Life is a Battle of Ego and the Higher Self

Life is a Battle of Ego and the Higher Self

In this world we will continually experience battles between the ego and the “soul” or higher self parts of us, whether we realize it or not.

Personally, my first most obvious battle in this way happened when I was 21, when I reached a very crucial point in my meditation sessions (I had been meditating constantly at this age). I had been spending two hours per day, five days per week, at a Zen Buddhist center in New Mexico where I had been living. I had been doing this for months.

Later on that year, I went on a camping trip where I camped out at a music festival for a week with my mom. I was dedicated to my meditation at this point, so I really didn’t do much except meditate there. It became kind of like a meditation retreat, meditating for most of the entire days I was there.

The more I meditated, the more I began to progress into this higher awareness state. This is when everything began to change.

For one thing, my senses were greatly heightened. I remember being able to hear a cat’s footsteps as it was walking around outside, and I could hear them so insanely acutely. The cat wasn’t even that close to me.

I began to sleep in a completely different way. I didn’t like this at all, because I could never tell if I was actually sleeping or not. Some part of me always felt really awake even while asleep, and this was maddening. It was nothing like a lucid dream, in fact I’m not sure I was dreaming at all during this time. If anything I would probably say I was constantly awake, and this worried me as I truly didn’t know if I was ever getting any real sleep whatsoever.

The pressure in my forehead (which I guess would be called the “third eye” area) would become so overwhelming at times that it would practically force my eyes shut, and I would often then fall into those sleep states.

I also became hyper-aware of the concepts we understand ourselves and the world through, and how limiting those can be. They literally serve as a box that keep us from experiencing the true expansiveness of ourselves and the world.

When I talked to people, I felt myself responding with my whole self, rather than just my mind. This is difficult to explain. But usually when we are talking with someone, our mind is conjuring up in the background how we want to respond, or how we want to word it, or just feeling out the response conceptually in general. With the constant meditation I was doing, my mind was not in the way nearly as much as usual, and it was like the responses to people came from the depth of my being without my mind in the way at all. It’s almost as though I had no awareness of myself as I responded to people. I just responded. I was one with the response.

I also began to be able to see all of my mental states happening simultaneously, as though I were watching a movie where these “worlds” were being created. There was a world that my speech created, a world that my thoughts created, and a world that my actions created. Then, there was the pure awareness state outside of all of these, that I was merging with more and more.

I felt intuitively that I needed to have the world of my speech, thoughts, and actions completely in tune. It felt extraordinarily important for these to be completely in harmony, or else I would not be able to maintain higher awareness.

However, as I kept myself in this awareness state through meditation, I also began to become increasingly dissociated. Thoughts felt slower, and I began to feel very disconnected from my body. And the more that I became disconnected from my prior concept of myself, the more I felt like I was walking on air, and not the ground. I was becoming ungrounded. This went on for days. I told myself this was my new mode of being, a new experience of love and expansiveness. The problem was I realized over time that I was becoming out of balance.

I started to feel anxious, and like I was playing with fire. The anxiety spiraled with the pressure of knowing that the fear-filled thoughts I was having was keeping everything out of harmony, and I wouldn’t be able to keep higher awareness this way. But I couldn’t control it. I was beginning to experience a world where I didn’t know the rules or what anything was anymore. I also didn’t know how to consistently operate in a world where my conceptual understanding of things was falling away.

My ego felt the need to cling, to hold on to my prior understanding of myself and the world.

I got to a point where I got a very clear intuitive message that told me in order to continue, I would have to abandon everything I “knew to be real.” I literally had to abandon my understanding of my self, and any conceptual frameworks I had developed of things. Because ultimately, these concepts were limiting me.

The fear that I was feeling took over. It won. It had felt too much to me like I was traveling into no-man’s land, where I was out of control, and the fear of the unknown progressed into full blown panic attacks. For a year or two. I thought I was going insane at this point, because I felt like I had gone too far into this strange land to even come back the same person (I wish I had known at the time that this was just the fear talking).

A counselor I saw later on that was knowledgeable in spiritual things, told me that because I was so young and my ego had not developed yet, if I had “jumped off the deep end” into the unknown, it may have resulted in massive confusion and psychosis. She said very matter-of-factly, “ironically, you have to have a very stable ego in order to be ready to explore the realms of the soul.”

