Everyone has what I call “the three minds.” They are the ego (lower/reactive mind), the witness and the divine or intuitive mind. The ego is the aspect of mind that judges, criticizes, complains, compares itself to others, that is, it is either better than or worse than someone else and the ego always needs to defend itself. Most everyone spends the majority of his or her time participating in this level of consciousness to their detriment. I‘d like to share with you today, how to recognize the ego at work in your life and by recognizing the ego at work you begin to release yourself from it. The results are better relationships and better overall wellbeing.

Everyone has witnessed at one time or another, a very big dog practically dragging his owner down the street. This is how the ego or reactive mind behaves…like a big ill-behaved dog. Watching the owner of such a dog, it is clear that the owner has forgotten who is in charge. It is well known that dogs are pack animals, and that they view their human families as the pack. If an owner of a dog does not establish him/herself as the alpha or leader of the pack, the dog will assume that role. In our analogy, the ego or reactive mind is this dog that has established itself as the leader, and you are the owner. With meditation and mindfulness practices you re-establish your role as the alpha by yanking on the chain and getting your dog/ego to behave. The vast majority of people are being dragged all around town by their big bad dogs. What this means is that when we are being led around by reactive thinking we are not in control of our lives. We are always seeking perfection and wholeness in the past or the future. In other words we have left the search for meaning in our lives up to a dog to dig it up. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the dog, this is an inefficient and stressful way to live. This is why we meditate; this is why we practice mindfulness, to re-establish ourselves as the leader of our lives rather than a haphazard participant. The goal of every life ultimately is to find who we are beyond the material world, beyond the ebb and flow of our thoughts, and beyond the roles we play. To connect to that place or that space of self beyond the world is heaven on earth, it is love, it is perfection.

Following is my favorite mindfulness practice that will help you to focus and merge with the state of love and perfection…it is the simple practice of listening.

  • Choose at least one person today and listen to that person without thinking about what you’re going to say next. The practice is to keep your mind completely focused on the other person.
  • When a thought or an idea arises and you are ready to interrupt to share your big insight, don’t. Just bring your focus back to the listener, and answer only when asked or when they have finished speaking. What will arise will come not from your reactive mind, but from the depths of your Self.
  • Listening in this way connects you with the other person on the level of Being rather than on the level of ego. This connection brings you into a state of heightened awareness and centeredness and it honors the other person as yourself. In this space there may even be a feeling of oneness or love that arises.
  • Your homework for the month of December is to do this practice every day for two weeks with someone that you already feel affection for, and then do it everyday for two weeks with someone whom you dislike.
  • Journal your experiences and feelings.


Photo Credit: JJ Ying