Thursday, December 11, 2014

Give the Ego a Chance: How to Heal and Work with it

Many people are striving now a day to be happy. All over the world many of us feel compelled to grow and find a personal and collective state of joy and peace. When we face this enormous so-called challenge of “becoming happier”, we realize that there is no other form of growth than self-development, and that this journey is all about self-discovery.
It is common to seek the questions of “why” this or that is happening to me, but certainly, this leads to a great frustration as we realize there is no real or satisfying answer. We then move to a much more effective question: “how” to accomplish that person that I want to be. And without hesitation this dilemma encounters the real great question: “who am I?”.

Getting to Know the Ego:

One of the major blocks we find in the journey of self-discovery is the Ego. What is the Ego? Although there is a popular knowledge about it through affirmations like “this feeds my ego” or “you need a stronger ego”, when we come closer to eastern perspectives it is frequent to find the notion of letting go of the ego.

How does this really work? Who am I beyond my ego?

First of all we need a definition of ego to give a common ground of what we are talking about. Although Psychology has made long-term attempts of defining it, now a days there is a growing necessity of managing this and more concepts, and moreover, applying them in our real life. In this article I will give grounded notions of the Ego and its adherent concepts so that we can learn to work with ourselves in our daily life.
Just as we need a vehicle to move through long distances, we need an ego to function in this third dimension and navigate through this material reality. Just as a car (or our body), commonly we don´t know all of its pieces and mechanisms, but we are aware that it moves, functions and serves a purpose.
Imagine yourself floating around with no purpose and bumping into the objects in the world with no direction. It would be chaotic. So we need a certain guideline, a sense of motion and an inner sense of piloting this navigation.
The ego is a vehicle. Of what? The real You. Picture yourself sitting in a computer (which for this example could be another type of vehicle). Imagine that the computer suddenly starts using you and begins to open programs and applications with no control of you over it. It would be ridiculous right? It is as ridiculous the way that the ego –and its ally, the mind- controls our lives. So  if the computer is the ego and the mind (as a software), then who or what is controlling it…? You. Who is you? Think for a moment… There is an inner sense of you that moves beyond the vehicles, that has consciousness of them and gives purpose to that use. That inner attitude could be defined as the Soul, in C.G. Jung´s terms.

As the computer registers a history of how it was used and when, so does our Ego. We register all of our impressions in the world as we grew up. Our first society is our family, directed by our parents, and this is the first mirror and given source of concepts that we get for ourselves and the sense of who we are. And of course there is a whole realm of ourselves that we don´t yet know (the personal unconscious). But as our parents were also influenced and impregnated by something else (the collective unconscious) our ego is a product of multiple and inherited patterns of conditioning (behaviors, morals, etc),as Osho refers to it, that “models” our external presentation.

So the Ego becomes a character built up by multiple characters, concepts and the roles we play in society, everything we have externally learned as good or bad. So the Ego, the subject of consciousness, as Jung defines it, is the complex of things that we have identified upon and by which we function. In other words, what we know about ourselves, or what we have chosen to know about ourselves are those characters we play in all of our relationships.

But the Ego, this vehicle, is part of a whole, something bigger in which it is sustained. The Psyche, that bigger realm, contains 2 dimensions: the conscious and the unconscious. In the field of the conscious the ego resides. In the field of the unconscious the Self resides, that animus part of us that embodies and manifests the soul.
The consciousness would be like the property of our whole psychic realm of knowing itself.

The Traps of the Ego:

So the Ego is made of characters and concepts learned (most of them imposed!) and like in any movie, the Ego likes to play games between these roles. Emotion and commotion are the motors of this theatre, and although it can be fascinating it can also be very exhausting and destructive. The Ego was taught to manipulate and be manipulated, to attack and defend itself. So the vehicle that we are taught to use has these main functions.

