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

7 Things You Can Do to Feel Alive Again

7 Things You Can Do to Feel Alive Again

I have found that many of the systems and paths that we have carved out for us in life, or that we follow, can improve our skills but may sometimes dull our creativity or even cover up things in life that we feel truly passionate about.

We may learn that following a path and acquiring achievements and recognition from doing so is the kind of happiness that we think we need. We forget what it feels like to be truly ignited by something, or we sacrifice pursuing that as we consider it less important.

However, I don’t think there’s anything more important.

Sure, we have to make a living and that requires us to make sacrifices sometimes. But, we still are in charge of getting our priorities straight and creating a life for ourselves that may be the “road less traveled by” but allows us to be our best selves and give to the world and ourselves all of our potential.

And, this kind of awareness helps us to truly appreciate life and what we are here for. It brings us out of the mud and makes us feel alive again.

Adulthood doesn’t have to be dull, systematic, and dominated only by to-dos.

There should be an undertone of joy, even amidst all the ups and downs.

Learning How to Appreciate

In thinking about what “becoming alive again” REALLY means, I realized it boils down to one primary attribute: appreciation. You have to learn to appreciate what’s in front of you. Being grateful is talked about a lot these days. However, it’s not just a matter of turning on your “grateful” switch. It’s often not simply just an intellectual process.

It’s very much an awareness that unfolds with really seeing and understanding what comes together in our lives to make us healthy and happy. In other words, it might take some work.

For example, once I tuned in enough to my body to see how good it feels when I eat food with wholesome ingredients (not processed, no added sugar), that represented a very real kind of awareness that made me appreciate healthy food that is doing good for my body.

At the bottom of all of this is us. We have to learn to get in tune with our selves and the rest will follow.

Here are seven things I thought of that can help uncover that feeling of becoming alive again (note, most of these need to be done regularly and require effort and patience. But if done, they will make a huge difference in your life.):

  1. Appreciate your food. Take a moment to think about where your food came from, be thankful that you have it, and chew slowly. Try to observe, and enjoy the process of eating. This took me a long time to do. But I noticed that I started naturally doing it in my times of highest awareness and clarity – like after spending time in nature.
  2. Observe the cause and effect of all situations in your life. Take a look at what happened to lead you where you are today. If you are happy in your current situation in all regards, that’s great. If not, observe the circumstances that took place to lead you where you are today, and where you might be able to make changes to an entirely different path that will lead you to entirely different place.
  3. Watch your mind. This one is the biggest one and I could write a book about it (and many have). But, your mind is the tool with which you create your perceptions and shape your life. Do not hold on to negative thoughts. We all get them, but practice letting them go. Observe and see how your perspectives might be telling you what you can or can’t do, or how life should or should not be. You don’t have to do anything here, but learn to watch.
  4. Experience more. Try new things. Things that might connect you with others, or show you something about yourself. It could be as small as trying a new food you were hesitant to try. Dare to go outside your comfort zone. You’re not getting anything from being in it.
  5. Start paying attention to gut reactions. Learn to say no. I always considered myself a pretty in-tune person, but I realized that just by habit I was often dismissing my own feelings on things. It can actually be a difficult process to differentiate between “this feels like something I should do, not that I’m excited to do,” if we’re always used to putting away our own feelings.
  6. Evaluate your life goals. What kind of goals are you setting, and why? What are you looking to achieve, and why? Is it something that you feel will make you more fulfilled on a deep level, or is it something that you think you should be doing to get ahead? I remember thinking years ago that I just wanted to hit a $50k income goal and that that’s all the money I would need in life ever. Now that I’ve hit that income goal and grown a little wiser, I’ve realized it is so not about the money. We all need it and more is better, but I realized that thinking in terms of money was getting in the way of me focusing on creating a life that fulfilled me, regardless of the income. It is kind of a trick; you have to reverse engineer this thinking. You have to go after what you enjoy doing the most and focus on your talents, and not worry about if it will make you enough money or not. Things will then fall into place.
  7. Set aside time for things in your life on a regular basis. Before bed, I made a sort of routine to light candles, turn off all electronics, read a book and drink tea. This has given me a happiness I didn’t have before. It allows my body to relax and contemplate the day. I’ve realized that constantly being distracted by electronics can create a stress response and not allow us to truly relax, even though you may not realize it at first.
What is True Clarity?

