This ego needs a laxative

Constipated energy causes problems.

I can’t lay claim to that wonderful observation, it came from my dear friend Allison as she tried to reassure me after a not-so-pleasant confrontation with my roommate this past weekend. The analogy couldn’t be more accurate.

I made what I thought was a reasonable request of my roommate: to move some boxes from the living room to a storage room. Sounds simple, right? The problem, however, isn’t so much the request, but the fact that the boxes had been sitting there for months and months, a fact I chose to ignore time and time again.

Each time I entered the living room, I saw the boxes and would get upset with them being there. But each time I purposely ignored the little voice inside my head that said to confront him. That voice was a clear impulse to action, urging me to address the issue before it became a real problem.

I wanted to keep the peace, so each time I turned a deaf ear to the impulse and hoped the situation would resolve itself. I didn’t stop there, however. I talked to my friends and family about it, I thought about it frequently and had a steady stream of daydreams about it. In turn, I was letting my negative reaction to the boxes become a big energy block.

I reached my limit when I discovered the boxes had multiplied in the past several weeks. Instantly, I felt energy draw up into my body, surging its way through my system as if I stuck my finger in a light socket. My face flushed and my heart raced. It was strong enough that I had to close my eyes for a moment before I could even think about my next move.

Thankfully, I was able to regain my senses and contain my anger long enough to finally talk to my roommate directly in a tactful and careful manner. I immediately felt better although I was a bit shaky. Without getting into detail, let’s just say that the situation went downhill from there.

The take away from this story is this: how unnatural and odd it felt to honor myself by taking action. It seemed as if I was taking back my power by standing up for myself, yet I felt worse than I had before the confrontation. Why?

Allison’s reassuring words put me at ease.

“Saying something, I think, is way better than saying nothing. It lets energy out, lets steam out. Constipated energy causes problems, so way to go,” she wrote in an email.

She is right, of course, and while I felt better about honoring myself, I had a new enemy to fight: my ego. For the next several hours, I was embroiled in a full-on battle with my thoughts and imaginations. I remained conscious enough to attempt—many, many times—to direct my thoughts in a more positive direction but each time my ego emerged the victor. Even when I was lucky enough to distract myself for a few moments by taking a walk or doing chores, I caught my imagination replaying the confrontation or dreaming up future arguments, none of which were honoring to my roommate or myself.

The challenge, of course, is that I didn’t act on the original impulse—the one that said, “You should talk to him about this before it gets out of hand.” Instead of taking action, I chose to internalize the problem, which my ego was then only too happy to grab a hold of and not let go. Each time I chose inaction, my ego became further attached and the problem (as well as my ego) got bigger and stronger.

Ignoring impulses leads to a degradation of spirit. Impulses come from deep within the inner self, pointing the way to effective outcomes. So when we choose to ignore the directions from the inner self, we trap constructive energy within the psyche where it leads to problems.

Damming up energy, such as emotions, can only go on for so long. Energy always seeks movement and release, so bottling it up causes pressure to build, stagnate and eventually erupt. As the energy builds, we may not always see it directly or acknowledge it, but it’s there, waiting for us to do something with it.

No prescription needed

As a result of all this, I’m proposing a slightly offbeat solution: an ego laxative. You don’t need a prescription and there are no pesky side effects. In fact, your spirit will actually be strengthened. You will, however, need to follow directions.

When presented with an impulse, honor it as much as possible. Impulses may appear strange, often presenting a confusing or undesirable path of action. But the action only appears undesirable because we’re conditioned to not trust our impulses. Or, we let our ego and intellect interfere and come up with a whole list of reasons why we shouldn’t act on the impulse.

Acting on impulses is honoring to the spirit, even if you don’t act on the first one, or second, or third. Those impulses are your soul’s way of saying “this is a good move for you” and it’s your job to take notice and do something with the information. When my roommate situation came to a head, I had the impulse to finally assert myself and take action. It was loud and clear. It may have taken some time for me to act, but I finally did and in the end was the best solution.

When we get in the habit of honoring our impulses, the ego relaxes. It comes to accept those messages form the inner self and in time begins to understand that they represent trusted, quality information. A soft, flexible ego is the goal and impulses are a way to get there.

Give yourself an ego laxative when you’re presented with an opportunity to act on an impulse even if it feels strange to do so. It takes practice but is very worthwhile in the end.

 

 

 

 

 

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The value of doing nothing

If I were in kindergarten, I would be crying. I was losing a real-world game of hide and seek and time was running out. Instead of looking for someone, however, I was looking for something. In this case, the right words to a book review I was trying to write for my blog. The words simply didn’t want to be found.

