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.

 

 

 

Steady Awareness

self awareness

“In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without effort on your part.”

~ Sri Nisagardatta Maharaj

And so the path begins.

Being aware is the first step to bring about transformation from stress and anxiety, and to find peace of mind.

It is a small step, but not an easy one for our mind to embrace.

The ego-mind doesn’t like to draw attention to itself, unless it is in affirmation or admiration! It would much rather remain in control, by telling us to keep doing what we are doing, and not try anything different that could threaten it’s hold on us.

Is it not incredibly arrogant for us to think that we know the answers? Beyond the ego-mind and clinging to how we want to see ourselves in the world, is an intelligence beyond our thinking.

In yoga we call this Prana or life energy. It is more than the energy to heal, energize and nourish the physical  body, it is the essence of life itself.

This is where miracles begin for our mind, body and spirit.

Namaste

 

Life is like … a yoga class

Image from Google

There is a belief  that many of us hold, that we have to progress or strive in life. We get meaning from meeting challenges and achieving our goals. But is this the truth?

Recently, I taught a Mindful Hatha yoga class with the intention of supporting people to grow in their asana practice. I wanted them to feel more confident in taking on postures that were out of their comfort zone.

I soon realized that participants have different intentions or needs. Not everyone wants to master a flow series or explore more challenging postures.

In fact, for practitioners who have come to yoga later in life, it may not be possible or advisable to attempt moves that put strain on wrists and knees, or require a strong core and flexibility…. And don’t get me started on trying heated yoga when your internal body temperature gauge is already worn out!

As we go through life our attitude and beliefs also change. Imagine your lifespan like a yoga class sequence.

Life is like … a yoga class

We start with the warm ups and prepare for later on.

We learn new skills and practice them to become more masterful.

We take on more challenging positions.

We keep learning and striving until we reach our peak.

Then we shift attention towards finding balance.

We slow down and tune in more to what is happening in our mind, body and inner being.

We relax.

We let go and take the time to nourish and restore ourselves.

Older yogis, like myself, may enjoy a good challenge now and again, but for the most part, we are at the stage in life where finding balance and appreciating the beauty of slowing down is more important. At the same time however, we must also maintain our strength and flexibility to stay healthy and mobile.

For me, I want my already worn parts to last me for as long as I need them! Muscle strains and  tissue tears are no fun as we age, and can take a long time to heal.

Sometimes I forget. My job as a yoga teacher is to ensure my students are safe, and that they listen to what their body is telling them, not what the yoga teacher wants for them. Tuning in more to the participants and less to what you think they “should” be doing, is key to becoming a masterful yoga teacher.

Let us all encourage learning, and also be aware of when our own ego has taken over the class.

Namaste