Do you know that there are two you’s? One is the personality you which is a name that is attached to a physical form, with a unique emotional makeup and intellectual characteristics. The personality you is the ego.
The ego arises out of your identification with the body, emotions and thoughts.
The other is the changeless inner witness that is aware of all the changes that the ego goes through.
The witness you is ever peaceful and calm. Like the ocean depths that are unaffected by the stormy waves at its surface, the witness you remains untouched by what the ego you goes through. Happiness is its essential nature. (Read Who is the Inner Witness?)
The inner witness is your true self, the real you.
You may wonder, why can’t the ego be the real you? Your personality can’t be the real you because which you would you consider to be real? If you consider your real self to be what your body looks like at this moment, along with your present emotional and intellectual conditions, it will soon be replaced by another you that looks, feels and thinks differently tomorrow. You’ll never find one true, unchanging personality you.
The inner witness is real because it never changes. It has remained constant throughout the many experiences you have gone through in all the various stages of your life. It is present right now as you read this page and will continue to be present for the rest of your life.
Shift your identification
The ego you suffers and enjoys in life because you take yourself to be your changing body and mind and identify with things and beings around.
The key to inner peace lies in shifting your identification from the changing ego to the unchanging, serene inner witness.
But this is easier said than done. We live our lives so completely immersed in our ego and our egocentric concerns that we forget the presence of the peaceful inner self.
Here are three simple ways to go beyond your ego and consequently, the stress, fear and worry associated with it.
Slow down and be aware of your breathing: Slowing down, taking a little break to sit and do some deep breathing will bring you into the present moment and offer you some mental space to remember that you are the inner witness. It will also enable you to view the situation you are in better and gain some ideas on the next steps to take.
The following is the breathing technique that can help you to tune inwards: Take a slow, deep breath in, filling in your entire lungs. Hold it for a second or two, and then slowly breathe out. Hold the breath out for a second or two before slowly breathing in again.
The two small pauses after you breathe in and breathe out suspend your thoughts and quieten your mind. You will gain a little distance from your egocentric concerns and they will not appear to be as overwhelming.
To further release the stress, you can mentally chant words such as “relax” and “release” and synchronise them with your breathing. Breathe in and mentally say, “reee. . .” breathe out and say, “laaax.” You can do the same by mentally chanting, “reee. . .” “lease.”
Affirm your identity with your true self: This technique works well if you do it right after the breathing technique described above. Remind yourself that you are the inner witness, unaffected, peaceful and calm. Mentally affirm the qualities of your true nature with statements such as:
“My fears and worries are simply thoughts that are attached to my ego. They are not me. I am the untouched witness of them all.”
“I am the unattached, peaceful witness of the thoughts in my mind.”
“I am ever pure, never tainted by the concerns of my ego.”
While breathing deeply, practice gently nudging your awareness away from the thoughts to the witness of the thoughts. By doing this over and over again, you will find that your mind becomes relatively quiet. This practice dilutes your ego.
Now, what if you have an especially busy mind and a tenacious ego? No amount of breathing or affirmations seem to be working. What can you do next?
The answer lies in the most transformative power in the world—the power of prayer.
Surrender your concerns in prayer: When the stress associated with the roles and responsibilities of the ego personality seem overwhelming, prayer is the best answer.
Sincere prayer for help directed to any expression of the Divine that you feel connected to is a most powerful practice. On your own, you may feel overwhelmed by a particularly difficult situation. You may struggle to stay positive and keep your emotions balanced.
But when you surrender in prayer with all sincerity and firm faith, the divine power does its magic to transform you from within.
You can read more about why and how to pray in Who answers our prayers?
An on-going discipline
Understanding the ego is the first step to going beyond it to reach the depths of peace and happiness within yourself.
Turning your attention away from the ego and placing it inward is an on-going spiritual discipline. As you practice being more and more mindful of your real self, it will begin to fill your life with its serene glow.
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