I put off the task for several days, hoping that my creative subconscious would work on the project while I attended to that little thing called life. I dutifully kept my normal schedule: work, chores, cooking and walking the dog, hoping I could sit down and knock out the review once it had time to brew in the back of my mind.

The longer I put it off, however, the harder it became. So I sat down, determined to write something—anything—to get started and still, the words would not come. What did appear was a realization that my creative block was deeper than it seemed on the surface. I wasn’t blocked; I was unmotivated, toward writing and toward life itself.

I could hypothesize all kinds of reasons for my lack of motivation: I had a busier than usual fall, working on a big writing project, wading through rivers of projects at work and dealing with a lot of personal change. Yes, all of these things can take a toll on the human spirit and they certainly did with mine. Yet a little voice kept nagging me to stop complaining, get moving, get writing and get on with my life.

After meditating, I decided to ignore that little voice. I poured myself a cup of coffee, sat down and did absolutely nothing for several hours.

Whose voice is that anyway?

The reason for ignoring the little voice in my head was simple: it was my ego. As he’s prone to do, my ego was feeling anxious about not completing the writing project. Hard work, attention to detail and deadlines are the handmaidens of the ego and he wanted to make sure I didn’t forget it.

It took me a few days to recognize the voice of the ego, but there were a few tell tale signs that helped me make a positive identification. Repeatedly, I was hearing a lot of “should” and “need to” statements coming from the voice. Things like, “you should really finish that book review,” or “You really need to be doing something with your blog,” or “You shouldn’t be slacking off right now.” I grew irritated with the voice.

The ego wants us to move forward, work and make sure that we are living up to the standards set by society, our families and our responsibilities. The ego doesn’t see the benefit of slacking off; instead, he takes us to task on completing our to-do lists.

After a little introspection, I was more than happy to ignore the ego this time.

Following impulses

Impulses toward action are a wonderful thing. Impulses come to us from deep in the soul and inner self, urging us to move in the direction of our fondest goals and desires. We tend to be distrustful of impulses, however, because they frequently seem foreign to the rational mind. When we don’t understand an impulse intellectually, we tend to dismiss it and miss an excellent opportunity for growth.

So if following impulses is a good thing, why was I having the impulse to do nothing? Why was my psyche telling me to sit one out, regroup, and let the world move on by for a few days? And why was I fighting it?

Inaction as action

This may be hard to digest, but the act of “doing nothing,” is actually “doing something.” We have simply conditioned ourselves to believe that we must constantly work toward some arbitrary goal or we’ll fail miserably at life.

While the intellect views inaction as wrong or lazy, the spirit looks at inaction as:

  • Replenishing the body and spirit
  • Allowing the inner self to come up with fabulous new ideas
  • Giving the universe the space and time to arrange details in our favor
  • Arranging events that are more advantageous or avoiding situations that are harmful

When to accept “doing nothing”

I won’t argue that it’s hard to accept “doing nothing” as a much-needed part of daily living. It’s easier to accept this notion on vacation and even then, “doing nothing” seems suspect. How do you know when it’s okay to do nothing?

Generally, it’s best to discover whether you’ve got the impulse to do nothing or if you are instead trying to avoid doing something. I’m referring here to procrastination, where the urge to “do nothing” or the urge to “do absolutely anything but” something is key. Procrastination is avoidance and you probably have a whole handful (or mindful) of reasons why you don’t want to do something.

Sit down, get quiet for a few moments and let go of thought. You’re trying to feel your way through this exercise. Let your body talk to you through feeling (emotional or physical) and intuition. What kinds of things do you discover?

When I did this exercise, I felt a slight fatigue in my body; but, more than anything, I had the urge to sit in my favorite chair. I didn’t feel the urge to read or write. There was no impulse to surf the Internet. My body told me it only wanted to sit and be still for a while. For how long, I didn’t know.

It did take a few hours for my ego to stop whining about my inactivity. I reassured him constantly about the benefits of this new plan and how much better life would be in the long run. After I truly gave in and relaxed into inactivity, I could feel a shift in my energy and in my enthusiasm.

Accepting the impulse toward inaction is important. It’s not the norm in society and your friends, family members and coworkers may chastise you for it. Your own ego may chastise you as well. However, it’s in the fighting of the impulse to do nothing where energy gets blocked and problems appear.

Reality Challenge™

Doing nothing can be a scary proposition. It can also be one of the most fulfilling things your soul can experience. This week, I invite you to look for–to feel for–times when your spirit is telling you to slow down and take a break. The same holds true for your body, as the impulse to rest is equally as important to the body as it is the spirit.

