who I was in this world from those around me, and in the roles I played. I was looking outward for validation and love.

Then as an adult I awakened to the part of me that wanted to express herself fully. To slough off the conditioning and expectations of others. I started to look inward so I could find the real “me”, not through anyone else’s eyes, but through my own… Awakening to myself as a strong individual who mattered… Stepping into my own shoes and expressing myself to the world.
From not being good enough, I realized I was precious, unique and strong. I could make things happen! I took on challenges and overcame my fears. It was a period of tremendous personal growth.

Around then I began training to became a life coach. For the past 20 years I have worked with people to discover who they are as unique human beings who can overcome challenges and be their authentic best in the world.

Yet, this was not the end. From this place of self growth, confidence and expansion, an other kind of awakening started to unfold. One where I started to question who “I” was.

self inquiry

At a time when I was disillusioned with the competitive, self absorbed human beings around me, I fully embraced yoga and took my first yoga teacher training. Unlike a lot of yoga trainings nowadays, our practice was more than postures, sequencing and breath work. We had time for self reflection, we read yoga philosophy, and committed to following the eightfold path of Patanjali.

Through yoga I became aware that my personal “self” was made up of my thoughts and beliefs. The world around me mirrored my own perception of it.  I had been creating stories about who “I” (this “small self”) was. I had grown as a person, but had replaced stories of not being good enough, with new stories about all I could achieve and show the world.

A part of me still got caught in patterns of self-doubt, fear and worry. I also had moments of glory and immense satisfaction and had glimpses of the timeless beauty and mystery of being alive.

In yoga I felt drawn to the belief that we are all connected and share the same Source or Conscious Presence. When one says “namaste” in greeting and farewell, it means that one recognizes the light shining within each of us.  This inner light is our true spiritual Self.  We connect to something more that our human body and thinking mind. Whether we call it God, the Divine, Brahman, Source, Presence or the Universe. There is a part inside of all of us that is connected to an infinite beingness, that words can’t fully describe.

Then something happened. It was like the outer shell cracked and the gloriousness of what was within was revealed. From understanding in my mind, I experienced a overwhelming feeling of love and connection with my fellow human beings, animals and nature.  There is a deep sense of oneness that is profound, no matter what is happening in life. It is hard to put into words, because it feels beyond words.

If I were to try to use words, it was be something like a veil had been lifted to reveal what had always been there. It is something that once felt, can always be accessed.

The aum symbol of yoga symbolizes this seeing beyond the veil and embracing an unchanging reality of oneness with spirit or pure consciousness.

aum symbol with meaning

Finding Your Middle Ground

Finding your middle ground is the gateway to this awakening.  The starting point is when we take time to pause and become self aware. We begin, by simply learning to slow down and noticing what is going on inside: our thoughts, judgments, emotions, body sensations … and al the stories we make up about ourselves and the world around us.

I like to think of it as the phase of personal expansion and growth. Its a place of new perspectives, letting go of the past, and understanding and truly accepting ourselves as imperfect human beings.

We start to explore new aspects of ourselves, our passions and what gives us meaning in life. Taking time to pause and ask ourself the deep questions that we want to know the answers to, allows us to go beyond what we know in our mind and tap init the wisdom in our heart.

From this place of mindful awareness, we can come new insights into who we are beyond our beliefs and conditioning. Beyond our own small separate self.

With more compassionate self awareness, meditation and mindful living, a new way of seeing ourselves and the world unfolds.
We realize that we are not separate, but are connected to something so much bigger, and to each other.
We come to know that we are not the master of the universe, but are simply a part of it all.
There is no right or wrong, because we know that it’s our thoughts that make it so. Everything becomes as it is.
We stop resisting life, and begin to let go into its own flow.
We let go of ego and surrender to being small as we connect to the Source of being. From wanting to be somebody, we embrace being nobody.

Wherever we are on life’s path, we can open ourselves to new insights and awaken to a new way of expanded being.

