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; 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!
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.
Stress in humans is a physical and/or emotional response by the body and mind to outside stimuli or internal mental thinking, resulting in the release of chemicals into the bloodstream. While its causes may vary, it is often thought of as the reaction to negative situations, although even seemingly positive moments or happenings can trigger it. For example, the excitement over a coming event, though a wonderful happening, may cause much stress over anticipation of the inevitable moment.
There is physical stress, for instance, the force of one object on another or the impact of exercise or exertion on the body. You can be stressed-out, over-stressed, under stress, the cause of stress, etc. For the student of meditation, mental stress is often the focus of study.
The student sat in a moment of quiet observation of the thoughts going through their mind. They were not thinking, rather watching the thoughts as they passed through their mind. They focused their awareness on the emotional impact provoked by some of the thoughts. The thoughts were random, some of the past, some of the future. Occasionally their mind focused on the moment and presence was felt, consciously aware of the act of meditation in the moment as they observed the stream of thought. Many of the thoughts provoked feelings of joy, some doubt, others provoked feelings of stress and anxiety. As the student came out of the stillness they were well aware of the emotional, as well as, the physical impact the thoughts had on them. Aware of the joy and anxiety caused by the stream of thought, which was happening in their mind, not purposeful thinking.
A meditation, try it out here or there, when it comes to your mind, or not. Focus your attention on something, then, like the student, bring your attention to the thoughts, if any, that make you feel stressful, even the slightest amount. Acknowledge to yourself how the unintentional thought that flowed through your mind brought you distress. Understand the thought provoked the stress; you did not “choose” it; you mentally moved in the direction of the thought and felt distress. Observe how the thoughts triggered the negative feelings. You are not the stream of thought, no more than you are the results of its actions.
It’s a new day.
Tolerance includes the ability to accept or allow situations, observations, opinions, beliefs, etc. and even other people that you may or may not agree with. The word also refers to an ability of the mind or body to tolerate outside influences such as negative people, disease, abuse, and even mental disorders. For example, the person practiced meditation which helped them to tolerate the results of their PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Other examples are simplistic: we tolerate bitter cold, spicy food, a bug bite, etc., even sounds we identify as annoying can be tolerable. Much of humanity is learning and applying the knowledge of acceptance and tolerance in their dealings with their fellow humans. As we awaken, as humans, we may find tolerance to be an essential key in the unification of humanity.
For some students of meditation there is little need for tolerance. The present conscious mind finds little or no conflict with others, therefore a need for tolerance is unnecessary. This does not mean they allow and accept negativity that harms creation; it means they don’t conflict with people’s beliefs, ideology, theology, etc.
The student sat with the teacher and said “I find myself in a situation. Despite my meditating and love for my fellow humans and creation, I cannot mentally or emotionally tolerate some behaviors and what goes on; mainly, peoples behaviors towards each other and our environment. I do my part when the opportunity arises, I teach the benefits of meditation and its resulting state of present consciousness. Sometimes it falls on receptive ears and brings understanding. Other times I focus on myself as the negativity in me arises, knowing the negative reaction belongs to me and there must be something to learn. Finally, I find moments when I mentally or physically remove myself, especially when the consciousness of others is out of my reach. I tolerate what I can. Remove and protect myself and well-being when necessary.”
The teacher said “Yes, many a teacher has taught us we have options in most situations. If you can tolerate the behaviors or happenings and not lose your peace, so be it. If you are compelled to bring some consciousness to the situation by speaking from presence or enhancing the moment with positive behaviors, do so. If your presence and example of behavior has no impact on the negativity, you can choose to remove yourself. Not surrender, rather remove yourself from that which you can no longer tolerate or educate. Remove yourself from situations that interfere with the quality of your life, using the situation to improve your level of understanding and conscious existence. For some, through meditation they will eventually come to a state of conscious presence where there is only understanding, peace, and love and the need for tolerance no longer exists.”
By continuing meditation practices, throughout your day, through diverse situations, presence comes to the forefront of your life and you no longer find people or things intolerable and you handle things perfectly.
A meditation, try it out here and there, when it comes to mind, or not. When a seemingly intolerable situation arises, when you remember to, focus on something and observe your current reaction, then choose. You may choose to tolerate the moment while handling its negative effects, if any. If the intolerable situation involves another person and if you are so compelled, you may choose to bring conscious thinking to the person and teach them meditation. Observe if the teaching alleviates the negativity in the moment. Finally, you may choose to remove yourself, whether it be from a situation, a person or even an intolerable sound. In many dealings with your mind you have no choice; in some situations you do. Choose or not.
