Moving Past the Ego Mind

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The mind is a wonderful tool for thinking, but it has a dark side. There is an aspect of the mind that is not useful but pretends to be useful, which is called the egoic mind. It is the aspect of our mind that chats with us as we move about our day. It is the "voice in our head," as Eckhart Tolle calls it. Much of the time, this voice seems like our own thoughts and our own voice, and we often express these thoughts (e.g., "I love doing that!" "I can't wait until tomorrow." "I wonder what will happen if....."). At other times, this voice is like the voice of a parent or other authority figure (e.g., "You should try harder." "You never do anything right."). We tend to take this voice seriously - we believe it, agree with it and don't question it. We believe it because we are wired to believe our own thoughts, regardless of whether they are true and helpful or not. 

Not only do we believe these thoughts, but we believe they are "ours." We identify with them - we feel they reflect who we are. We don't tend to question our own thoughts, although we readily question other people's thoughts, especially if those thoughts are different from ours. But when we stop and examine what this voice is saying, we discover a lot of contradictory advice, judgments and other negativity. This mental voice is often unkind, fearful, self-doubting and unhelpful. 

It turns out that the voice in our head is not a very good guide to life, and yet we tend to accept what it says and do what it suggests. This voice, in fact, is the cause of much of our suffering. It is the voice of the false self - the ego - not the true self. The thoughts that arise in our mind cause every negative emotion we experience: fear, guilt, anger, jealousy, envy, hopelessness and depression. Without these thoughts, we would live in peace within ourselves and in harmony with others. 

The funny thing is that we can see the truth about the egoic mind and still be entranced by it - still be mesmerized by it. The conditioning to pay attention to and believe this aspect of the mind is very strong, and it takes not only seeing the truth about it, but also a practice (like meditation) of not giving our attention to this voice before we gain enough distance from it to experience freedom and the joy and peace of our true self.

The reason for moving out of the egoic mind and into the present is to experience who we really are. Who you really are has nothing to do with any of ideas, feelings about yourself, or stories you tell about yourself. Your true self is the experience of yourself existing in this moment, free of such constructs, stories, and self-images.

To experience your true self you have to move out of your self-images and thoughts about yourself into the experience you are having right here and now absent from thoughts which obscure who you really are. We become entranced by our thoughts and overlook reality - the real experience we are having here and now. The egoic mind, however, doesn't want you to stop paying attention to it, so it continually tries to engage your attention. It persists because this is how the false self is maintained. If you stop paying attention to your thoughts, this false self disappears, and all that's left is the real you. 

The more we bring our focus into the present moment and onto our actual experience (as opposed to focusing on our thoughts), the more we experience the joy of who we are. After all, at our core, we are all loving and joyous beings. It is only identification with the egoic mind that makes us feel and act otherwise. 

Sachi Doctor

Elemental Alchemy, 90 Rio Vista Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94611

Sachi Doctor is an Ayurvedic practitioner and holistic health coach who founded Elemental Alchemy with the mission to provide a resource for those navigating their way towards optimal mind-body health.

Diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at a young age, Sachi has spent over twenty years exploring different health modalities, treatment plans, diets and mindfulness practices to help alleviate chronic pain and restore balance.

After years of looking to others for a model of health with no relief, Sachi realized that the answers she sought were not hidden in someone else’s prescription for wellness but unique to her, and that the first step towards discovery was actually tuning out what was right for others and tuning into herself.

As she tapped into the wisdom of her own body, she discovered that the elements foundational for health  — the blueprint she so fervently sought — was within her, within each of us. Since then Sachi has been passionate about helping others also cultivate clarity and inner wisdom for vibrant health.

In addition to her Ayurvedic and nutrition education, Sachi has completed over 800 hours of yoga teacher training and continues to study with her mother, her first yoga teacher, for whom these practices are a way of life.

Sachi is a board member of the Prison Yoga Project at San Quentin State Prison and serves as an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back, a non-profit that raises funds within the US yoga community to support microcredit programs for women in India. She holds a Msc in Development from the London School of Economics.