To this day, I still don’t know if that’s true. It is very clear to me now that the intense fear I was feeling came from the loosening of my entire framework of reality. Honestly most people would be scared shitless if, for example, they were to be thrown into the massiveness of space suddenly, feeling as though they were at the mercy of whatever. I did not know how to trust that process. How to trust that if what I understood as my self died, that I wouldn’t really die. Just my sense of self would.

In the moment, our ego can’t differentiate. We don’t realize how tightly we hold on to our sense of selves, because it is what we use here on Earth to operate as a self. It’s all we really know, unless of course we have a taste of our higher selves, and of higher consciousness states.

It was a very scary battle between who I thought I was and everything that encompasses, and my real, higher self. But, this battle was happening at a very rapid pace. At one moment I was embracing my new experience of life, a higher sense of love and oneness, and a temporary new way of operating. Then the next moment I was cowering in fear, extraordinarily scared I was losing control, and losing myself.

My ego won. I stopped. But that’s okay. Because I felt I did indeed delve too quickly and deeply into this new world, and I needed to take a step back. I think the whole process of loosening ourselves from our clinging to our concept of ourselves and the external world is something that needs to happen slowly, over many, many years of time.

It has also taken me years since that experience to even understand that my inherent desire to reach new heights of awareness was due to having a natural awareness to some degree of the higher self, and longing to return to the richer experiences of life that are available through these higher awareness states.

It’s a part of my self that is consistently wanting to bring my “lower” or ego-self up to the higher self’s level.

Having any awareness and experience of this higher self makes it more difficult to live in the contrast of the “lower” self. Therefore, it creates a sense of longing to return to the higher self’s reality. The reality that is far, far more expansive than the limited reality we typically experience here.

Another very important thing that hit me just recently is how real these higher experiences of love, of existence, of understanding, actually are.

The most unimaginable joy, pure love, and living with a higher level of awareness is very. fucking. real. These are not just dreams, a desire for an escape (though it can serve as that), or a plight of the imagination. It is totally achievable. But here on Earth, it’s very difficult. We have to be in such a place of mental freedom and openness before we can ever experience these things without our clinging to our conceptual understanding of things, as well as other mental obstacles bringing us down.

I also realized intuitively after this particular meditation experience that the different part of my selves were out of harmony. I was trying to experience a reality that I didn’t have the tools to integrate. Kind of like when you go on an acid or shrooms trip (which I haven’t done before), you gain great insights, but then you come back down and ultimately it fades into a memory, with very little or no integration into your daily life.

I had slightly more integration with this consistent meditation I was doing, but I also realized quickly afterwards that it was going to be a long road of developing my own tools and everyday awareness before I could hold and process the intensity of the reality I was experiencing during those temporary states.

Nowadays, as I go through this life, I get to experience that higher sense of joy and love much more consistently than I did before. The more I learn and grow, and the more aware I become, the more my mind expands and naturally allows for this reality to be experienced more regularly.

But all of this is where the battle of the ego lies. You might be lucky enough to be faced with the most unimaginable, otherworldly beauty you have ever seen on this Earth, whether it comes in the form of a higher consciousness state or a pure love, and you may experience it for a moment. But then if you have not worked on overcoming your mental obstacles, this beauty will simultaneously arouse all of your fears and any blockages you have that keep you from realizing higher awareness.

It can be scary. And if you don’t surrender, your ego will win, and you will shrink back down into your normal understanding of things, and you may even pretend what you saw wasn’t real. Or maybe you were just going crazy. You might even feel intense fear, anxiety, and anger, depending on the situation. It will all be your ego kicking and screaming, trying to hold on to what it thinks is real.

Believe me, I’ve been there.

But it’s all okay. It’s all part of the learning process. It takes many years, a lifetime, for us to surrender who we think we are and not allow the ego to have such a hold on ourselves. Some of us may never experience higher awareness states at all, until death. That’s okay too — we are all on our own personal journeys, and we experience the things we need to to help our own growth, at our own pace.

“In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond; And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king? Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”
—Kahlil Gibran

Look For the Lessons in Every Experience

Look For the Lessons in Every Experience

Everything in life gives us an opportunity to learn something new. Every new experience, both the positive and the negative, tests us in some way or allows us to learn more about ourselves. We just have to look, and listen.

