The EGO: Is it the Enemy to a Person on the Spiritual Path?

‘Cause I gonna make you see,
there is nobody else here,
no one like me.
I’m special, so special!
I gotta have some of your attention,
give it to me!
(Pretenders, Brass in Pocket)



“Ego” is a word with a different meaning in psychology than in spiritual communities. Psychologists refer to the ‘I’ experience as an institution that can become aware of our biases and conditioning. We spiritual folks think of the ego as a wrench in the spiritual path; an interference that prevents us from experiencing what lies ‘Beyond’.

A spiritual path is essentially the re-wiring of our experienced nature. Over the years the appreciation of what is meaningful to us changes. We are encouraged to enjoy the magnificence of the “I” just as before but we are shown how our life story fits in the greater good. The Course in Miracles differentiates grandeur from grandiosity, the contrast of a miracle-minded lifestyle and ego delusion. Along a spiritual path we are asked to develop our talents. We are shown how to live a life of purpose, of giving, of helping others, of shining the light for them. Purpose merges with passion. We do not have to give up anything that is meaningful to us, we just have to be open to be stripped of everything that is holding us back on our spiritual quest.

The transition from being ‘I’-centered to walking a higher path can be a tough transition, but it doesn’t have to be. As it turns out, our spiritual aspirations are not quite as kosher as we want them to be. Our craving to be special is very clever. Our ego is especially happy to put on spiritual clothes. Even the craving for enlightenment, for being a hermit, for sexual abstinence, for being a guru to others, can be an ego craving in disguise.

These days it takes more than just being sexually attractive; we also have to be perceived as kind and considerate; we need to have earnings potential or power. We must be considered ‘cool’ in one way or another. We crave to be somebody. We don’t want to be just a body, we want to be looked up to, celebrated, and considered to be cool. Our ego will put a nice story together to make us feel special, and will perhaps even make it sound spiritual. And once we know that we are special in our eyes and that of others, we feel alive.

Please don’t fool yourself and just say, ‘I must not have these cravings’. Being special is a driving force of life. When we lose this ego motivation, when we lose our mojo so to speak, life loses all its charm, spice and sexiness. When our ego gets hurt and feels this absence, life becomes colorless, depressing and meaningless. This ego is us, until the day when we can leave these cravings behind like a worn-out skin. Yet, until this blessed day arrives we have to accept what makes our blood boil.

It took me a long time to understand that by fighting our cravings to be special, we are messing with our life force. There is no need for this whatsoever. Life holds all the answers for us and they come when we are ready to hear them. We can keep our mojo while enjoying a meaningful life at the same time.

I hope you understand that after this insight you already have made it!

You do not need to wait for enlightenment to begin your life. All you have to do is to express your passions and let spirit show you how to steer in a purposeful direction. Suddenly life’s many problems and obstacles no longer stand in the way of your happiness; suddenly they becomes messengers and signs to put you on the right path instead. You do not have to sacrifice anything; abundance is yours to enjoy, just learn what exactly it is that you want.

The Bhagavad Gita as well as Christianity encourage us to put our heart and soul into our work and the services we supply to others. There is only one requirement to spiritual success, we have to let go of all kind of expectations to get something in return. Ironically, our spiritual path takes care of us and showers us with care and attention that our narrow-minded ego never could have fathomed.

 

Let’s face life with an open mind and a loving heart and see what is coming our way.

 

About the Author:  Christian M. Wiese discovered a wonderful force—the Way—while working in the busy world of financial markets. He shared his ten year Awakening journey in his two books, ‘The Magnificent Experiment’ and ‘The Way of the Meister’. Today, Christian works as author, educator and spiritual coach in Massachusetts, USA.You can follow his work and connect with him at www.christianmwiese.com

7 Lesser Known Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is often an overlooked reason for many of our body’s mysterious symptoms. Obviously, no person purposefully aims to miss sleep hours, but we often underestimate how much a lacking hour here and there over an extended period of time can affect our body. Most people know of the more common symptoms of sleep deprivation. We know it hinders your mental focus and we know we can feel fatigue. There is a long list of lesser known symptoms that most people are unaware of. Be aware of these symptoms and see if you might suffer unknowingly from sleep deprivation.