As human beings perhaps our purpose is to awaken to what we are ready for, and to be open to surrendering to the next unknown.

Thank you for joining me on this journey to freedom.

Namaste

Dealing with Ego on a Spiritual Path

When we are on a spiritual path, the idea of ego becomes something to overcome and get past. It feels contrary to how we want to be in the world.
Its the part of ourselves that we would rather hide or deny rather than show. So we battle with it or suppress it…. or disguise it.

ego in disguise

Here are some examples from my own experience of an ego in disguise:
~ We see ourselves as knowledgeable and evolved…. so we don’t want to be seen as not knowing or caught up in our self image.
~ We see ourselves as spiritual beings who give a lot to others…. so we don’t want to appear selfish and put ourselves first.
~ We see ourselves as good people in a world of danger and mistrust… because the world is a place where things are out of our control and other people can harm or take advantage of us.

Does this sound familiar to you? Can you see the ego at play here – in our thoughts about how we don’t want to be.
That’s our ego in disguise.
We are creating a “better” ego to overcome the inferior one from the past.

The irony is that in order for us to evolve past our ego we need to get intimate with it and acknowledge it. If we want to truly evolve into a new level of consciousness then this is the place that must be embraced.

silhouette of man standing near body of water

Photo by brenoanp on Pexels.com

When we look at the aspects of our ego, or our shadow side, and we feel resistance and discomfort … its a good thing.
Of course, this very human part of us doesn’t want to be looked at. Yet, when we accept is as a part of our experience, we begin to see it more clearly. We  feel it’s impact and see the power it has had over us for most of our lives … even now.

Being awake and conscious  and witnessing how our ego comes and goes is something that the most enlightened people are able to do.  It brings a smile and possibly a shrug. There is curiosity, compassion and detachment.

We cannot deny it just as the left needs the right, one side of a coin has to have the other, and  they cannot be separated from the other.

When we accept it and see it for what it is, it loses its power. We must embrace it in order for it to be no longer important as a driver in our lives.

If we continue to beat it up it will find ways to become more powerful in our thinking and stories about ourselves.

Be kind to your ego, so you can let it go and transform into your whole Being.

 

Self Questioning

free image from Dreamstime

“To have the courage to

Question one’s certainties, is

True courage.”

~ The Lost Writings of Wu Hsin translated by Roy Melvyn

Sit with this a while and see what comes up for you…

Bringing our awareness to the beliefs that we hold, and usually take for granted, is the first step in our personal growth and spiritual self inquiry. When we look inwards and question our thinking and assumptions, it opens up new perspectives and gives us the opportunity to learn about what has been unknown…. or what may never be discoverable in this life.

This venture into the unknown is a courageous path because the ego-mind will be alert for any conflicting views or threats to its long held position. The ego holds on to those beliefs that have become our certainties about life. It can keep us rigid, stubborn, critical and damning, or simply safe and stuck.

The choice is ours. To embrace the new or hold on to our certainties.

To those on the path of Yoga teacher training, take courage as you embrace what is beyond belief.

Namaste

 

Ego in Yoga

This is a re-post  especially for those on the spiritual path of yoga.


hydra

“Ego can take many different forms and shapes. It is like the hydra. You cut off one head and another head replaces it. You cut off that head and see a third head and a fourth head ad infinitum.

This is because in the manifest dimension, ego identity is the root of life, and if the ego identity is lost, then life as we know it no longer exists.

It exists as light; life becomes light.”

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

I enjoy reading the different metaphors explaining the complexity of our ego, and can relate to the idea of a hydra. Our ego will do everything in its power to survive – especially adapting and changing shape.

The ego is very clever. It will allow one version of our body-mind to die and create a better version that fits in with either (1) how it wants to be seen in the world or (2) what is perceives is needed to stay alive in its physical body.

