I hardly know where to begin in writing this post. It has been a tough weekend for me personally. I won’t get into the personal details, but I realize that out of conflict, pain, exhaustion and hurt, can come wisdom, understanding, and peace. The key is to be present to every moment and own the energy that you’re putting out into the world. This weekend has been an examination of my own ego, and there has been great pain in discovering it and the damage it has caused me (and others). But acknowledging this “darkness” is the first step on the way to real consciousness. This is what the spiritual masters talk about when they talk about enlightenment. If this sounds like mumbo jumbo psycho-babel crap, that’s fair. This is not something people talk openly a lot about. You don’t see the Kardashians gushing about their egos and unconsciousness and balance. Justin Beiber isn’t popular because he talks about a spiritual awakening! And yet, I bet even the Kardashians and Justin Bieber would have interest in what I found over the weekend, because most people will give you the same answer when you ask them what they’re looking for; and that is inner peace.
What I found over the weekend, was my ego. Dun. Dun. DUN. I have been reading spiritual books and teachings for a few years now. My mom has been an especially wise mentor for me because she has also devoted herself to the teachings of Carl Jung, Eckhart Tolle, Gary Zukav, Maya Angelou, Ken Willber, Wayne Dyer, and Caroline Myss among others. Whether she knows it or not, I’d enacted myself long ago as her protege, simply because she offered such a wealth of knowledge that always seemed to make sense and get to the root of issues quickly. To be honest, I wanted to know if I was handling a situation poorly. I wasn’t looking to be supported 100% by her or told that I’m right and whoever I’m up against is wrong. I simply want the truth, and she always seemed to have a way of finding it. So I have treasured her as a teacher. Since becoming too ill to work last year, I’ve begun reading texts on my own and attempted simply, to figure life out. Ya know, just for shits. I am so often left bewildered. Especially after painful circumstances. I am always asking What is the meaning of this? And that’s not a bad thing. Half of finding the answer is asking the question. There are many mysteries of life that I don’t think we’re meant to know all at once. But one step at a time, one breath at a time, I am beginning to unravel the truth of my self. The first step in unraveling this truth, is identifying and defining the ego. My ego. This is what I found this weekend. It’s about to get real up in here!
There are many definitions of ego in the realm that I am referring to it. But for starters, I think simplicity is best. Tolle’s definition of ego is simple: identification with form. (I am what I have.) It’s a new concept to grasp and we typically don’t learn about ego this way. I always thought ego was a good thing. I associated it with pride, with who I was. But that is the first fallacy in regards to the ego. You are not you’re ego. And even further, You are not your thoughts. You are not your emotions. You are not your mind. So, the question. If I’m not those things, what in the hell am I? Is there anything left? And yes! There is! That’s the good news. Underneath the ego, the noise of your mind, the negativity of your thoughts, the pain of your emotions (inward and outward) you are a conscious being, a lightness (some would call it the soul), that when you’ve let the ego go, will shine through and bring you joy. It is where compassion, peace, and love reside. It’s the part of you that doesn’t die. The only way to let go of the ego is through consciousness; being awake. Just like the only way out of darkness is light. Have you ever felt like you can’t control your thoughts or emotions? Have you ever blamed other people for making you feel bad? I’m ashamed to admit I have. But the good news is, you don’t have to be victim to your or anyone else’s unconsciousness. You have a choice in the matter. You are not your thoughts, you are not your feelings, and you are not what’s happened to you. You can stop telling yourself a sad story.
This weekend I did something that, come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever done before. I turned my phone off…voluntarily. There are a few reasons why, but mostly, because I was stuck in the “noise” of a situation that was going nowhere. I could feel myself getting lost in it, with the truth nowhere in sight. So I disengaged. At first I was going to turn it off for just a few hours to give myself some separation and clarity. But a few hours went by, and I had started to feel better, so I gave myself the whole night. I woke up the next morning and decided a few more hours couldn’t hurt. I sat outside in the sun with Monty and began reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Time got away from me. I was underlining whole passages and pages. Before I knew it, it was nighttime and I was 3/4 done with the book. I left my phone off for another 24 hours. It was great.
