Can ego be reduced and made less fearful by meditation? Is it possible to get to a point of awareness that you can consciously decide: ‘No, I am not going to slip into a low state because of [the situation I can’t change]’.
It seems a costless way to deal with the things we have to live with – like demanding family members or having to work hard for many years to pay off a debt.
It’s those aspects of life that can’t be rid of yet the ego will often make you feel a victim of circumstance, burdened, and trapped.
When this state of mind becomes an energy drain, an alert person realises:
‘I can’t change my family, I can’t vanish my debt overnight. But I don’t want to be in a low state over it and forget to enjoy the best years of my life’.
Reducing the ego is achievable, so let’s take a closer look. Ego fills the natural silence in the mind with its constant chatter and replays. It’s often negative and of a type that complains and judges a lot. While ego slavishly has to feed itself, the soul can simply ‘be’.
The opposite of the ego state is to be fully present in the moment. This is the basis of meditation. To get in touch with your soul is as direct as being in the moment and avoid getting lost in an ego day-dream.
As soon as you are aware you are in an ego day-dream you can consciously pull out of it. The key is to develop that type of awareness and that’s where meditation is a useful spiritual tool.
The difficulty of mental chatter discourages many from meditating or continuing with it. There is a tendency to see this difficulty as a personal inability. It is really a choice – and it’s the exercise of that choice that needs developing.
If you start with a desire to reach a meditative state and have the will to gently persist despite the ego, you already have the formula for success.
The next step is to let go your concerns of the day and surrender to the silence for the time you’ve put aside to meditate. Know that you are not wasting time but are tuning yourself (like an instrument) to operate at a higher state of being for the rest of the day (or tomorrow if you meditate at night).
The act of slowing yourself down in meditation for a set time, consciously not letting your thoughts take charge, and being aware, will reduce ego. You will be able to make it a new habit to observe your thoughts instead of indiscriminately getting caught up in them and giving them all your attention. You can then far more easily let go a thought – at will.
Tips for effective Ego Meditation
It starts with taming your expectations about how well you will meditate and keep ego at bay:
• Don’t be impatient if your mind is like a parade of wagons going by with no end in sight. Any judgment or resistance will stimulate the ego and bring it back to the front row of your mind.
• Try to think of nothing for a few seconds and you will notice you feel much more alive in those moments.
• Don’t be intimidated by slight emotions that may be felt in the following parts of your body:
* heart (ache),
* solar plexus (dread)
* throat (tightness).
If something like these feelings bubble up, it usually means a willingness to let go of old unresolved emotions and can come with flashes of insight. If they bother you, ask yourself ‘Who am I?’ You might go still as you really consider the question. Don’t worry if you don’t perceive an answer on the spot. Just doing this has a tendency to centre yourself.
When you start to meditate, there may be tension in the body at first, hunched shoulders (sit with a straight posture), or a tightness across the forehead.
The stubborn ego voices will butt in as you ease into a meditative state. The ego voice that seems to interject all the time is the Antsy voice:
‘I keep thinking about this and that…what I got to do next. My mind keeps running a to-do list past me. It’s hard to stop!’
Don’t resist, just okay it and release, and repeat…continuously. Don’t give a thought to how often you keep doing this. Over time, your mind will get quieter.
Don’t let ego discourage you from meditating. Realise that we are in an ego state most of the time. Remember your soul identity and revive your will to get to know it. Just imagine how much you stand to gain by getting familiar with your true self.
Meditation to Remove Ego
1. Sit upright in a relaxed but straight posture.
2. Take a deep breath in and then exhale through the mouth.
3. Place the tips of your index and second fingers between your eye-brows.
4. Close your eyes and then drop your hand.
3. Ask yourself ‘Is anything bothering me?’ and wait a few seconds.
4. If you get a feeling or thought, feel or listen to it for a moment or two.
5. Say ‘thank you’ and let it go in your mind.
6. Take a deep breath in and out through the mouth.
Repeat the above steps if you want to encourage more feeling-thoughts to come to the surface.
Even if you get a niggling feeling while meditating, it’s ego trying to get you to think. Relax your mind and let it wander without taking the lead with your thoughts. Instead, be the spectator of your thoughts. You can use your imagination to help you. Imagine you are standing in front of a ceiling to floor aquarium tank and you are observing all the different sea creatures gliding past and darting around. These are your thoughts.
If you drift off into that hypnagogic state between awake and asleep, bring your attention back to your breathing.
Listen to your breath
1. Sit strait with hands in your lap.
2. Take a deep breath till you fill the bottom of your lungs.
3. Breath out through the mouth.
4. Now breathe normally and listen to each breath. Feel the rise and fall of your chest.
The reward you gain over time (how long it takes depends on the person) is the ability to exercise the choice to switch yourself like a circuit from thinking actively to just ‘being’. The ego will get bored if you keep nodding your head to it without reacting to its every single prod, and will become less insistent.
Benefits of Ego Meditation
The regular practice of meditation will free up more real estate in your mind. Don’t forget the mind is elastic like play-do. We make mental grooves all the time with habitual and repetitive thoughts and ways of thinking. Being conscious of ego in meditation gives you the chance to form new mental grooves – ones that are more dynamic in nature and not rutted in blinkered repetition.
There is evidence that meditation improves brain function and increases grey matter that is responsible for memory, reflexes, self-awareness, balance and objectivity. There is a corresponding decrease in the parts of the brain associated with stress and anxiety. So you can train your mind much like you train the body to be fit.
The time you spend in meditation draws you away from the ego templates and shifts your mind to rest with the third eye (inner mind’s eye). After devoting some time to meditating you will notice you are smoother with everything you do.
Over time, it softens the rough edges of the mind, lubricates it, and if you do have a hard day your ego won’t drive you to distraction and swamp the body with chemicals that cause stress related illnesses.
Our busy Western culture tends to regard prolonged silence as something to be broken – like a bull let loose in a china shop. Yet the desire to make room for meditation in daily life to counter-balance a hyper-active life-style is ever present, and is considered quality time well spent.
Remember, it’s not about how well you meditate but how sincere you are with the effort each time you do it. Using your will seems to open doors, not will-power as such, but more like being fully convinced with intent. That’s the key, if you don’t feel like meditating and don’t have the will for it, don’t do it. It will only feel like work. Best results always flow from sincere intention – and takes much less effort.