One thing I’ve noticed is that not always do my mental habits or reactions change, but my awareness of them does. Just having awareness of what’s going on and an idea of how it will play out gives me more peace of mind and allows me to understand the true nature of what’s happening, without necessarily trying to control it. And that’s the main goal. We don’t have to judge ourselves about what’s happening in our minds and getting frustrated if it doesn’t go one way or another. Just accepting it first and letting it play out makes us less involved in it to begin with.

And that’s another thing, control: we are not as in control as we think we are, so much of awareness is surrendering to thinking we can/should control an outcome and letting things unfold as they will.

“You can’t teach a flower how to grow, you can only learn from it.”
— Akiane Kramarik

What I Would Tell My 17 year-old Self if I could

What I Would Tell My 17 year-old Self if I could

I’ve often looked back at my past and thought about what I could do differently if I knew then what I know now, and have actually lived out what consequences our actions had. I think most of us do, and I’ll probably continue to do that forever.

Earlier today I was thinking about what I could tell my 17 year-old self (I’m now 32), or at least my self near that age, and I realized that part of the purpose of being at any point in our lives is to live out the journey of that moment, from the good parts to the mistakes and everything in between.

The 16-17-18 ages are hard, because we’re right smack in the middle of a transition period from being a child to developing into an independent adult. There are really a lot of struggles during this time that we may not even see as struggles, until we’re in our 30s like me and see the difference between then and now.

That being said, we are all here on Earth to live our own lessons and nothing can change that. But there are still some straight up practical things I wish I would have done differently. Every person’s journey is different, and so these things are very personal to me. But, I figured some people still may be able to relate.

  1. It’s funny that this is #1, but…brush and floss your damn teeth. Every day.
    I’m really passionate about this one. BECAUSE if I had not been so lazy with my flossing and brushing, I could have maybe avoided THOUSANDS of dollars and multiple instances of the most excruciating pain of my life. Though this advice is for any age, of course, because eventually it will catch up to you if you don’t take care of it.
  2. DO NOT take antibiotics or strong drugs for your acne (unless you have cystic acne). Avoid drugs period, unless necessary.
    I know it really sucks to have bad skin when you’re a teenager. I did, and I took Minocycline for a long time (at least it wasn’t Accutane). However, antibiotics or drugs like Accutane are very harsh on your body in ways we don’t understand at the time – or understand in general. But at that age we are more resilient and/or don’t really care. The trade-off for the effect these drugs can have on your body for clear skin is just not worth it unless absolutely necessary. Especially knowing now what I know about skin care, I know plenty of other things I would try first (good essential oils for one) before resorting to drugs. The difference is, back then I didn’t really care about my body. Now, I do, because when you’re older you cannot get away with the kind of abuse you give it when you’re younger. And just because you might get away with it doesn’t mean you should. I’ve taken antibiotics that screwed my digestive system up (which can cause a whole host of other problems), and there’s a lot we still don’t really understand regarding the effects of certain drugs and certainly about the gut.
  3. I’d show myself much more love and compassion.
    Every phase of our lives has its own challenges, but trying to figure out life as a teenager (and with all those hormones involved) really isn’t easy. God, high school isn’t easy. For me it was pretty bad. And there’s so much competition, negativity, and petty crap you have to deal with. If you are of high school age and are reading this, take some time to appreciate yourself and all you are going through, because it is significant and we place so much unnecessary pressure and expectations on ourselves during this phase of our lives.
  4. I’d tell myself that my life doesn’t have to be figured out. And I don’t have to do what other people are doing.
    You don’t have to go to college right away. The world does not have to be lived out the way you see everyone else living it. You don’t have to value what they value. You don’t have to figure out what you want to study. You don’t have to see a certain age as a marker for some sort of milestone you’re supposed to be achieving. Live your own world, even when the outside world might not take you seriously. Trust yourself. Which leads me to the next one…
  5. Listening to adults’ advice is good, but we also have to learn to listen to and trust ourselves
    As a teenager, there is an emphasis that we are not wise and don’t know what’s best for ourselves. There certainly can be an element of truth to that, but it also teaches us not to listen to our own inner voice. At age 17 I was always getting advice from adults, or random comments about what I should or shouldn’t be doing. And many times I wasn’t taken seriously in general because of my age. There ARE some teenagers that have no good judgment at all and are always getting themselves in trouble (let’s be real, this isn’t restricted to young people). But for the average person, myself included  not trusting myself was detrimental. I actually didn’t see it at the time, but back then I didn’t value my own opinion that much because at that age there is such heavy influences from others around us, from our parents, from the schooling system, etc., that we are supposed to be following a specific path. There was also a heavy emphasis on needing to stay in school, to get good grades, to be able to go to a good college, and to make good money. While this is a straightforward way to go, it’s not the only way. Life does not have to consist of a linear path defined by someone or something else.You know what will get you a good job? Following your heart. Learning what makes you excited. Going after what you’re naturally curious about. Thinking about what you want to offer the world and what you want to become good at, and doing that, period. Then you will develop the necessary skills in whatever that is, and be able to make money.