As part of the show, the Ego is so, a creator and victim of this ornamented illusion. It relates primarily to the external world, thus, likes to control the uncontrollable. The Ego knows that the realm of the unconscious is by nature, uncertain, and so, as a vehicle, needs a structure to feel secure. It will do anything to keep holding the great illusion of a perfectly controlled and manipulated world outside, where everyone else is revolving around it and fulfilling its demands. This is what we call the traps of the ego: it will lie, push, demand, defend, attack, compete, protect, constrain, yell, and dramatize, as far as it can go, so to keep up this ongoing game of sustaining the main illusion of control. The greatest joke of the Ego is that it makes a fool of itself. As it is oriented towards the outside world, the Ego won´t take responsibility for itself, tending to judge and blame the outside world for its results. It is good to remember that “we don´t see thing as they are, we see them as we are”. The great illusion that happiness or God is something you search on the outside is a notion that comes from the Ego.

On a collective level, the sum of Egos build up a conditioned and rigid society whose individuals are confined to determined ways of behaving and in which the world is a result of black and white, good and bad, a consensus of “normality” and what is expected of each one. There is no room for spontaneity, authenticity and creativity, because this defies the old rigid ways of the Ego and so, we learn to compromise our inner truth since the very beginning. And every time the illusion is cracked open, it is hurtful for the Ego (not the true Self).

The process by which the Ego derives to a False Self instead of a Real Self is a matter of a whole new article; however, it is central to understand how this vehicle can be oriented to fulfill one way or another. The Ego, which is an essential quality of the human being, is prone to support either the negative sides of yourself or the positive ones.

On a “metaphysical” level, the Ego vibrates mainly on FEAR (of the natural uncertainty of reality) and so, it serves a very specific purpose of protecting the human body, its functions, and the embodied soul. Although it may surprise you, this is a very essential need for the human being; if it weren´t for the Ego, we would have no notion of the material world and our soul -and its floating nature- would make us just wonder around and not assimilate that a passing car or a raging lion could kill us. This is where the feeling of separation originally arises from, since we are born in a finite body, we adjust to the consciousness of differentiation from infinity.

Nevertheless, the Ego is supposed to be what it essentially is: a vehicle for the soul in this third dimension. And, as my Kundalini Yoga Master used to say to me often, “the rest is Maya (illusion) and games”.

Shedding the Ego: moving towards the Soul

As we now know that the Ego is a necessary mechanism of the human reality, as it translates the experiences of the outside world to our inner sense of being, we cannot get rid of it. Trying to eliminate it in the sense of a battle can even create more duality and suffering. However, if we remember the principle of the Universe, “nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is transformed”, then we can have a closer sense of the Ego work that is to be done: Transformation.

As C.G. Jung and many others have described, transformation can only happen when we accept first. Acceptance has the quality of inclusion and integration and resonates on the level of LOVE, which is the Soul´s nature. Accept what? Everything that is beyond the boundaries of the ego (including it): uncertainty and the unknown. The Ego can only be transcended, this means, accept it and go beyond. Beyond where? Not to the outside world but within. As we move towards the inner self (the manifested aspect of the Soul) we delve into the unconscious and the unknown. This is the place that in Transpersonal Psychology is called “The Shadow”: hidden on unconscious aspects of oneself which the ego has either repressed or never recognized. It is the one that holds the potential of becoming our True Self, it is where our authenticity, spontaneity and all the pasts wounds related to them are resting, constituting at the same time, our greatest fears.

The wise Miguel Ruiz said that what we mostly fear is to become our True Self, and to do that we need to transcend the Ego, go beyond its mechanisms and tune into acceptance. This is why we mostly experience the opposite of the Ego in this process: vulnerability, openness, innocence, flexibility, softness, neutrality. Recalling on C.G. Jung, “the psyche is transformed or developed by the relationship of the ego to the unconscious”.

