Centuries have passed with metaphysicians and theologians exploring our minds and asking important questions as to how we think and what moves us to action. Yet we as humans get caught up in our daily routines and activities and fall back into Egoic Mind games and traps. Mindlessly letting our little “ego self” take the reins and guide our behavior.
Self-Inquiry is as old as man himself. Why is it that we have to question our own minds? The answer is: it’s because we can, and we do. The frontal cortex “executive” function relates to personality expression, decision making, differentiating among conflicting thoughts, future consequences of current activities, predicting outcomes, expectations based on actions and more. In humans, the entire cerebral cortex is much larger in proportion to body size to any other mammal and may provide humans with added cognitive abilities. This can be a blessing and a curse.
Walking the Tiger: Live now, instead of reliving
Peter Levine in his book, “Waking the Tiger”, explains what happens in the human mind when trauma occurs. Unlike other mammals who will release the anxiety immediately by jumping up and running, or by taking action in such a way to remove themselves from harm, the human becomes trapped in the endless ruminating over the event or the episode that took place at a different time and place.
Peter Levine’s book helps us learn to move beyond trauma by engaging the bodily process that should have happened, rather than merely reliving what happened.
When we get trapped in the rumination, the egoic mind relives the event as if it just happened. The ego rushes in to “make sense” of the situation. It’s job is to create a story of what happened and what to do about it. Sometimes this process is very important, the problem is that the ego does not differentiate between events and thoughts that need structure and emotions and thoughts that need to be felt and then forgotten.
The Core Wound
The trap is always related to a core wound. The core wound typically arises in childhood when we are exposed to a continual concept of pain and hurtfulness. Maybe it’s not being heard, or maybe it’s not feeling loved, or maybe it’s never having enough. When an event or conversation in the present triggers this wound, we become trapped in the “egoic rescue” process. The ego says, “What’s happened here, who is to blame, what action will be taken.” The answer to these questions will tell you a lot about yourself and how you are operating.
Freedom in Awareness
The freedom from this Egoic Mind Trap is in the awareness that it exists. Slowing
down enough to take self-inventory each and every day allows us to “catch” ourselves when we resort to the crazy monkey mind, then endless sand pit. Once we see that we are experiencing the trap we can shift through meditation, journaling, mantra, breath. We can open the door to what I call the “Golden Claim” which is the opposite of the ego trap. So if I feel that I am not being appreciated, I turn my focus to “What can I do to appreciate others?” What action can I take, how can I activate appreciation. When we decide to not revel in the hurt but rather to empower ourselves with the Golden Claim, we begin to fill our lives with the very thing we thought we lacked.