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Sleep deprivation is often an overlooked reason for many of our body’s mysterious symptoms.   Obviously, no person purposefully aims to miss sleep hours, but we often underestimate how much a lacking hour here and there over an extended period of time can affect our body.  Most people know of the more common symptoms of sleep deprivation.  We know it hinders your mental focus and we know we can feel fatigue.  There is a long list of lesser known symptoms that most people are unaware of.  Be aware of these symptoms and see if you might suffer unknowingly from sleep deprivation.

7 Lesser Know Consequences of Sleep Deprivation: 

  • It Can Make You Look Older – Poor sleepers have increased signs of skin aging and slower recovery from a variety of environmental stressors, such as disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet (UV) radiation. They also tend to have dull skin and an overall worse facial appearance.  This increased aging is likely from reduced growth hormone and increased cortisol levels.  Beauty sleep has acquired its title for a legit reason!
  • You Will Want More High-Calorie Snacks – After one sleepless night, the brain’s frontal lobe will develop impaired activity. The frontal lobe governs complex decision making.  To add, the deeper brain’s center that responds to rewards will be increased.  In other words, it is more likely for you to struggle with eating healthy which could deter your weight loss goals – if you have any.
  • You And Your Spouse Will Fight More – Yes, I was surprised with this one too, but it is true! In multiple studies, scientists have learned that a lack of sleep can cause relationship issues.  After a bad night’s sleep a couple will more likely engage in unnecessary conflict.   Keep in mind it can also begin the other way around – you might have sleeping problems due to arguing.  Be cautious to not fall into this cycle.  It is hard to break.
  • You Will Feel More Aches and Pains – A lack of sleep can impair your natural pain control mechanisms and exacerbate those nagging aches and pains. Sleep problems can even increase your risk of developing fibromyalgia.  The opposite is also true – more sleep will reduce your pain sensitivity.
  • It Can Affect Your Dating Life – Chances are you have heard the term “Beer Goggles”. Sleep deprivation can produce something called “Insomnia Goggles”.  Because missing sleep hours can affect your frontal lobe and your ability to process complex decision making, you might have poor judgement in romantic situations such as judging how much a person is into you.  Is anyone else imagining a college frat guy with beer goggles and insomnia goggles – a recipe for very poor judgement?
  • Your Anxiety Will Worsen – After a few nights of improper sleep, your anticipatory anxiety could amplify by affecting regions associated with emotional processing. If your mood is low and your anxiety is high, consider the most natural antidepressant around – sleep therapy.
  • You Insulin Sensitivity Will Be Reduced – Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh discovered that teens who normally get 6 hours of sleep per night can improve their insulin resistance by 9% with adding 1 extra hour of sleep. Reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes by catching some extra ZZZ’s.

Source:  The Super-Charged Hormone Diet by Dr. Natasha Turner

9 Toxic Behaviors that Keep Us From Happiness

No person is immune to behaving in a toxic or dangerous way once in a while. What is important is knowing to move past these moments by learning to be better, embrace personal growth, instead of letting these habits stick around for longer than they are needed. Do not let them live rent free in your mind and heart damaging your property.

Breaking-Free-from-Victim-Mentality

Let’s be real – No person is immune to behaving in a toxic or dangerous way once in a while. What is important is knowing to move past these moments by learning to be better, embrace personal growth, instead of letting these habits stick around for longer than they are needed. Do not let them live rent free in your mind and heart damaging your property.

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There are probably more toxic behaviors to list, but these 9 come to mind as the most important.