That which you reject gives you the opportunity of going deeper within you. Working with the Shadow is like going inside a dark room. You move around it, explore the experience with your whole senses and intuition and reach for the power switch (that holds your potential), finally turning the light on. This light, which is our Consciousness, suddenly brings a sense of completeness again. The more lights your turn on in the inside, the more consciousness you have of yourself and the saying “we are light” makes even more sense. It is in this light that it is possible to embrace our own divinity because there is full acceptance and consciousness of who we truly are.
This is how self-discovery leads to wisdom; you have the experience of your Inner Self. Transcending the Ego implies, then, to go within and not outside, because in the inside our Soul is connected to the Cosmic Consciousness, the Original Experience… “Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside awakes” (C.G. Jung).

To contribute to the evolution of humanity, we must start within ourselves. As we unfold our own personal subconscious, defying our ego with divine courage, we dive into our own personal consciousness, and thus, contributing to the collective consciousness too and its enlightment.
As we move closer to the Soul, let us give the vehicle (ego) a chance to be what it is meant to be: an expression of the Soul, serving and manifesting our Inner Self in the outside world.

Opportunities to heal and work with the Ego:
  • -          Get to know your Shadow and work with it.
  • -       Unidentify from your regular beliefs. Remember beliefs are temporary and they will change just as your circumstances do.
  • -          Get to know your Inner Self through the realm of the body; ask yourself frequently “What am I feeling right now?” and let the answer unfold itself by sensations instead of words at first. Take your time! This is not a fast exercise.
  • -          Gain consciousness of your “roles” and “characters”; which are the most common and when do they come outside to play.
  • -         Practice consciousness: be a witness of yourself, use slow and deep breathing, gain mindfulness upon everything you do.
  • -       Get to know yourself in these four dimensions, differentiating between them: thoughts, feelings, sensations, intuitions.
  • -          Practice interesting games such as dieting of judgments for a whole hour or expressing yourself without swearing to see what other language and form of expression comes out of you.
  • -          Adopt an innocent attitude as if you were a child, and play the learning game for a whole day: Rediscover everything, give yourself the chance of not knowing (and be ok with it), give yourself the chance of not having the last word nor trying to prove someone wrong. At the end of the day ask yourself gently: What did I learn from myself today?
  • -          If you made a mistake, laugh at yourself, laugh with yourself, then forgive yourself, just as an act of love.
  • -   Explore what happens to you internally if something doesn´t go your way. Explore your reactions. Write them down. Then read them outloud pretending you are a charcter from a movie. What do you feel?
  • -          At the end of the day, be thankful for all the “bad things” that happened. Explore what feelings and fears come to you. Let them exist. Allow yourself to truly thank bad things that happened. Practice this for a week and register what changes in you after this.
  • -          At the beginning of the day, open your arms and declare: I TRUST everything that comes to me during this day. Everything. Make the Ego uncomfortable. Take a leap of faith.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

8 aprendizajes de Vida en otro país: 8 motivos para estar Vivo
Carolina Israel Mosqueira (Kirinroop Kaur)
Diciembre 2014.

Viajar es una de las experiencias más transformadoras que he tenido en la vida y que me ha hecho crecer, especialmente en aquellas ocasiones en que he estado sola y he tenido que enfrentarme al mundo con todo lo que soy en ese momento. En esta ocasión, he elegido conscientemente enfrentar mis mayores miedos: estar sola y saltar hacia lo desconocido. Vivir en otro país completamente solo puede ser aterrador y al mismo tiempo movilizar todos los recursos internos. Esta gran experiencia está provocando una gran transformación en mí y he decidido plasmarlo aquí para poder compartir estos tremendos aprendizajes, a la vez tan sencillos, acerca de la sabiduría de la soledad, la apertura de la mente y del viaje a lo desconocido y nuevo.