Do you ever hear a story about someone being a shithead and think to yourself “Oh shit, I’ve done that.”? Well, that’s basically how I felt for the first 100 pages of this book. It wasn’t easy realizing the things I did, but it was certainly necessary if I’m going to get better mentally and physically. Simply put, I found some major truth. I found the precise reality to a cloudy truth I had always thought anyway; that no one is responsible for my happiness or my sadness except me. My first inclination in reading that was of course, to fight it. What about people who have wronged me? What about the hurtful things people have done? Blah blah blah noise noise noise. That is the ego talking. It does this a lot. The truth is, a totally conscious person can’t be hurt. That’s not to say they can’t feel pain. If there are unfortunate circumstances like someone dying, a divorce, a miscarriage, there is going to be sadness felt there. But a conscious being also accepts what is happening in the moment, and can acknowledge that it will pass. They can’t be hurt by other peoples egos, because other peoples egos can’t survive in their presence. Not for long anyway. “Darkness can’t survive in the presence of light.” An unconscious person resists the present and this makes a difference. Consciousness is all about here and now. Past and future don’t exist. Regret about yesterday is from the ego. Anxiety about tomorrow is from the ego. Pain, depression and anxiety etc. are not natural states. Even though most people you know experience them. And that’s because most people you know are unconscious.
One of the biggest and hardest concepts to grasp is that time is manmade. We created it for practical purposes, but it has somehow become a very different institution. We carry the pain of yesterday around with us or the sad stories of our past or what we had or didn’t have growing up. Or on the opposite end, we dread tomorrow, or, we fantasize about tomorrow, imagining that’s when we’ll be happy. What all of these things have in common is that they deny the present moment. And the present moment is the only real thing there is. Can you prove tomorrow? Can you get yesterday back? No. (I’m assuming you don’t have access to the delorean) So naturally, we have to let go of our concept of time if we’re to understand this. If you’re constantly using the present as just a means of getting to the future or somewhere else, you’re missing the moment. You’re not present. I do this constantly. I hear it in others too. I can’t wait for Friday. Or I can’t wait until I have my own place. Or I can’t wait until I have money. Or now that I have money I can’t wait until I have more. See the never-endingness of it all? If you are to become awake in this moment, we’re talking this very second, you see that you have everything you could ever need, right in front of you. And if there is something we consider ‘wrong’ about this moment, we will cope with it. “You can always cope with the now. But you can never cope with the future,” he says. Or to put it another way, “There is never a time when your life is not ‘this moment.’ Is this not a fact?” Yeah but this moment sucks! That’s what I felt myself say. And that was me resisting the moment. The conscious me would accept where I am and be reassured that what I’m going through is exactly what I need to be going through to learn what I need in order to carry out my calling. Sometimes it’s about something bigger than you being at work, and that is certainly something the ego doesn’t like to hear.
My favorite passage in regards to letting go of past and future and existing solely in the here and now is a reference to animals and nature. (If you’re looking for a model of presence, dogs are a great example. They are ego-free) If you were to go into the wild and ask an eagle or lion what time it is, they would tell you “It’s right now” –because there is nothing else. Nature doesn’t operate yesterday or tomorrow. When it’s raining it gets wet. When the sun shines it soaks it up. When it’s night it sleeps. Something I have really struggled with is indecisiveness. Sometimes it takes me days or weeks to make even small decisions. Then after I’ve arrived at a decision, I think about what I didn’t choose. I wonder about other outcomes. This is, basically, insane. And I know it. So reading that passage about time and nature really resonated with me. “Stress is caused by being here and wanting to be there,” Tolle says. Sing it sister! Or..brother. His most simple advice; wherever you are, be there totally. Or as Ron Swanson puts it…
And you know who’s a great model of that? Monty. If we’re playing fetch, his world is the game of fetch. If I’m sick and in bed, he’s sleeping peacefully. He’s not demanding we play or asking why we’re not doing other things. If it’s dinner time he’s eating contentedly. Not asking why he has to eat the same shit all the time! He completely immerses himself in the now. Everything is enough. And that’s where my life work is beginning. Right. Now.
Health, Happiness, Consciousness.
12 thoughts on “Leggo My Ego”
This was an amazing post! Thank you for being awesome, Mary :)
Two Ron Swanson references in a row – how excellent! But seriously, this is a great post. I don’t comment much but I just had to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. I have chronic tension headaches as well as digestive issues which make life challenging at times but I find you have a great way of putting things in perspective for me and I’m sure many others. You are a great support and a wonderful writer.
