Do you feel weighed down by stress? Do you ever get lost in thought for long periods of time? Do you find yourself judging others, or even yourself? Do you constantly replay moments from the past or imagine hypothetical future situations in your head? Do you catch yourself repeating negative thought patterns? Do you feel trapped inside of your mind? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are suffering from a hyperactive ego!
The moment you were born, you were given a name, an identity and hence, an ego. Throughout your upbringing, your ego adopted certain beliefs. Your family’s respective cultural values were instilled into your ego by your parents. Throughout your education, you were taught how to think. Society’s materialistic ideals were ingrained in your mind through TV programming, advertisements, music, movies, etc. Obviously, there were a ton of influences in the development of your ego — is any aspect of it really yours?
Your ego manifests itself as the voice in the back of your head that never seems to stop talking. When you woke up this morning, you probably thought something along the lines of: “Ugh, alarm clock again? 5 more minutes of sleep won’t hurt anybody…” or “I need coffee immediately”, or “I wonder what the weather’s going to be like today”, etc. For most people, this stream of thought continues throughout the day, every day.
Your way of thinking shapes your reality. If upon waking you tell yourself, “Today’s going to be a great day!” and maintain a positive mindset, you will likely have an amazing day. Similarly, if at the end of the day you tell yourself: “Today was just awful!”, then, effectively, you would believe your day was awful. Unfortunately, the ego has a tendency towards negative thought patterns. If you develop a routine of negative thinking, your life could become an anxiety-ridden, living hell.
Your ego also manifests itself through the establishment of boundaries, i.e. my body, my wife, my car, my house, my possessions, etc. These physical barriers create the illusion of separateness between oneself and one’s environment. This egoistic way of thinking causes selfishness, disconnection from nature, feelings of inadequacy, lack of empathy for others, compulsive and excessive desires, anxiety, etc.
Your ego has desires, worries, fears, hopes, regrets, etc.; all of which are thoughts regarding either the future or the past, and divert focus from the present moment. Luckily, you can train your mind to silence your ego and remain present through mindful meditation.
Now is the right time to go inwards. You can observe your thoughts forming from a separate point of awareness. Each time you notice a thought forming in your head, simply observe it, let it go, and return to that point of awareness. Witness that you are not your thoughts. Witness that you are not your body. Witness that you are simply a witness. This witnessing – this awareness – is your True Self.
The entire universe has a primal energy at the core of its being. This cosmic consciousness is manifest throughout all of nature – it can be found in every flower, every animal, and every human being. When you enter into your awareness, you reconnect with this omnipresent spirit – essentially, you become one with the universe.
Just like any other skill, meditation is difficult at first and requires practice. Unlike other activities, you can meditate anytime, anywhere; all you need is your awareness. The most effective way to learn how to meditate is through reading. I personally recommend Sam Harris’ Waking Up, Ram Dass’ Journey of Awakening and Be Here Now, and Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and A New Earth.
This message is one of self-empowerment: the key to unlocking the gates of Heaven resides within YOU. I am happy to show you the door, but you’re the one who has to walk through it. Namaste, esteemed reader/Buddha-in-training – I salute the Divine Light within you.
Eddie is a freshman Computer Science major in the college of Arts and Sciences. He blogs about spirituality, philosophy, and all things consciousness-related. Editation appears on alternate Wednesdays this semester. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org