1)      Valorar lo que tengo es anclarme: mi familia, mis relaciones, todo lo que he construido. Hasta que no te mueves, no descubres qué cosas en tu vida unen el panorama completo. Cuando estás lejos, de pronto aparece tus seres queridos, pero lo más increíble es que no sólo se manifiestan en recuerdos, sino más aún, son las cualidades de su persona lo que resalta. Sólo ahí te das cuenta lo que has aprendido de esa persona y su presencia. El sentido de lo práctico de mi mamá, el sabio consejo de mis padres, el humor y disfrute de la vida de mi prima, la risa y el poder sanador de mis amigos, la aceptación incondicional de mi perrita, etc. A través de todo ellos, y todos los espejos que he conocido (por contraste o resonancia), puedo reconocer en mí lo que he cultivado. Valorar lo que se tiene trae humildad y descanso, y esa inmensa gratitud fortalece las raíces.

2)      Vivir liviano es ser más libre: Cuando toda tu vida cabe una maleta te das cuenta que realmente es posible vivir con poco y, más aún, con lo esencial. Incluso puede ser pertubardor darse cuenta cuántas necesidades creadas tenemos cada día, somos bombardeados por deseos inútiles que no se sostienen en el tiempo. Tapamos nuestros vacíos y carencias personales con cosas, pero tristemente, esto sólo dura un tiempo….el vacío se queda...! Vivir liviano es tener menos necesidades y más abundancia. Más gratitud, más disfrute de las experiencias que hay hoy en nuestras vidas, más despierto a los regalos pequeños que se deslizan fugaces entre los minuteros del día.

3)      Valorar lo simple es vivir enamorado: Sin ir más lejos, desapegarme de todo me ha hecho reencantarme con la vida. Cuando sueltas todas las complicaciones, el peso denso de las responsabilidades y su ruido mental, sólo quedas tú y el momento presente. ¿Por qué nos olvidamos de jugar? Estar enamorado implica estar abierto, inocente y vulnerable, en lugar de estar cerrado, juzgando y a la defensiva. Creo que no hay nada de malo en estos dos, pero sí siento que resulta doloroso no elegirlo conscientemente. Cuando estás enamorado, cualquier cosa que haga el otro parece divina y llena de gracia. ¿Quién te dijo que la Vida no hace lo mismo? La Vida piensa eso de ti :)  Cada cosa simple tiene un sabor exquisito, sólo si te das el tiempo de saborearlo. Y ahí está toda la magia.

4)      Soltar lo viejo te rejuvenece: Si bien yo pensaba que había soltado casi todas las creencias viejas en mi vida, estaba equivocada. Te sorprenderías si pudieras ver la cantidad de creencias limitantes que tienes funcionando en tu vida. Viejas ideas, miedos, conceptos absolutistas, falsas asociaciones y emociones….todo pegoteado en tu capacidad de vivenciar plenamente una experiencia. Lo más loco, nos aterra el hecho de soltar lo que conocemos y seguimos aferrándonos a lo familiar y conocido, por más que éste nos haga sufrir…sin saber que el gran truco está escrito ya hace siglos en la naturaleza… cuando la oruga suelta su cascarón se convierte en mariposa, así como la serpiente cambia de piel. Nunca descubres tu máximo potencial hasta que te enfrentas a situaciones desconocidas, donde lo viejo ya no sirve. Es como tener una nave que le van a apareciendo nuevas funciones a medida que va avanzando. Descubrir quién eres más allá de lo típico de ti, te refresca, te renueva y revitaliza. La mejor versión de ti mismo va apareciendo cuando vas sacando las capas que ha puesto sobre ti desde el principio.

5)      Confiar es decir Sí a la Vida: No hay nada más potente que una proyección mental positiva acompañada de mucha respiración. La única manera de enfrentar los miedos es confiando en uno mismo y el propio destino; confiando en la Vida y su diseño perfecto. Cuando estás positivo y determinado, atraes a ti lo mismo. Y cuando atraes lo contrario tienes dos opciones: dejarte influenciar y volverte negativo (olvidarte de quién eres) o aceptar el desafío y mantener un corazón abierto, siendo fiel a quién eres. Es TU vida, tú eliges cómo quieres sentirte y cómo quieres relacionarte con lo que viene a ti. No importa lo que suceda, tú siempre tienes la última palabra, y la última palabra es tu acción, lo que eliges ser en cada momento y lo que proyectas con esa acción. Esa es Tu Realidad.