1. Victim Mentality 

When you have been the victim in a situation or multiple situations, especially before adulthood, it is hard to not try to protect yourself from these pains. Know there is a difference between protecting yourself and expecting to be hurt. Expecting to be a victim can keep you from feeling empowered and in control of your destiny.

“Master yourself, and become king of the world around you. Let no odds, chastisement, exile, doubt, fear, or ANY mental virii prevent you from accomplishing your dreams. Never be a victim of life; be it’s conqueror.”

2. Living in the Past or Living in the Future

It is good to acknowledge your past and learn from your life’s lesson, but you do not need to relive the pain and regrets of the past. It is good to grow towards the future and prepare for the life you vision, but not at the expense of missing out on the magic of living in the present. Both extreme mindsets lead to ignoring the needs of the people around you.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”

-Bill Keane-

3. Creating Enemies 

Most everyone is just doing their best in life. Any person who intentionally causes pain is suffering with their own demons unaware of how poisoned their thinking is due to all the pain they have received from others in life. Acknowledging this pain, offering your understanding and forgiveness, can help them see through themselves. This act can create a friend from an enemy.

“When you begin to see that your enemy is suffering, that is the beginning of insight.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh-

4. Holding on to Grudges

Sometimes, we are caught in situations with others where it’s not easy to let go soon after it happens. Some situations are traumatic and require a great deal of counseling, introspection and healing. Any grudge takes energy to keep and it gives this person power over you. Letting go of a grudge is more about your own peace & clarity versus forgiving the other person.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

-Buddha-

5. Mindlessly Living

It takes effort to live consciously. Reacting out of habit can cause a varied response with a mix of old patterns and emotional wounds mostly coming from the subconscious mind. When we live mindfully, we react to every situation with intelligence, wisdom, compassion and with the intent to create the best outcome possible.

“Mindless habitual behavior is the enemy of innovation.”

-Rosabeth Moss Kanter-

6. Withholding Love

Love can be used as a weapon even more disastrous than hate, but to give your love freely is a gift to yourself and the world. This is the only way you can surround yourself with multiple loving people in the form of friendship, family and romantic encounters. When a person stumbles in your life who abuses your love, your heart will already be so full, their attempts to cause you pain will be minimal.

“Take stock of your thoughts and behavior. Each night ask yourself, when were you negative when you could have been positive? When did you withhold love when you might have given it? When did you play a neurotic game instead of behaving in a powerful way? Use this process to self-correct.”

-Marianne Williamson-

7. The Need to Be Right

Feeling the need to be right is less about discovering the truth and more about protecting yourself from being wrong. It is an ego-based reaction. You can skillfully debate your position based on your truths and still listen respectfully to another person’s truths. If your reasoning is sound, maybe you will plant a seed in another’s mind for them to discover on their own, but that is all you can do when it comes to a tightly held belief. By listening to another person’s views, you too might be sent on the similar path to your own discoveries. Overall, it is about expanding the mind while letting go of your pride.

“He who establishes his argument by noise and command, shows that his reason is weak.”

– Michel de Montaigne –

8. Cheating in Life

Not going about things the right way is a disservice to yourself. It robs you of the ability to feel full satisfaction of a fairly earned accomplishment. No matter how much you push away feelings of guilt to yourself or others who might have been affected by this action, they exist somewhere within and can easily resurface at any time.

“The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one’s self. All sin is easy after that.”

-Pearl Bailey-

9. Allowing Ego to Drive 

Most if not all of the above behaviors could all be connected to the ego. The most important personal development discovery is when you can decide which parts of your ego requires healing and which parts need to be discarded. Once enough negativity has been removed, you can start living your life guided by your inner voice. The ego becomes a trusted advisor who sits in the passenger seat while your higher self is driving the car.

“Thinking, or more precisely identification with thinking, gives rise to and maintains the ego, which, in our Western

society in particular, is out of control. It believes it is real and tries hard to maintain its supremacy. Negative states of mind, such as anger, resentment, fear, envy, and jealousy, are products of the ego.”

-Eckhart Tolle-