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.

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Inner peace may mean different things to different people. Some may believe that inner peace is different for all of us, which can also make defining inner peace a challenge. For many of us, the desire for inner peace can be clouded by definition or in our inability to possess the knowledge to find such a state of being. For myself, inner peace is a mental state of being not clouded by the repetitive conditioned programmed thinking of my mind. A state of being where my true conscious self is separate from the manipulation of my thought stream. Like too many people, I had a rough start. I was raised in the 1960s during a time where the line between discipline and abuse had not yet been drawn by society and where, in many homes, neglect and victimization was the norm. In too many arenas, it is still the same for many unfortunate children and young people today. As a result of the environment I was raised in, I spent most of my twenties in a state of mental anguish. At the age of 27 I came to the understanding that abusing drugs and alcohol was not the answer for dealing with a tortured mind, and though I was able to accomplish and attain many material things that the world had to offer, I wanted something more, inner peace. After being diagnosed with institutional grade PTSD and several sever forms of depression, I decided to take on the challenge of psychoanalytic therapy. For 13 years, I worked with therapists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and medical doctors to address the disorders that were the result of my upbringing. I included personal studies of psychology and human behavior to add more knowledge in my pursuit of wellness. By the age of 40, as I had always done, I was sharing the knowledge I had gained and my life experience with others with similar situations to my own. Despite my efforts, I could still not separate from the mind of a manic depressive. I could not attain inner peace. My desire for inner peace led me to meditation. Meditation is a practice that separates us from the workings of the conditioned programmed mind and the endless stream of thought. After several months of mediation studies and practice, I began to feel the separation of my true self from the confines and mental torture of my own mind. At that moment a new, although difficult, journey had begun. I spent years of riding the roller-coaster of mental anguish and peace as I continued my struggle to mental freedom. Now, 18 years since my meditation studies commenced, I find myself in a state of conscious presence that allows me to live peacefully with a mind suffering from mental illness. My journey has included sharing my knowledge and understanding of the inner workings of the mind with others to help them attain peace and joy as I have; aiding them in their quest to escape the suffering of the confines of their programmed conditioned minds. I have recently taken my teaching to a new level, carrying myself as a published writer, teaching mediation and sharing the knowledge of the ability for each and every one of us to achieve our natural state of being, which is peace, love and joy.