Pondering Ego

The freedom of knowing where I am is indescribable. I have this secret keeping a fire in my heart and I cannot do anything but enjoy it. I can't even share it, really. You can't give peace to someone, they have to find it. But a person can't find peace until they are ready for it. 

Just a few days ago, I thought these sort of words sounded snobbish and unkind, but today I don't think that's true. 

I don't write these words from a place of superiority, but from a place of surrender. I do not think that I am better than anyone- or when that thought fills my mind I quickly extinguish it. I do not think that I am wiser or stronger or more valuable a person than anyone else. I just am where I am, and they are where they are. There is no superiority in existence. 

And as far as wisdom goes, I know that I don't possess it. This isn't a work of wisdom, it's a pondering of ego and inner peace. Maybe sometimes wisdom graces me with insight or compassion, but I certainly don't hold wisdom in my every thought and word. What I believe is only as important as I am, no more, and I am no more important than anyone else, just as nobody else is more important than me. We are all just people trying to figure it out, trying to live another moment, to feel a little deeper, climb a little higher, catch our breath. We are all the same. 

I am so happy to have found my peace. 

Maybe inner peace is not for everyone, but I can't imagine why it shouldn't be. I hope that we all find this deep-seated peace inside of ourselves. I hope that you can look out at the sea of your emotions and know that, no matter how stormy the surface may appear, there is a pool of peace and serenity underneath that cannot be touched by the winds of the surface. 

There is a place inside of me that is paradise. That's my secret. The problem is, I can't really share it. I can say the words, but until you believe them and take the time to look, they are just a mess of lines you once looked at. And what constitutes inner peace for me could be entirely different from peace for you.

There is a place inside of me that is always perfectly warm, perfectly cool, still but with the slightest breeze. There is a place inside of me where all the love of the universe hums in absolute silence. There is a place inside of me more valid than any form of affirmation.

To get to this place, I just have to be quiet. Not with my mouth alone, but with my thoughts as well. It took some practice to be able to go there whenever I wanted to, but not as much as you'd expect. Mostly, it took love and lots of patience. I've got to be kind to myself in order to see this place. A candle helps. I like the kind with the flat wooden wick because it pops and crackles. It's comforting to me, easy to get lost inside. 

I sit in almost-darkness with my little candle and I take a deep breath... all the way in and all the way out. It's usually tight at first. I forgive my lungs for that and then I try again. A little deeper, out a little longer. And again. Again. Lost in my breath... I notice it in my nostrils, how it dances back out as I exhale. I imagine that I am this breath. In my mind, the breath is like a shimmery blue pixie, dancing life into my body. I imagine that I am the pixie, that I am overjoyed by the chance to bring life into this body and take away the toxins. I let the pixie's details fade into just a shimmery blue blur, and I allow myself to sink deeper and deeper. If my mind strays (it almost always does!), my pixie giggles and brings my attention back to her. I start again, from a place of gentle amusement. I tell myself I'm learning, it's okay to get distracted. 

Some days I don't ever reach the silent peace, but I thank myself for taking the time to notice my breath all the same, and I do still feel a bit calmer at the end of it all. 

Something I've realized is that my ego is a child. She wants love and attention. She wants to know her needs are going to be met. So I let her know that they will, that I hear her. I've learned that I can't just abuse her into silence, it won't work. I've got to truly love her. To find paradise, I've got to spend some time with Ego. But you know, once I got to know her, I realized she's not so terrible. She's funny and sweet, she just gets a little carried away sometimes. That's okay. 

In practicing this way, I've found a sense of security. I know that my progress, my peace is never lost because even when Ego just won't stop talking, I am okay. I accept that some days she just needs more attention than others, and I thank my deeper self for taking the time to provide Ego with the love and patience that she craves. 

In loving Ego, I've learned to love parts of myself I once shunned. I learned that I am not needy, I simply have needs. I am not annoying, I just need to slow down sometimes. Ego gets really worked up at the flip of a switch. My deeper self can hold her, rock her a little bit and reassure her that the idea will still be there in the morning if she really wants to explore it. My deeper self can tell Ego, "yes that does sound important, but right now we are brushing our teeth. Right now we are laying down to sleep, you need your rest, we'll talk first thing in the morning, I promise." 

Think about that. How safe would you feel if someone said those words to you while tucking you in safely? Ignoring your ego, shooing her away, getting angry when she interrupts... it just makes things worse. You can't scare her into submission. She's a part of you and she needs to know that you will not abandon her when you find yourself. She needs to know she's going to be taken care of. 

I think, in a lot of ways, Ego is the most prone to fear out of every part of who a person is. Think about how fragile an ego can be. Think about how terrible some peoples' tempers are. Ego is a fickle little thing, isn't she? She's like a toddler some days, you never know what will set her off. You live in fear of the next temper-tantrum, the next time she jumps off the deep end, the next fit she will throw wishing she were dead rather than sad/lonely/embarrassed/uncertain. Ego is a very proud little creature and pride is difficult to maintain. No wonder she's scared.

I've learned that you can't get rid of ego and you really can't control her entirely either. All you can do is love her. It's the same with people. All you can do is love them. You don't have to let them hurt you, but if you want them to be better you've got to love them in the best way you can. You've got to love little Ego. Make her feel safe. Establish boundaries with Ego so she knows which lines she can cross and which she cannot. For instance, Ego cannot stop me from my meditation, but if she is really struggling, she can still come sit with me.

Maybe after a long while practicing, I can set the boundary with a more mature version of ego that she is not to interrupt my meditation practice, but for now the boundary is simply that I am going to do my practice and she is not allowed to stop me from it. I will show up on that cushion every morning or every week, regardless of her kicking and screaming along the way. I will promise to listen to her when I am finished, but I will focus on my breath for a while each time I practice. That is my boundary. 

You can set boundaries with ideas. Ego can have as many ideas as she likes. She can be as sad, happy, angry, in love, and excited as she likes at any given moment. But I've learned that, if I want to succeed at anything, I need to set the boundary that I will not be acting on her ideas until thinking them over for an hour, a day, a month. I promise her I have heard the idea and that we will talk about it. I set a date with her, if it is still important to her in a week, we will think about it more. In a month, maybe we can act on it. Today, however, I am not signing up for three years of art school in Austria at my excitable ego's whim. That's my boundary. 

I've learned to set boundaries with her just for fun. The more you set and maintain boundaries, the more secure Ego feels. She will learn to trust you, and you won't feel so afraid of her. My ego knows that we are going to do dishes every day. Every single day. She hates doing the dishes. Sometimes, I let her choose the time. I trust myself to follow through and do them in the evening if that's what we agree to. But if she protests too much throughout the day, we do them immediately. Why spend an entire day dreading enforcing a boundary with my ego, when I could just do it and have it over with? It only feels dreadful until it's done.

 

I love my little Ego. I think she's cute and sweet and funny. She's creative and passionate and I think she's really beautiful. Freedom from trauma is nothing compared to freedom from fear of my Ego. I wish I could share this freedom with you. My roadmap might not be right for everyone, or for anyone at all, but maybe today is a good day to take a peek at your own ego. Do you already know what you will find?