It’s a new day.
Vital energy, depending on who you’re asking, may be defined in many different ways. Some theologians refer to it as the necessary force that underlies all creation. Unquestionable, untouchable, unchangeable. Many a yogi define it as essential energy that dwells deep within the human body, responsible for our physical, as well as, divine or spiritual existence.
Vitalism refers to the belief that the process or unfolding of life itself is neither physical nor chemical and cannot be defined with words. Some believe consciousness is the vital energy which exists under all that is.
The athlete or practitioner of yoga thinks of vital energy as the essential ingredient provided by our bodies for physical function as well as mental function. The student of meditation includes observations of the functions of their minds in regard to the loss of such energy, as well as its formation.
The patient spoke to the doctor proclaiming “I’m so exhausted much of the time, my mind is running non-stop pulling me into thoughts that lead me to so much negativity and distress. Worry upon worry, drama after drama. Many not real happenings, rather fantasies and ‘what if’ thoughts causing me so much suffering. The thoughts suck the life out of me, leaving me fatigued, irritable, and exhausted.” The doctor replied “So if I understand you correctly, your mind is somewhat out of control, bringing you compulsive-obsessive thoughts that have a physical, as well as, emotional impact on your body and mind. And that this stream of thought, which repeatedly pulls you into negativity, is beyond your doing and interfering with the quality of your life. The mental anguish you endure is draining your vital energy and leaving you in a state of exhaustion and even despair.” The patient said “Yes, you understand completely, as if it happens to you.” The doctor answered “Yes.” The doctor then took out his prescription pad and wrote “Meditation as often as possible until symptoms subside.”
A meditation, try it out, here and there, when it comes to mind, or not: As with most meditations, focus your attention on an object or sound, while you observe your stream of thought. When possible, or purposefully, observe how certain thoughts impact your body and mind. Be aware of judgements or when you get pulled in. Come back. Point out to yourself the physical and mental drain the thoughts are putting on you. Be aware of the energy loss. If the thoughts provoke a positive physical/mental reaction be aware of that also. Remember the plan is to observe. The part of you making the observation is you, not the thoughts.
It’s a new day.
Thought defined is the result of thinking or what thinking is itself. An idea, assumption, observation, experience, memory, etc. produced by thinking or a result of brain activity that just pops up in the mind beyond the control of the thinker. The action of thinking can be purposeful; for instance, if someone asks what is one plus one, you think, the thought comes, you answer two. We spend a lot of time with that type of thinking. The accumulation of knowledge put through the thought process has lead humanity to the majority of the advances we have achieved today, which includes those accomplishments we label positive and negative. The negative results are often caused by knowledge which has resulted from inaccurate information or negative programming or conditioning.
As students of meditation we will focus on the compulsive thinking. That which comes to our mind on its own. The thinking that comes without our conscious desire or permission.
Through meditation practices we learn or rather train ourselves to observe the stream of thought. Through observation we automatically, almost effortlessly, drop our identification with the thoughts that come to mind. You are not the stream of thought. (See Meditation at http://www.wakingupwithpatrick.com.)
To be clear many of the thoughts that come to mind do not lead to negativity. The majority of the thoughts that pop in there which lead you into mental fantasies or mental movies of the past or present or future do. The compulsive often obsessive thinking that interferes with the quality of life are what the student and the teacher choose to observe. It can become worse as we identity ourselves and others by the thoughts coming to mind. You are not these thoughts, yet you may identify yourself with what they are telling you. You are not in control of these thoughts. If you were you would stop them and find true peace.
The student of meditation learns that by observing the stream of thought without interference, judgment, condemnation, flattery, etc. everything changes. You allow the stream, stop fighting it, observe it, observe as you pile more thought on top of the thoughts. That’s when you separate from it. That’s when you effortlessly begin to realize that the part of yourself observing is you, the true self, unblemished by the workings of your mind. With practice (meditation), your conscious self comes to the forefront of your life and a truly incredible human being emerges.
Practice meditation until you don’t have to anymore. You will know when. It will be the time you spend peaceful, feeling love and joy. Presence comes to the forefront of your life and present conscious awareness becomes your normal state of being. Focus your attention on an object or sound, observe non-judgmentally the thoughts flowing through your mind. Repeat the practice, repeat it a thousand times until you are free from the confines of thought.
It’s a new day.