What is True Clarity?

MountainsHiking up Piestewa Peak in Arizona

This weekend I went on a hike up Piestewa Peak (also known as Squaw Peak) in Phoenix, AZ. This one’s a favorite of mine because it’s short and I like to challenge myself to better and better completion times each trip. Then, when I get to the top, there are plenty of rocks to climb around and hide near. It’s a very popular hike, but I can always find a spot where there are not many people. For me, these hikes are not a place to socialize, but rather a place to be in silence (ideally). I’ll hide out there for a couple of hours and just meditate and sort things out in my mind.

What I noticed is after I do this, is it takes me to another place mentally. Not only am I so much clearer in my mind, but it’s almost like my spirit is on its way out of my body (I realize that might sound like a stretch to some, but as a somewhat experienced meditator, this feeling would happen all the time).

The Brain During Meditation

I’ve always been interested in what exactly happens to the brain during meditation — how when I don’t give much power to my thoughts, I become more in touch with some other part of me and after my meditation session I feel so much less in touch with my physical self.

The thing is, I’ve always known that there was more to me than what I know as my mind, thoughts, and my physical self. I’ve always felt somewhat detached from it even without being in a meditative state. But meditating in nature really makes all of this happen faster than if I were just doing it at home.

Journey Down the Mountain

During this particular time at the peak of the mountain, I meditated, then after two hours as usual started my journey back down. As I was coming down I passed many other hikers. Only it was different this time on the way down than on the way up. I again didn’t feel like I was so much physically present anymore, and every time I walked by a person I could feel their energy so much clearer, and almost feel what they were thinking.

From this perspective it made me feel more like I was on the outside looking in — rather than how I normally feel on a day-to-day basis. The reason for this is, normally my mind is whirling about with thoughts and I am interpreting the world around me at every glance, and I am usually caught up in my thoughts just like everyone else. But once I meditate for a while and then come across others and feel their mind states, I am coming from a place of heightened clarity and as a result, everyone else’s feels so much more self-contained when they are caught up in their thoughts. From a figurative “aerial view,” you could picture a bunch of people just wandering around not really SEEING clearly but completely overtaken by the buzz of their thoughts. We are distracted by our thoughts constantly and it causes us to miss true clarity, with some of us not even realizing a higher clarity exists.

Insight from Being on the Mountain — Some Reminders

All of this was also a great reminder that it is all too common that we get lost in manifestations versus the substance of things. And when I say manifestations, I don’t mean in something as obvious as getting caught in materialistic items versus something below the surface — but more just a subtle habit your mind creates by focusing too much on how things appear and how they’re relevant to society on some level rather than purely how they feel to you.

We may know ourselves as not materialistic, humble people, but not realize how many external factors are influencing decisions that should be made from the heart. When we have a fork in the road in terms of our life paths, it’s easy to feel torn between which way to take when so much of our lives a multitude of different components and people. Especially with modern-day lifestyles, where so much of our lives have become dependent on other things— our employers, money, family situations, and so on. A large part of the challenge we have in life is an art of finding a balance between sacrifice and following what is in our hearts.

For most of us the world is an information overload, and unless we have a strong connection to the higher part of ourselves, or to nature or whatever it may be, it is very difficult to be guided through all of the mental noise that may be obscuring the path to insight and higher understanding. If we don’t have this, much of our life manifests only through our mental noise without the help of true clarity.

p.s. — I have a new personal goal to make this hike a much more regular (maybe every weekend) thing. 🙂


The Mindstate of Abundance vs. The Mindstate of Lack

The Mindstate of Abundance vs. The Mindstate of Lack

Meditation Can Allow You to Conquer So Many of Your Issues

I can’t believe how many issues I’ve solved in my life just by learning how to sit and be mentally still. Meditation has taken me on so many journeys, but even just periodic quiet contemplation has resolved what felt like a subtle, nonspecific recurring fear of the future, and a feeling of being out of control, to a complete resolution.

