Please feel free to read this blog and join in. I hope you will write something inspirational, inspiring, spiritual, controversial, amusing, engaging or just plain run of the mill. But please don't be brusque, churlish or licentious.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ramifications of the Ego

The ego is manifested when you think you are separate from others and when you compare yourself to others.  In short, the ego is a product of the thinking mind.  The ego is largely illusory and often causes  feelings and emotions.  Sometimes the feeling and emotions are "good" and sometimes "bad".  It all depends on your state of consciousness and the situation at the time.

When we talk about the ego, we are in effect talking about what you believe to be true about yourself.  When you believe you are the physical body (the self) that is when you start having an ego. When you believe you are your name and everything that goes with it, you become attached to the self, and the self needs recognition.  The ego constantly strives to prove that it is separate, better, worse, more important, and so on than the rest of the world's inhabitants.  Some people may believe their religion is the only one God recognizes, some people may believe their type of yoga is the only real yoga, and some people believe if science can't "prove" it it is not true.

Why is there an ego and does it serve any purpose?  These two questions I will attempt to answer in this post.  First of all, the human brain has taken thousands of years to evolve to where it is today.  No other animal has the ability to see cause and effect like humans do.  Humans have no real good defensive mechanisms such as scales, hooks, barbs, fangs or claws.  In the beginning humans probably had a very difficult time surviving in the hostile world.

Can you imagine living in an environment where there are large carnivorous predators such as saber tooth tigers, man eating dogs, wolves, and other ferocious animals?  Also, no quick-stops or supermarkets, no ready-made clothes, no schools or many of the other conveniences we take for granted today.  It would be sink or swim.  People had to survive on their own ingenuity, intelligence, and capabilities. Those that survived passed their genes on to their offspring. As time went on the human brain became larger and smarter.

Rather than relying on defensive mechanisms humans relied on their cerebral cortex for survival. Humans became capable of performing cognitive functions such as thinking in the abstract, tool making, and language. The brain became the organ of defense as well as offense. Humans soon were able to imagine, visualize and come up with new and innovative ideas for surviving. Fire, spears, bows and arrows, animal skins for clothing and shelter were slowly developed to help ward off predators as well as kill them. They could now understand cause and effect and take control of their own destiny. The age of reasoning was born and humans became hunters rather than the hunted.

With larger brains they saw themselves as separate from the world and all other species. They now had a past, present and future - an identity they called self. With the capability of reasoning, conceptualization, and abstract thinking, humans soon had the ability to compare and judge. They could see one thing happen, then another and put the two together and formulate a cause and effect. They could compare and judge and predict the future. This was a tremendous advantage over the rest of the animals.

This ability to see one's self as not only separate and distinct, but also as better or worse, is what modern man calls the ego. The ego is impossible to isolate and describe because its roots go deep into the very fabric of our ancestral heritage. The ego is polygenic - reaching far and wide encompassing all humans that have ever lived - all of their fears, desires, relationships, and pleasures - all of their values and feelings. The ego became an extension of the self.

Next - how the self and the ego are intertwined.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yoga Mats

I've been spending some time lately painting yoga mats.  Don't ask me why I do this because I really don't know except I like doing it.  I have given 20 away and sold one.  Here are some of my latest mats:

Friday, January 20, 2012

And the Winner is - - -

There is no winner because no one posted a description about observing thoughts and the benefit of doing so.  I'm sorry no one could come up with an answer and I'm sorry no one would take the time to it.
So what can I do to get some participation on this blog?  Are people afraid to post their thoughts or is it too much trouble or is it no one cares?  In any case I will continue to scribble on with my thoughts, trials, and tribulations as I plod on. 

I went to Krapalu Yoga Center in Mass two weeks ago to attend part 2 of Warriors at Ease.  The program is a certification course to work with people who have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  There were 36 students in the program and 6 instructors.  I learned from some of the best teachers in the country on how to teach yoga and meditation to combat veterans with these maladies.  Now my task is to find a willing veteran with PTSD or TBI who is willing to be my student.  I will be working with a mentor (one of the teachers) and once I pass I will be certified.  If you know of anyone with these conditions please let them know about this great program.  For information about Warrors At Ease go to www.warriorsatease.com.   

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Calm, Cool, Collected Mind

A calm, cool and collected mind gives you an extraordinary ability to control your thoughts and emotions.  When you are able to witness your thoughts as they arise and discern them, there are no thoughts that can cause you negative emotions.  Just for demonstration purposes let's say that someone cuts you off in traffic and then flips you the bird.  A negative thought immediately arises within your mind, something like, "Why that son of a b**ch, I'll show him."  You see the thought for what it is - a negative thought, and the anger and frustration subside as quick as they arose.  There have been people killed over stupid instances just like this one.  

A person receives stimuli from the environment by way of the senses and nerve impulses are sent to the brain.  The brain receives the messages, analyzes them and within a fraction of a second sends nerve impulses to a gland, a muscle, another part of the brain, or some other part of the body.  In the case of the scenario above, the brain sends an impulse to the adrenal gland, adrenalin is secreted and the whole body reacts.  If the chain reaction were to be cut short no reaction would occur.  This is where recognition of thoughts plays a very important role.  By recognizing the thought no one get hurt. 

I challenge any reader of this blog to describe another situation in which the ability to observe thoughts could prove beneficial.  I will send a free copy of You Can Develop Awareness to the winner. Just click on Comments at the bottom of this post and type away.  The winner will be announced in two weeks.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What Now?

If you have successfully been able to calm your mind you have made a giant step toward being able to observe yourself.  This is called "planting the seed."  Once your mind is free from negative and unnecessary thoughts you will understand what it's like to live in peace and harmony (P&H) for that brief period of meditation time.

Your goal now is to increase the time spent in P&H.  This is the "growth" period of your practice. The way to do this is to continue a daily meditation practice.  Keep practicing every day and the amount of time spent in P&H will naturally increase.  Make your practice a commitment.  Also, increase the time you sit in meditation until you reach one hour.  Once you reach one hour every day you will begin to experience the ability to recognize negative and unnecessary thoughts during non-meditation times such as during conversations, driving, exercising, eating, walking, and so on.  This may be a whole new experience for you.  You may even want to celebrate by taking a few days off from meditation and enjoy your new found freedom from unwanted intrusive thoughts. 

There will always be moments when negative and unnecessary thoughts appear in the mind field.  This will happen even to people who have developed a strong P&H mind.  When that happens the trick is to be able to recognize those thoughts.  This is the ability to watch the mind. With your P&H ability you are now able to recognize those intrusive thoughts and not act on them or react to them.  In the past you may have raised your voice to someone (acted) and/or had a bout of anxiety (react).  Now, as soon as the thought appears you will say, "There's a negative thought," and at that moment it will disappear and cause no action or reaction. 

Now you have the supernatural ability to observe your mind.  By cultivating your meditation practice from calmness (the seed) into observation (growth), you have developed (produced) the ability to control your thoughts and your reactions to them.  CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Next - More things you can do with your newfound ability.