In my experience with others on a spiritual path, the newer version of ego is likely to be a more evolved version of the previous one. It may show up as being kinder person, a more patient parent, a wiser leader, a humble follower, a beacon of sanity in a world judged as mad…

These are still roles that the ego plays. Less damaging perhaps, yet still ego driven.

Recognizing the hydra heads of the ego is the gateway to le

The answer however is not to keep cutting its heads off. After all this would be an ego motivated act!

Instead embrace ego for what it is. A part of our very human nature that clings to life. It is neither good nor bad. It simply is.

Then we can wake up and realize we really are the divine light beyond ego and our human form.

Namaste

Enlightenment and Spending Time with Family

For everyone spending time with the Fokkers this year. This is a re-post and reminder just in time for Christmas and New Years.

☯︎☮︎☯︎☮︎☯︎☮︎☯︎☮︎☯︎

meet the parents

“If you think you are truly enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents.”

~ Ram Dass

I laughed out loud when I read this today! Visiting back home definitely brings me back down to earth. I then googled to see what others said about this and found this wisdom from Eckhart Tolle.

“It is a good test for your degree of Presence. The more shared past there is in a relationship, the more present you need to be; otherwise, you will be forced to relive the past again and again.

… You will gain the most from this experience if you don’t take it too seriously, if you don’t create impossible standards for your conduct of behavior, if you try so hard to be Present and Still that you behave like a robot, if you withdraw into a cocoon of self-protection, or if you blame your family members for every little imperfect act from the past that harmed you in some way.

Instead, and above all, choose to relax, reduce your expectations for what may or may not happen, expect little skirmishes, disagreements, moments of humility or failure, and the distance you may feel with your family as a whole, knowing that you are trying to move beyond the ego patterns that have been impediments to your soul and that they care less about ego and Presence and even Truth.

Love and accept them where they’re at. Have compassion for their pain. Be observant while being engaged as guilelessly as possible. Watch yourself and your reactions, out of curiosity, not judgment or blame, but for the benefit of learning how and where you’re really at in your spiritual evolution.”

So … Don’t take it too seriously. Relax. Expect to re-live some moments rooted in the past. Love and accept them for who they are, rather than wishing them to be different. And above all, don’t just bring a present Be Present.

Namaste

 

Inflicting Pain and Forgiveness

This is a repost for all those struggling with pain and forgiveness. When the pain eases we can see more clearly. 
pain

If I were to ask you “Do you go around inflicting pain on to others?”

Most of you would answer with a vehement NO!

That’s because the idea of being a mean person or a bully is simply not acceptable to us. We cannot see ourselves in contradiction to our beliefs and values. Its our protective ego that cannot face the possibility. It holds on strong to its belief about how we appear in the world… and what is acceptable to ourselves.

Yet, when we take time to pause and reflect, most of us do unintentionally inflict pain on others.
Consider if you have done any of these:

Not seen someone who wants to be acknowledged.
Forgetting to call.
Making judgments.
Withholding.
Getting distracted.
Being late.
Withdrawing.
Holding on to resentment.
Sticking to a particular way of doing things.
Stonewalling.
Acting out in anger.
Holding on to your beliefs.

All of these actions can cause pain for others.

We may tell ourselves its not our fault or we are protecting ourselves. After all, it may not be our intention to cause pain. However, the outcome is, that we do.

In the same way, we feel pain when others act in this way towards us.

How many times have you felt hurt by someone because of one or more of the above actions?

It is the nature of human beings to be egocentric and self protective. And when we are, we are capable of inflicting pain on others. We are all imperfectly human – no matter how hard we try to be perfectly in control.

When we accept this, we can begin to forgive ourselves and others. This is a huge step on life’s journey to finding real peace of mind.

Follow this link to a Forgiveness Meditation which will guide you towards forgiveness and peace.

After all, we are only human. Despite our failings we are also filled with love … and a capacity to forgive.

 

Inspiration – Eckhart on ego

ego burden

“If you consider the ego to be your personal problem, that’s just more ego.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

Smiling …. After all, my ego is much bigger problem compared to yours!

