EGO – FRIEND OR FOE?

Ego refers to that part of us from which we derive our sense of self-worth or importance. For most, ego plays a major part in how we identify ourselves. It is that part of you that you use to separate yourself from others; for example, “I am better” or “I am worse.”  It is an individual thing, yet also a collective form of identification. Entire entities, organizations, political and religious groups, even countries and nations fall into the ego mind-set; sometimes resulting in great accomplishment, sometimes disaster. Many a war and negative situation have been waged as a result of ego; while at the same time, many people have been rescued from horrid situations as a result of the ego-driven desire to prove a point or to be observed as better than others. For the student of meditation, once identified, one’s ego can become a powerful source of understanding and a tool which can be used to strengthen oneself in times of need.

Early on in their studies, the student of meditation learns to identify the characteristics of their own ego. As they see their own ego it becomes easy to recognize it in others, which allows a deepening presence of understanding, forgiveness and love when dealing with their fellow humans. That said, the benefits of ego identification for the student are powerful. Through meditation practices one learns to identify the mental mind-made motivation behind their egotistical behaviors. As with so many things, the mere act of bringing these thoughts and behaviors to conscious awareness alleviates their hold on the practitioner and greater stillness and peace are achieved.

Over time and with practice the student learns to use their ego as a tool to help motivate them in certain situations without falling into its trap of self-identification. For instance, one may use ego to help complete a task, or to motivate them to take better care of themselves. As a teacher, using an individual’s ego to motivate them towards conscious behaviors can be very useful in the early parts of meditation education. As with many aspects of our personality, ego is to be understood, brought to conscious awareness and even nurtured and loved.

A meditation, try it out, here and there, when it comes to mind, or not.  While meditating (focused  attention while observing thought) bring your attention to ego-driven thoughts or thinking. Be aware if you interfere with the observation with judgements or accolades and return to observing.  See if you can identify ego-driven thoughts of self-identification. Be aware if you create conflict with the thinking and try to simply observe. As with the majority of meditation practices, simple non-judgmental awareness of thought and behavior brings such things to conscious awareness and meaningful lasting change comes effortlessly.

It’s a new day.

Repetition

Repetition; defined it is the act of doing something again, whether it is something in text, verbal, or in action. Many things around us are in a constant state of repetition, the cycle of life and death, songs in our head, the patterns of weather, the formation of galaxies etc. We often repeat things to ourselves in order to remember them or to change our behaviors. We repeat many things in education as we try to learn and teach. Even food may be referred to as “repeating,” as when a meal doesn’t settle well in our stomachs. The student of meditation brings their awareness to the repetitive workings of their minds as they proceed on the path of conscious awareness.

Just as there are repetitive patterns and cycles in nature, the universe, all that exist; the student is aware of the mental patterns in their minds and behaviors that repeat. You’re aware of it, you have heard it, said it:  “Oh, I have been here before,” “I’ve heard that before,” “I felt this before,” etc.  We are aware of thinking and emotional reactions to said thinking, which repeats, taking us down the same journey of mental patterns and behaviors. The student is aware as repetitive patterns of thinking provoke a mental and/or physical reaction which is quite familiar. Some pleasant, some they identify as negative; nevertheless, aware of the repetitive workings of their minds.

The majority of us do it throughout our lives, repeating stories and mental movies in our minds, some decades old, which provoke a certain response in us that often brings up feelings of comfort or despair. They are a repetitive trap of our thinking which leads to past or future thoughts that interfere with our present levels of conscious awareness. That interferes with the quality of our lives. It’s ok, or it’s not.  The difference for the student of meditation is their awareness of the repetitive workings of their minds. That awareness, that acknowledgement, of the repetitive actions of the thought-stream changes everything. The change is that there is less repetition of thought patterns that pull them from peace, love and joy.

A meditation, try it out here and there, when it comes to mind, or not.  When practicing some meditation (see “Let’s Meditate” at www.wakingupwithpatrick.com) be aware when thoughts come to mind which have been repeated in your head. Tune into the emotions they provoke. Perhaps you’ll feel good, bad or indifferent. Whatever.  The plan would be not to interfere, merely observe. Be aware if you judge or have conflict with the repetitive thought. Aware if you interfere with the observation. Aware, yet separate. Often times bringing the repetitive thoughts to conscious awareness is all you need to do to quiet them.

It’s a new day!  Your day!

Observation

The act of observing:  to look upon another human, an object, a situation, etc. Some people observe to gain knowledge of something or someone. Some also observe to draw conclusions and understanding in order to make decisions about situations. Some of us are thought of as having “great powers of observation,” in-tune, aware, present, etc. Many an observation may be wrought with confusion or misinterpretation of a situation, depending on the conscious presence of the observer. For example, when one observes from prejudice, ignorance, judgement, etc., the resulting conclusion may often be in conflict with peace, love and joy. Some students of meditation spend time observing, their practices include awareness of any mental responses to their observation.

The student sat quietly on the ground, close enough to observe, yet distant enough to separate from the goings-on around them. There were many people in their view, some in intimate conversation and others preoccupied with the task before them. The student was aware of a faint unidentifiable smell of smoke in the air and the sensation of a quiet breeze blowing across their skin. Silent, still they tuned into sounds of chattering birds feeding on some seed-laden grasses. Conscious, still aware of the emotional vibe of those around them; calm, yet excited, joyful and loving. Then bringing their attention to their own serenity in the moment, their state of observation, they sighed and felt peace beyond words, beyond understanding. Through unanswerable, unquestionable, non-judgmental, observation, presence was felt.

A meditation, try it out here and there, now and then, when it comes to your mind, or not.  Focus your attention on your breath, simply breathe in and out; count the breaths if it helps. While you’re breathing bring part of your attention to the things going on around you. You may say to yourself, “I am observing the sensations in my body,” “I am observing the sounds in the room.”  Similar to saying “aware” yet slightly different. Aware is when things come to mind, observing is purposefully making yourself aware of something. As with an awareness meditation, be conscious if and when your mind interferes, then observe that happening to you. Observe from a place of no thought. If you cannot, practice until you can.

It’s a new day.