But it’s not always that easy, is it?
“the trick is to remove ego as dictator, and turn it into messenger and servant and scout, to be in your service” ~ Joseph Campbell
Ego is a part of who we are. It is our conscious mind. Letting go of the grip on our own experience, judgments, fears, doubts and regrets doesn’t mean letting go of our ego altogether. That would mean letting go of our conscious awareness of who we are altogether!
The mind is never blank. If it were, how would you know?
~ Ed Foreman.
Letting go of our judgments, fears, doubts and regrets doesn’t happen overnight. It is a daily, sometimes hourly conscious action, a resolve, a decision to not buy into those thoughts that tell us we are less than or better than.
Here’s where daily meditation comes in. There are so many ways to meditate. The way I find most helpful is to just sit with it. That’s right. Sit down, and shut up.
“Don’t just do something. Sit there.” ~Ancient Chinese proverb
Meditation has been practiced for almost as long as humans have been on the planet. Meditation is used often for stress reduction, relaxation and mindfulness. But the problem with this outlook is that meditation often can initially produce the opposite results. Why? Because meditation is not easy. It shows us just what we are so diligently trying to push away.
And that’s why it is so useful – because avoidance and denial is what causes the suffering in the first place. This avoidance can harden our hearts and create small, judgmental thinking patterns that can eventually be harmful to others as well.
Many people find it difficult to just sit quietly for 15 minutes. The ego mind starts thinking right away – there’s too much to do, there’s not enough time, this is stupid, etc.
When we sit and get quiet often enough, we start hearing our ego more clearly. Sitting for even just 5 minutes a day can open us up to more awareness of the ego – and of how little control we really have of our “monkey minds.”
Diving in can often feel uncomfortable at first.
So why meditate?
In a nutshell, meditation allows us to relax and see how our thinking can get in our own way. From there, a natural falling away of this “noisy thinking” occurs, an opening, an experience of space and calmness and a release of the constrictions of the mind.
Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom. – Buddha
Stay tuned for the final part of this series where we discuss how to really get a handle on that “monkey mind” and kick things into high gear.
Part 4: How Meditation Really Works