Today, let go of taking things so personally and let your ego take a back seat. Let go of comparisons and feeling you are alone. You are not.

We all have gone through these feelings.

What happens next depends on your decision to let go, and move forward.

Realize that there is a more powerful You ready to take charge and facilitate your growth.

Let go of the personal and join the rest of us on the same journey.

Namaste

I Can’t Do This!

© creative commons stock photos   ID 109887606 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Have you ever told yourself “I can’t do this! I want to, but I can’t.
I am too stressed, worried, anxious, afraid, distracted, angry, irritated …. and anyway, there isn’t enough time!”

This  is EXACTLY the time you should consider doing it.

Pay attention to your self talk and don’t believe it.
The answer lies beyond the ego mind’s denial.

If you want it, you can make it happen with all you heart and not your head.

 

Authentic Being

 

find your middle ground

“When you don’t play roles, it means that there is no self (ego) in what you do. There is no secondary agenda: protection or strengthening of your self. As a result your actions have far greater power. You are totally focused on the situation. You become one with it. You don’t try to be anybody in particular. You are most powerful, most effective, when you are completely yourself.”

~ Eckhart Tolle taken from A New Earth

It sounds straightforward enough, but it isn’t easy to become completely ourselves. It requires self inquiry and awareness of our thoughts, beliefs and how we interact with others.

So often, we let others define who we are in life. In our relationships, we take on roles all the time…. the good mother, the caring friend, the perfect daughter, the hard working employee, the life and soul of the party, the trend setter …

We then become attached to this image of how we think we should be, and lose our authentic self along the way.

To reveal our authentic being, we must learn to let go of how we define ourselves in this world. We must learn to pause and really focus on what is happening in that moment, without judgment.

In being present we find our Presence.

 

Refection – Being Strong

strong woman

I have become a Strong Independent Person. Its something that others admire. I also admire in others… and in myself.
This knowledge assures me, and it feeds this part of me. We have become quite attached to each other, SIP and I.

As long as I embrace this persona, and default to it in times of difficulty, then I find it hard to be vulnerable and dependent on others.
The dependent part of me I still judge as “weak”. I am also too ready to judge others who appear dependent and “weak”.

We all have a shadow side, which can be masquerading as our “good side”.

The ego is like that. It creates a story about what we want to admire in ourselves, and therefore what we see in others.

Yet, when the ego is in charge, it blocks off the heart and our ability to empathize and be truly compassionate.

My heart tells me to not be so strong. To allow myself to open more to others and trust in them and their goodness. To let go of trying to control with strength and will. To open to the inevitable.

May we all find acceptance of the shadow and the light within us, and find inner harmony.

Opinions about Opinions

When I was young I wanted to be grown up and have opinions. I believed that adults with opinions knew what life was about. And that’s what I wanted. I wanted to know things and feel secure in that knowledge, rather than being unsure and insecure.

And so I became opinionated.

I took on a lot of the same values and judgments of my family. But I also went against some of their ways of seeing other people and the world.

And so I formed my own opinions.

Then one day I asked myself  Do my opinions really matter? Do they make a difference or help others … or is it just a facade?  What was behind my opinions?

This is what I discovered.

We strive for knowing in an unknown world. Underneath we still feel insecure and unsure, but we believe that we are right about things. That makes us feel better.

As long as we are attached to our opinions, and how the world should be, our minds remain closed. We become prisoners of our opinions.

Our preferences prevent us from being open to the moment, and can take us off on a wild goose chase to feel more knowledgable, in control … and opinionated.

Opinions about how things should be, keep us hooked on specific outcomes. It takes us out of the present and prevents us from seeing alternatives and exploring new ways.

We judge others as ‘wrong’, when they don’t share our opinions. This increases separation rather than connection and understanding. We become more self centered.

Opinions are an expression of an evolved ego, not an evolved human being.

Of course, that’s just my opinion.