The latest thing that meditation has accomplished for me is in realizing that the concept of abundance really does stem first from the mind. It helped me realize how many times I’d have somewhat negative thoughts when I’d see other people who were able to do things that I wasn’t — i.e., people who didn’t seem to have my same financial problems and could easily go back to school, for example, and not have to worry about working during it or going into debt; or people who had freed themselves from working corporate jobs and have managed to find a way to live just doing what they want and creating all day, and somehow making it work. People who could travel to different countries at the drop of a hat and not have to worry about the expense; the list goes on.

There are so many things I want to do with my life, and as hard as I feel like I’m swimming towards it, it feels just like I’m swimming against a strong tide. It’s a time where I’m tied down by student loan debt, by trying to get business ideas off the ground and/or more freelance clients, and by somewhat a lack of patience, because every time I see someone doing with their life exactly what I want to be doing, right now, it makes me feel like I need to have it right now before any more time is wasted. Before I get any older. It’s a consistent feeling of racing time, and I simultaneously feel like I shouldn’t have to feel that way but am also stuck in it.

Coming From a Perspective of Lacking Something

While all of this is still true and my soul yearns to live according to my own rules and schedule, what changed is that I finally realized is how much my perspective was always coming from a place of feeling like I lacked something. I honestly didn’t see this before, until after beginning to shift my perspective and seeing the difference. I would look at others’ situations that had something I wanted, and it made the feeling of lack stronger within me. Most of the time I used this feeling of lack as fuel for my fire to stay motivated, and at times it even swayed my decision as far as what I should do with my life. But after long enough, I found this still wasn’t really solving the issue. While there are many ways my life could be improved and I’m always working towards that, that doesn’t actually mean anything is wrong with my life now — in fact, my life is quite good and one that many people might themselves love to have.

I have an amazing relationship, a job with a good working environment, no office politics and great coworkers, I make a decent amount of money (even if so much of it goes to my debt), my life is relatively low stress, I have amazing friends and a strong relationship with my best friend; the list goes on.

So why did it make sense for me to constantly be comparing myself to others’ lifestyles, or ever feeling any lack in mine? While I can see how it happened — I do have a very strong desire for certain things to change — all this time that ended up being spent in strengthening my perspective of lack in my life was not getting me anywhere at all.

Giving Up My Attachment to Money

I began to truly realize, and I’m not sure what triggered it, that I really don’t need a lot of money. I just need to be free of this debt. I don’t need to keep trying to increase my yearly salary necessarily (although it’d be nice), I want to be able to live with hardly any bills at all. I want to have just enough to be able to save and travel often. I really don’t have any interest in buying a house, a new car, or any other super expensive material items.

Realizing this ended up shifting my attitude about money, because I previously found myself so tied to the idea that in order to be truly free, I needed to have money. It just happened naturally after so many struggles with money…seeing how lifestyles and amounts of stress in people vastly differed just because of it. How many people suffer because of it. And, I could help others if I had more money, I could travel, I could save more quickly for retirement, I could pay off my student loans and credit card debt, and so on.

When I truly was able to approach money from the perspective that I didn’t actually NEED to make more money than I am now to be free and do the things I want, it freed up another part of me that again, felt lack in my life in this way.

I realized no matter how broke I may become, it didn’t matter as much to me as being in control of my schedule every day and putting myself in a life situation that allowed my creativity to unfold and blossom even further, that would then allow me to create work that was more meaningful and more “me”. To be able to sleep in an extra hour if I needed it, even if it meant working later. To be able to go on a walk in the middle of the day. Living a rigid schedule that was almost entirely dictated by someone else has always really bothered me.