If you identify the impulse to do nothing, accept it. Remind your ego that you’re trying something new and to stop whining. Allow yourself the luxury to do nothing, at least as much as you can without “have to” responsibilities. Try it and feel for a shift. Your spirit may thank you.

 

 

 

Do what you love; love what you live

 

It’s a state of being most of us are unfamiliar with–that sublime experience of doing exactly what you love.

I’m not necessarily talking about a profession or a career. Instead, this is living from your intuitive and impulsive center. This is the freedom of allowing yourself to follow your gut and do those things that feel good. This is honoring yourself by taking a risk and trusting that your inner instincts will lead you to the most productive, inspirational and value-filled place possible.

Some would argue that you can’t trust that part of yourself, that voice that says, “I want to go to the beach and collect seashells.” But when you allow yourself the liberation of that voice and follow it through with action, you’re automatically affecting the world in positive ways. You may never know the value you’re bringing to the world with your “selfish” actions, but trust that you are benefitting the world and yourself by doing so.

A small but obvious example

A bee has the instinct to collect pollen and nectar. In many ways, he is inspired to do so and lives what he loves. He spends his days hopping from flower to flower to flower to feast on the delights of nature and share with his growing family. He delights in the task, not looking at it as a chore or survival, but because he wants to do so. In his exuberance, he is helping flowers pollenate and grow beyond their boundaries. In our example, he may actually help new flowers bloom several miles away. You may discover those flowers next year and appreciate their beauty, brightening your day. You may also use honey in your tea that was collected from the bee’s honeycomb. Several outstanding and necessary–positive–events out of one act of selfishness.

Not for artists and musicians alone

In our monetized society, we often mis-label musicians and artists as the only subsets of society that do what they love. “They’re the lucky ones,” we say, noting how they spend their days and nights engrossed in inspiration. We may secretly yearn for the same kind of existence, then quickly think to ourselves, “I could never do that. I’d never make a dime.”

Here’s the good news: doing what you love–whatever it is–helps both yourself and the world around you. Some people like to cook. Some people like to garden. Some people actually do enjoy things like analyzing spreadsheets or making speeches. When you enjoy your work or even your free-time activities, you’re setting into motion a wave of probabilities that positively affect the rest of the universe.

It’s when we cut ourselves off from our inspirational love that things start to sour. Doing things because we “have to” or “need to” may be a necessity for many of us (like trying to make a living) but we need to see that when we move out of that mindset, we actually open the door to new opportunities. It’s a scary thought for most of us to simply do what we’re inspired to do every minute of the day. Our ego-based minds can’t understand how that could possibly lead to anywhere good.

Small steps

So instead of quitting your job or walking out on your family, try a smaller experiment. Allow yourself the freedom to do whatever you want for 30 minutes a day. Set aside time to do this and don’t schedule anything during that special time. In the moment, ask your inner self, “what do I want to do right now, that would make me happy and feel good?” If you’re inclined to plug in your iPod and play air guitar in the basement, go ahead! If you want to take that walk on the beach and collect sea shells, go ahead! If you’re inspired to take a nap, that’s okay too. The point is to start allowing your ego some flexibility and helping it understand that following your passions will lead to success.

As a society, we’ve trained ourselves to mistrust our inner urges. We use our intellect and ego to destruct all of the reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t do something. We believe that we’ll do something harmful to ourselves or others. This is why it’s important to start training (or re-training) our conscious thoughts into allowing the fulfillment of spontaneous impulses. Even if it’s just for a structured time of the day, you’ll soon realize how liberating it can be.

Trust

This process, this trust in the self and the universe, is key to the theory of fulfillment. You may never know or understand how following your inner inspiration leads to the fulfillment of others, but it’s important to have the trust that it does. Our own individual and collective impact on the world is staggering and is too difficult to describe. So accepting the theory that you are impacting the world in positive ways can help release your ego and allow it to turn to the creative pursuits you desire.

When you feel one of those impulsive hits, think of our friend the bee. Stop your inner watchdog for just a moment and allow yourself to emotionally feel what it would be like to allow your impulse. Even if you can’t engage in your activity right then and there, make yourself a promise to do so when you have time. Stop for a moment, close your eyes and emotionally feel how good it will be to engage the impulse. Trust it, trust the desire and trust that you’re inner self is speaking to you in clear language.

You, and the universe, will be glad you followed through.

What’s pulling you in the right direction?