6)      Enfrentar los miedos es un salto de Fe: Hay una extraña y peculiar sensación en el acto de saltar al vacío; por un momento morir de miedo pensando que lo peor podría estar al otro lado, y más aún, la terrible sensación de no poder controlar el futuro o lo externo. Al mismo tiempo una pequeña lucecita muy dentro guiando el camino y asegurando que todo va a estar bien. El día que decidí abrazar a mi destino consciente y consistentemente todos los días, mis sensaciones cambiaron. Oportunidades a mi alrededor tomaron otro color. Situaciones llegaron a mí con cualidades positivas y motivantes. No hay nada más gratificante que demostrarse a uno mismo que “sí puedes” y enfrentar los fantasmas. ¿Para qué, cuando pequeño, prendes la luz cuando sientes miedo? Es impresionante la sabiduría que surge de abrazar lo desconocido. Cuando te permites sentir miedo y luego lo miras a la cara, desaparece. ¿Qué queda? Conocimiento y experiencia.

7)      La soledad es un espejismo: ¿A qué tememos realmente al estar “solos”? He ido desenmasacarando mi miedo y sólo he encontrado mente. Mi miedo y angustia por la soledad está en los pensamientos y únicamente allí. ¿Cómo lo des-cubrí? Mis momentos de mayor disfrute aparecieron: saboreando el océano mientras nadaba en el mar de noche, contemplando la luna y el atardecer mientras me preguntaba ¿Cómo es posible que esto sea taaaan hermoso?, meditando profundamente en mi habitación, perdiéndome en la melodía infinita de un instrumento musical y de mi propia voz… Por supuesto que los momentos compartidos con otras personas trajeron inmensa felicidad también. Pero eso sólo ocurre cuando comprendes que te estás compartiendo a ti mismo en esos momentos, tu deliciosa presencia. Y ésta se cultiva en los momentos de soledad cuando toda la existencia está contigo; ahí te das cuenta que esa “sol-edad”, esa “edad del sol” es una fuente inacabable de calor y sabiduría. La compañía sólo es exquisita porque existe la soledad. Y lo que realmente se comparte en un encuentro son dos soledades completas de sí mismas. Tienes que dejar de creer que estar solo es doloroso o malo. Si puedes abrazar tu sol-edad, caminarás por la vida dando iluminando con tu sol a todos quienes te rodean, dándoles calor, más consciencia y más luz. Recuerda, el sol es la estrella más grande y es un reflejo de ti.

8)      En tus miedos está tu mayor potencial: Nunca pensé que podría estar completamente sola, lejos de mi gente, mi pasado y lo conocido. Vivimos la vida tratando de escapar de eso que nos aterra sin saber que allí se esconde el máximo potencial de lo que somos. Como a una semilla en su cáscara, calentita y cómoda, le dijeron un día que iba a convertirse en un gigantesco roble y ella rió con ironía, “Pfff!! Yo?? Nah… imposible”. Sólo necesitas agua (nutrirte con cariño y cosas enriquecedoras), sol (motivación diaria y energía, respiración), a medida que creces, una tierra (creación personal, suelo propio) donde hacer crecer tus raíces, y a medida que vives, cambio (cambian las estaciones, las circunstancias te desafían y tú te adaptas y regeneras). Recuerda, mientras más hondo van tus raíces, más fuerte y estable crece el árbol. Mientras más te conoces y navegas hacia lo profundo y desconocido en ti, más  creces y floreces. 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Awakening the Consciousness

Major changes occur in our lives when we tune in to our souls. 
Our purpose uncoils and our path unfolds for us to walk in Grace. 
The question is, 
are we Courageous enough to really Be ourselves?