This is absolutely your best post yet, in my opinion. You are such an amazing writer Mary, and a huge inspiration for me not only on living with health issues, but dealing with life in general from such a clear perspective. So thank you and keep it up!
Thank you for this……I like others really needed to hear this today!!! I can’t wait to read “The Power of Now” A friend suggested that I check out Jon Kabat Zinn. He talks about mindfulness meditation and stopping at least a few times a day “to just be” It sounds much like Tolle’s book. I have his CD “Full Catastrophe Living” (5 Cd’s actually) or you can buy the book by the same name. I have just purchased his CD “Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners” I have been so disappointed after other books that were recommended to me, but Kabat Zinn has really got my attention. Thanks once again Gilpy for recommending this book. I look forward to more of your blogs. It is difficult to connect with others who feel the same. I am glad to have found this blog :) All the best to you :)
This is good stuff. It is also the core of Buddhism so if you’re interested in all of this staying present, being mindful of your thoughts and actions, you might want to check out the Dhammapada.
Dogs & small children are great role models for staying in the present.
Also, staying in the present doesn’t mean being unprepared for the future. The whole concept is more about time spent “day dreaming” or “worrying” instead of being where you are right now. Spending time getting your kids ready for their day is not “not being present.” However, after you prepare for what you need to, if you are still worrying about what will happen all day while your children are playing, eating, sleeping, etc… then that is where you are not being present and could work on refocusing your mind.
There is one thing I don’t see in this post. Planning. There are some things that we HAVE to plan for, or we will be very sorry. The eagles make nests for their eggs, then they sit on their eggs to ensure they make it to the future. I am a mom, so I don’t get to only worry about the moment. You have to be prepared for sickness, for bad weather and for spills. (When I pick up my purse, I pack extra clothes for my kid, wipes and a jacket if it looks rainy)
It is also wise to look towards your future occasionally, not with worry, but with the understanding that we have to be prepared for some things. It is also wise to know future hurts might happen. I pray against tornados, we live in tornado alley, and I don’t say anything to my son, even when there are warnings, but I already have an emergency kit made up. I can’t wait until a tornado is 15 minutes away and in the “now” before I start to prepare for it.
This was such perfect time for me to read this, and such an amazing post. I was in the midst of writing a post (with admittedly far less theoretical background!) about a similar topic when WP got glitchy on me and I lost most of what I had written. I got so frustrated because I’d been just about finished and was fairly pleased with it and couldn’t fathom starting over so I came here for a break. This was the perfect break. And the perfect reminder of why I was writing what I was writing. I guess it’s time to go back and finish writing Ashki’s story now! Thanks for the break, the wisdom, for bringing me back to the moment! I’ll be sure to trackback to this post…I can’t get over the remarkable similarities in the themes!
Thank you for this amazing post, I’ve read that book and agree whole heartedly with him and you. You are a beautiful writer and I love reading your posts. In keeping with the theme of being present, I’ve also read a great book called Spirited by Rebecca Rosen, You may enjoy that one too. Blessings, Love, and Light!
dang, girl. you are yer momma’s baby! can’t wait til friday!
That is some deep stuff Gelpi. I admire the philosophy of it, but right now I’m writing a shitty paper and there sure are a lot of things I’d rather be doing than coping with the present moment. Anyway, this is interesting. If we ever get the chance, we should talk about it. I think I take a much more hard-line scientific approach to this sort of stuff, but it often helps me feel a whole lot better about things, and in its own way the inevitability and size of the universe basically forces you to accept your situation, ego or no ego. I hope you’re doing alright and feeling alright. My mom and sister had nothing but fabulous things to say about Monty and how great of a dog he is.
Let me know next time you’re back in Louisiana. It’d be good to catch up some time when I’m not balls deep in either a Patent or Louisiana Bar Review textbook. I’m going to cut this short now, I’m cracked out on adderall and could easily write the equivalent of several more pages if I’m not careful. I think I might just go talk to a wall or something. At the moment my id is running things I think. Have a good one Gelpster I miss you and Gabe and Monty and all my friends.
Thanks Charlie. We miss you too. And remember, Crack is Whack.