My dog Bloo is a bit headstrong. And nowhere is this more evident than when we are on a walk. When we first step out the door, his excitement is always evident, as he pulls me down the driveway, running to experience the world outside. And as I watched him on our walk today, I realized how faithfully he follows one of the best spiritual practices: he follows his interests.

For Bloo, those interests involve investigating particular smells and sights. Every few yards he locks down and puts his nose to the ground, uncovering information on what dogs and other wild animals have been nearby. Similarly, when he sees a dog or person he wants to meet, he immediately starts heading in their direction. And of course, whenever he does these things, he pulls heavily on the leash, not caring that my hand and arm are attached. He acts not only on instinct, but also on impulse—just the way we need to approach life.

As humans, we’ve conditioned ourselves out of following our impulses. Fear, obligation, duty and a lack-of-trust are responsible for this phenomenon. How many times a day do you feel the urge to do something, only to tell yourself instead, “I should be doing that”? Over time, those “shoulds” build up a cloudy haze over our natural impulses and leave us feeling spiritually opaque.

A return to impulse seeking is necessary for finding purpose and meaning in our lives. Natural impulses are directly tied into our own best interests, yet most people believe that following them is akin to distraction or, worse, that allowing those interests will lead to destruction or dead-end.

It’s important to know where impulses come from so that we can learn to trust and follow them regularly. Impulses are sent to our conscious mind from the inner self. The inner self is the part of you that is connected to All That Is–the cosmic framework that connects everything in the universe and beyond. Your inner self resides in this framework and has at its disposal all of the information needed to move you in the right direction. It knows how to piece together and orchestrate all of the minute details of any given situation so that you reach fulfillment.

It’s the intellect and the ego that put the breaks on impulses. The ego is that part of you that allows you to interact in the physical world. Its job is to be the watchdog of daily living, keeping you conscious of your environment and giving you the flexibility to react to circumstances as they arise. The intellect tries to make sense of your daily life and shares information with the ego to determine what it considers to be your next steps.

The ego and the intellect are not built to process more information than they can comfortably handle. They must be given information in bits and pieces from the inner self so as to not overload the mind. The inner self acts as a director and decides which pieces are important enough to cause the ego and the intellect to respond effectively.

But two things have happened to man that prevent impulses from taking center stage. First, our egos have become hardened. The ego now thinks that it must protect the body and conscious mind at all costs. It believes it has all the answers and has trained itself right out of alignment with the inner self. Likewise, the ego overreacts to negativity and therefore believes that any “bad” situation is bound to get worse. In this hardened state, it has a hard time distinguishing between “good” and “bad” and assumes the worse.

Second, our intellect stands in the way of information that comes from the inner self. This is a result of our modern society. We are trained from an early age to ignore or invalidate information that comes from non-traditional sources, such as intuition, “hunches,” dreams or the imagination. A once crystal clear bolt of information from the inner self is then deemed invalid by the intellect and subsequently dismissed.

Modern spiritualists often call for the annihilation of the ego, claiming that it must be destroyed in order to connect with the divine. This is, of course, an overreaction but we must learn to make the ego and intellect flexible again if we want to return to a life of purpose and meaning.

The process begins by recognizing when you are fueled by something and then allowing yourself to act on that impulse to the best of your ability. This must be done throughout the day, whenever such impulses arise. Often people beginning this journey deduce that impulses must be gigantic and clearly defined before acting. This isn’t so. It starts with small, sometimes even hazy feelings of interest to pique the conscious mind into action.

What interests you? What excites you? Quite frankly, what sounds better in any given situation? Would you rather go take a walk or re-grout the bathtub? It takes a conscious awareness of your choices to then make a decision based on how you feel in the moment. If you feel good, excited or even just “moved” in a particular direction, you’re allowing the sensation of an impulse to take hold. When you become aware of that sensation, take action.

This is a learning process and, like everything else, you must learn to follow your impulses within the framework of your own beliefs (see my blog post on beliefs for more information). Before you decide to chuck work for the day and take that walk, it might be better to start with smaller decisions that you can implement at a more open time. Then, as you become comfortable with the process, you can ease yourself into bigger decisions such as changing jobs or starting a relationship.

Like a dog on a walk, your inner self is guiding you—sometimes gently and sometimes forcefully—toward beneficial, positive actions that help you find your purpose and meaning in life. The trick is to let go of the leash and allow your inner self to take you to new and exciting areas.

Everything is well: intuitive hits through impulses

Part of Honoring Your Spirit is to fully understand that we are multidimensional beings. Not everything that happens can be rationally explained with hardcore facts and figures. It’s one thing to intellectually understand that we are multidimensional and another to experience it, even if it’s just a small, slight example.

