I often speak of the importance of developing some sort of daily practice. The daily practice is defined as a regular time set aside every day within which to consciously ground and connect with Source. It is different for each person. There is not a right or wrong way to do it. We simply go about finding a medium of connection that works well for us and then commit to it. It is not unusual to go through many and various “techniques” as our interests change and evolve over time. Whether it be through prayer, chanting, movement, journaling, art, yoga, meditating with mantra or Zen sitting, the form it takes is not as important as the conscious intention behind the practice. Daily practice is an active attempt to discipline a mind that is otherwise ruled by an ego run rampant. What we are practicing is the ability to bring ourselves into the present moment and that is only possible if the mind is quiet. In order to shush the mind the ego must be temporarily suspended. The only way to accomplish that is by bringing ourselves fully into the present moment.
The ego cannot rule in the now.
According to *Eckhert Tolle, an author who speaks from enlightened consciousness, the ego is the mind’s invention. Originating out of a history long gone, the ego is actually a corrupt definition of who we are. Mostly this limited version of self is based on lies we bought in childhood derived from our own interpretation of things we heard said and implied by those closest to us. The ego is a sort of mental “entity” that holds us captive with its endless “running on about nothing”. It sees itself as king but in fact it is a runaway servant. It’s real place in our psyche is to serve the Higher Self, but more often it robs us of the present moment by keeping us fixated on past or future, constantly looking to reinforce a false idea of who we are. It demands constant feeding., seeking food through comparison with others and an intense need to be right. Ego is only interested in perpetuating its particular drama even at the cost of great pain to itself and others. Verification of its often victim storyline is what matters to ego most. Ego is that part of us that right now is running a commentary on these words or that steals us away from this moment by reminding us of our failures or insignificance. On the contrary it can also act as the voice that says we know more or are better than anyone else.
The ego can only live in the past or future. It is completely out of its element in this moment and therefore is constantly looking to carry us back into our past or off into the “what ifs” of someday. If the truth be told, the ego cannot survive in this moment. There is no food for it here. It’s diet consists of made up stories of unfairness and what shoulda/coulda been — the reality of this moment lacks the dramatic flair ego prefers. Here, in this moment, there is no problem for it to “fume about” or “fix” and thereby feed itself on. It cannot thrive here and now.
Our ego identity is formed from early childhood experiences and memories. We become unconsciously attached to the resulting storyline that tells us not only who we’ve been but who we will be in the future. This story shapes our ego and the ego perpetuates our storyline. It’s job is to constantly reinforce this limited definition of self by reminding us of or make excuses for our shortcomings. We then take our story and recreate it anew over and over again. In other words we splash the past all over our present moment. Having ruined this moment, our ego then focuses on the future as our only hope for a better life.
When we look through the lens of our past woundedness it makes it impossible to live in the present moment. Even more important, we have forgotten that the NOW is the only place that Source resides. ONLY in this moment can we find connection with Source because the present is all there really is! Concepts of past and future are man-made fabrications that simply keep our minds churning out a false and unreal depiction of the world. As long as we let our minds run on in past/future fantasy we cannot be present in real life right now. The NOW is the ONE AND ONLY REALITY.
Living in the here and now is how we achieve the “Kingdom of Heaven” in this life. The Bible speaks of the Kingdom as the place we, as believers, will someday get to go. I see the Kingdom of Heaven as a state of consciousness attainable and available for us now – this very moment. In that state we live moment to moment in living connection and communion with Source. The main requirement is that we get here — in the now — awake to this moment, rather than off chasing thoughts past or future. That is the goal of a daily practice – to take back ourselves from the ego that imprisons us. By focusing our attention through breath and conscious awareness on the practice we have chosen as a vehicle into NOW, we achieve the Kingdom. We learn how to extend our daily practice into our day. Slowly our day, each living moment, is absorbed into our daily practice because whatever we do is done with full attention and consciousness. Our ultimate goal is to achieve the ability to be so present every moment that we no longer require a formal daily practice. We are no longer caught up in the old story of self. We have become our practice. We are simply vibrant and alive this moment, free of a past with no need for promises of a better tomorrow. We are here — now — actively living this very moment.
This is what we set out each day to achieve — the quieting of the ego through some sort of practice that will help bring us into the present where the Presence of Source can be felt and known.
*Eckhert Tolle; “The Power of Now”