By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
How can you beat your ego with meditation? One of the primary benefits of meditation is creating a sense of stillness, and calm, that is present throughout one’s entire life. The stillness and inner peace is one of the most attractive aspects of making meditation a daily practice. Meditation is clearing the mind; and in clearing the mind; silences the ego. In order to silence the ego; it is necessary to understand what the ego is.
Let’s start with what the ego is not. Within Yogic philosophy, the ego is only part of you, but it is not all of you. The ego is a form of personality consciousness, with a unique tasking system of analyzing, judging, and labeling everything. The ego is who your mind thinks you are.
In Yogic terms, some call the ego “asmita.” Just this term, alone, allows us to identify this self-created image of ourselves, which we sometimes believe is us, but it is not entirely us. In reference to the ego, Swami Krishnananda once said, “That which stands between the meditating consciousness and the object is something inscrutable. It is because of this inscrutability that it cannot easily be overcome. On scrutiny, that principle will be realised to be a projection from the meditating consciousness itself. It is you yourself standing there as an obstacle to yourself. Ultimately you will realise that there is nobody else.”
Trying to beat your ego, by attacking it directly, actually serves to strengthen it. The ego feeds off survival situations, and being attacked, adds another battle hardened facet to its perceived self. In a survival situation, the ego becomes a victim or a perpetrator. If it sees itself as a victim, the ego imagines the present self is being overly critical and making a martyr of it. If the ego sees itself as a perpetrator, it is the doer of such bad deeds that it deserves contempt. An ego, in this state, is even more powerful than the normal form of ego, which is unhealthy because it can justify criminal behavior.
Therefore, never seek to directly attack and defeat the ego because it is an exercise in self-defeat. We actually need the ego for survival, because some comparisons will save our lives. How can this be? If we cross a street, we need to observe, analyze, and make a judgment call as to when we cross. Therefore, the ego is necessary, but we cannot allow the ego to have the driver’s seat of our mind.
In order to control the ego, it must be observed objectively in states of meditation. The ego struggles for attention and creates mind chatter by shouting out different thoughts concerning pride, worry, and fear. The mind can wander much like a monkey without a purpose. Hence, the term “monkey mind” is a well known hurdle in meditation.
Many beginners, to meditation, grow disheartened at this point – not understanding why a practice that is supposed to bring inner peace is bringing them just the opposite. It would be a mistake to give up and give the ego what it wants. The beginner’s frustration and nervousness will fade with continued meditation and observation.
When the ego is causing disquiet within your inner waters – accept it for what it is and simply observe the inner turmoil. This automatically creates the distance needed to tolerate this distress. With careful observation, the ego’s final attempt at survival actually becomes fuel for radical inner change. Stay the course, and the waters will calm down before you know it – leading to that stillness and peace for which meditation is known.
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