    Yes it can be more straightforward to finish high school the way most people do and get the diploma out of the way because you will need to make money later on and a diploma is a minimum requirement for most jobs. But do you HAVE to do it that way? No. Sorry, but you don’t. Especially when high school is producing a toxic environment for you and not actually helping you grow (might be likely if it’s public school). Especially when you already know what you love and want to do and have other means of learning it, and can maybe get your GED later. Especially when you aren’t just dropping out of high school so you can sit around and smoke weed all day, but because you actually want to do something more fulfilling with your life, or something that will have more of a positive impact in some way.

    When applying for jobs, most don’t pay a crazy amount of attention on your high school experience. They look at your current job experience and skills. Not everyone does well sitting in a class 6-8 hours a day and listening to people talk. Some people learn differently. I know a couple of people who dropped out of high school and taught themselves programming and now are doing fantastically well.

    That being said, I’m not encouraging dropping out of high school. It’s just that people assume that if you don’t follow the path that is laid out for you, that you’re a loser. Or that you won’t succeed in life. And it is just not true. Thinking that way is detrimental. There’s so much fear behind that, especially for parents, so I get it. But this is the thing: most people want to stay alive and live the best life they can. That notion does not have to be taught. And you do not have to simply follow what everyone else is doing to achieve that. You don’t have to be older to realize that you can be more creative and follow what you feel inside. You just have more obstacles in trying to do this when you’re younger.

    Most parents or other adults are often naggy because they are worried and because they care  they don’t want you to make the same mistakes they did (even though they might not directly say this). The world is a dangerous place, especially for teenagers, because they are often at the age where they want to experience new things but are reckless at the same time since they have not yet lived long enough to actually experience the consequences of certain actions, and older adults have. Older adults have made mistakes, too, and would prefer not to see you walk their same path because they might have some regrets. As humans, we are exceptionally flawed.

  6. That whole love story you got goin’ on…take it seriously, but if it doesn’t work out, try to remember that everything happen for a good reason and things work out for the best in the end.
    I fell deeply in love with someone when I was 14. NOBODY took that seriously either. Guess what. I am 32 and no I am not with them, but I still love and appreciate this person. Now, I’m probably not the best example because the depth of the feelings I had for this person was probably unusual for my age. Most younger relationships don’t last long and do have less depth. But in my case, the time this person and I started to drift apart was THE worst heartbreak I have ever experienced to date. It took me several years to fully get over it.
    It also took me years to understand that things happen for a reason. The reason why younger relationships often don’t last is not always because they are just “puppy love” and insignificant, but because as we get older, our values change. What we look for in a person is continually being refined. Simple things like how we live our lives and how we perceive ourselves end up being a really significant factor in the kinds of partners that end up being compatible with us. As we age, we go through different “versions” of ourselves as we learn to discover who we really are. Once we’re older, our identities have been further established and this makes it much easier to find a partner that truly fits with this current version of ourselves. When we’re younger, there’s still so much up in the air that can change, so the person we are compatible with then may not be ten years later, despite how strong our feelings are.

If I could sum up all of this nicely, I would say it’s really about believing in yourself and your potential more and treat your body better because it will pay off. Learn to realize there is an important balance that ideally needs to happen at this age. The balance between having guidance from the older and wiser, and from the necessity of listening to ourselves and learning from our own mistakes.

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