Last week I was feeling a bit anxious that I hadn’t heard from a friend of mine in an online discussion group. Allison and I talk frequently and usually exchange emails at least a few times a day. There are days where we don’t hear from one another, so I was intrigued with my anxiousness this time. As I thought about it, I “concluded” that my intellect and ego were getting the better of me, that there really wasn’t anything to be concerned about. She was probably just enjoying the weekend or had gone somewhere with her husband. No big deal.

On Tuesday, I finally received communication from Allison. She wrote to me, and some others, that on Monday afternoon she went to lunch with some friends. They were each headed shopping afterward and as Allison pulled on to the highway, her car spun out on the wet road. She hit a concrete barrier and smashed both the rear and passenger sides of the car. She was unhurt but her car was un-drivable. To her credit, and as a testament to her spiritual development, she refocused herself and went about her day.

All of us in our discussion group were happy to hear from her and even happier to hear that she was safe and unhurt. I wrote to her about my feeling “strange” that I hadn’t heard from her and also owned up to my thought that it was primarily ego driven. Then, later that day I get an email from her:

“Chris—you shared this before you knew about my accident!!!??? WTF?? I am astonished.”

The email was a notification from Facebook stating that I had posted something on her wall. I honestly didn’t remember what I had sent so I clicked on it. Then, I vividly remembered.

On Monday afternoon, I was surfing Facebook and saw a video on a friend’s wall. The video link was written in Russian, so I had no real idea of what the it was about. I clicked and watched. It was a short clip of a security camera capturing a car accident and the near miss of a pedestrian who was nearby. In the clip, two cars collide and narrowly miss a man standing by the side of the road. Even the debris caused by the collision roars toward the man, yet he is able to step away without one bit of metal hitting him. I thought how many people would view the clip and think, “wow, he was really lucky!” Not me, I looked it and thought, “Wow, he really does live in a safe universe.”

I thought of my friend Allison and decided to post the link on her Facebook wall. In the comments section (remember, the video title is written in Russian), I wrote, “You are protected.” I thought the clip was an excellent reminder that we are always safe and protected by the universe when we believe that we are. Then, I went about my day.

We were both astonished. I had unknowingly posted a video of a car accident to her wall with the headline, “you are protected.” The post probably came a few hours after her accident. Yet I hadn’t communicated with her in days and she didn’t tell me about the accident until the day after.

The skeptical person would simply chalk this up to circumstance. Yet for those of us studying the nature of reality, it really speaks volumes. When you break it down, it’s actually a very small—but concrete—example of the way ESP works. Somehow I had unconsciously picked up on her accident and gave her a reminder about being protected by the universe. The experience is reassuring on some levels. Primarily, it’s easy to read about instances of ESP yet harder to know when you’ve actually had an intuitive hit.

The entire episode became a great tool in our discussion group. It turns out that many of us were anxious about not hearing from Allison yet most of us were cautious about sharing that anxiety.

In hindsight what strikes me most is the fact that the entire video post was so normal, non-monumental. The original post was from an acquaintance, not a good friend. I normally wouldn’t have clicked on a link on his page. So what made me do it this time? When I watched the clip, I immediately thought of Allison yet it wasn’t because I felt that she was in danger, it only seemed to be a nice reminder to us both about living in a safe universe. Also, I had thought so little about the post that I forgot the entire incident until she emailed me about it.

Intuition comes from the inner self, that part of us that’s tuned into the universe and has access to information our conscious mind does not. Intuitional energy is usually very subtle. Most people would describe intuitive hits as a general feeling of “knowing” or feel the energy sensation in the solar plexus. What most people don’t realize, however, is that intuition is constantly leading us in positive directions through impulses. “Turn here now,” “I think I’ll call Jill,” “I’m going to run out and get a cup of coffee.” Those are all, on the surface, innocuous parts of our daily lives. But when we tune into them and allow them, we’re actually following our impulses.

The problem comes from ignoring impulses, which we have been conditioned to do in today’s world. On their own, impulses can sometimes seem out of place and therefore not worthy of information from an official source. Learning to recognize, accept and trust your impulses is a key in honoring your spirit, as the intuitive knowledge they contain is extremely valuable.

Through this small example, I was able to see that the impulse to share a video was actually a sign that I had tapped into what was happening with a friend. Subconsciously I knew she was all right even though my conscious mind and ego were thinking differently. Learning to discern and work with these two different facets of ourselves can lead us in exciting and fulfilling directions.