Releasing Negativity

Once my attitude toward money shifted, it felt like a weight off my shoulders. I knew that I needed to do things in life to free me in the ways I wanted to be freed, but I also knew the idea of needing to do something that will make money was constantly getting in the way.

I’d repeat to myself the phrases I heard people repeatedly say, “just think about exactly how I’d live my life and what I’d do if money weren’t an issue,” and “do what you love and the money will come naturally.” This was a good exercise, but I still wasn’t able to separate myself from my attachment to the idea of needing to make more money. In other words, intellectually knowing and repeating these concepts did not solve the issue.

But, once my thoughts began to shift from realizing I really did have enough as it is, I just need to make some lifestyle changes that will align better with my soul and get rid of this debt. But I have enough as it is, and I truly feel a contentment that has come from this realization. I can say with confidence now that I know what I truly want and I don’t feel the issue of money pressing on me anymore. And I feel confident that when I can fully align my lifestyle with how I feel it should be, nothing but more abundance, creativity, and happiness will come from it.

Energy In, Energy Out

You get the same energy out of the universe that you put into it. Just becoming aware of my negative thought patterns and feeling of lack made me realize what it was doing to me. Meditation and self-reflection also immensely helped. The guided meditations that Deepak Chopra offers speak exactly on this subject and they also helped me to realize where true abundance really comes from.

I now feel abundance in small things, like arranging beautiful healthy meals like a fruit platter of all various types of fruits and being able to fully enjoy it and appreciate that I’m able to feed myself well and make the same things for others. Of having a few amazing and loving relationships in my life and creating memories with them. Not that I didn’t appreciate these things before, but now I feel much more complete.

As mentioned in the beginning of this post, I’ve discovered for myself now that true abundance really does come first from the mind, and it will manifest outwardly eventually. It can be very difficult to feel free in the midst of not ideal external circumstances, for sure, but when you are free of negative thought patterns and look hopefully and positively toward the present and the future, nothing but good can come from it.


Manifesting Massiveness Within You

Manifesting Massiveness Within You

Just some thoughts for today…I was driving home from the office tonight and it was beginning to get dark. I pulled in the driveway of my house and sat in my car as I often do, just looking at the stars and the evening sky. It was so beautiful, and it shows us just by being itself how massive, intricate, and wondrous our world is; it shows us how minute and fleeting what us humans on earth do, what we fill our lives with. More and more as I allow myself time for contemplation or even just stopping to look around at the earth’s natural beauty, the more I see the potential in our own minds to take us outside of the trivialities that it is often times consumed with. Our own minds, when completely open and less dominated by ego, can mirror the universe’s massiveness.

But it does often require meditation in order for us to channel our efforts into something other than our own thoughts/perceptions/interpretations. The more that I’ve allowed myself to take in my surroundings and contemplate the earth and universe, the more I learn about myself and the deeper I prod into my own potential.

I’ve also realized that emotions can be the key to exploring your own intuition and perceptions and gaining insight into them. It’s necessary to allow them to exist fully and let them play their course. Listen to them, think about why they may be existing in that moment. I didn’t consciously realize their importance in this way until recently; and part of this is due to being able to experience the difference from having muted emotions on anti-depressants to having them back in full force. It’s too bad that so many people have negative experiences or ideas attached to embracing or especially showing their emotion.

Most of us have incredibly busy lives full of ambition and activity, and as a result our minds are always busy with the activity of our daily lives. Setting some time aside each day to contemplate our surroundings and our life can begin changing things drastically, just by allowing yourself to come to terms with what’s going on in your life and also putting some time into thinking about these things against the backdrop of the massiveness of our universe.

It may take some people a long time to allow the power that their thoughts hold over them to slowly lose grip, and they may not feel anything at first when meditating except for maybe some relaxation. But those who can look up at the sky or wilderness and see the beauty and mystery around us and how small we are in comparison, can start embracing and manifesting more of a massiveness within themselves. I can promise you that therein lies another world beyond what you can imagine, waiting to be explored and used to its full potential.

“To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

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