For guys who tend to use only their “gut instinct” (like me), learning how to listen to our Self can be a giant leap forward. Talking to our big "S" Self can help guide us in everyday situations, including work and relationships, and also open us up to an entire galaxy of insights, wisdom, Truth, and ultimately, more questions about who we are.
So what is the "s" Self, and what is the "S" self?
Our "s" self is the ego — that part of us that drives us to succeed, set goals, and pursue worldly things like wealth, possessions, and status. Of course, these aren’t bad things — if we’re able to maintain a balance. In fact, we should credit the self with its incredible ability to drive ambition, vision, and achievement.
The "S" Self is the real you. The Self is the Truth. The Self is the stillness that exists when we're completely aware of the present moment, and connected to a higher realm of knowledge and understanding. When we begin to talk to the Self, a limitless potential opens up, giving us abilities and creativity that we didn't know existed. Balance between the self and the Self allows us to function on a high level in this world, and the worlds beyond.
Connecting with the Self is accessible through myriad methods, one of which is meditation. Meditation is an incredibly diverse practice, and the methods vary from simple — sitting and counting — to intricate — using the breath, energy channel, or mantra to gain access. Let's begin simply, because the truth is that most, if not all, these methods work.
As I mentioned in my last post, my introduction to meditation came when I stumbled into a Zen Buddhist temple. Zen Buddhism is a sect, or rather path, of Buddhism practiced mostly in Korea. Each path of Buddhism maintains core tenets like "The Middle Way," Non-Attachment, Impermanence, and the belief that "Life Is Suffering."
Zen Buddhists teach us a method of concentration meditation that simply asks us to sit, breathe, and count. Sounds easy, but for beginners, nothing can be scarier or more daunting sitting in one position with eyes closed and counting. We live in a world where even staying fully engaged with this article can be a challenge.
The Internet, work, family, and social life is constantly pulling at us, filling our minds with chatter and commanding us to please and stimulate our external senses.
Meditation worked for me, and helped me get a conversation started with my Self. What I didn't mention was that this took time, practice, and patience. And that wasn't always easy to find. During the week, I left at dawn, and came home at dusk. Several nights per week I would have dinner, drinks, and social engagements. On the weekends, I was usually completely booked, either catching up on errands or doing more socializing.
Then I decided to dive in.
I started by meditating at the temple once per week, in a group.
Practicing in a group is immensely helpful — to be still and quiet in a group setting nearly forces us to focus on stillness and the present moment. In concentration meditation we count each number as we breathe in and out, up to 27, or 54, or 108, and then back again. The number is not important, and it's not about reaching a goal. While we're counting, we picture our body as a mountain. Our thoughts are the clouds — they pass by, but we remain still.
The counting helps focus our minds — that part of our "s" self that is chattering all the time and diluting the stillness. When we lose count, no worries — we go back to zero and just begin again. Eventually, we find that the stillness lasts longer and longer. The more we practice, the more we find stillness, which leads us to our Self.
Start with this technique, once per week. Practice with your partner, friends, or in a Buddhist temple if you have access to one. Slowly begin to incorporate the technique into your weekly, or daily routine. Before rushing out of bed to check emails, sit, count, and breathe for five minutes. The results — finding longer lasting moments of stillness — will increase as you practice, and the conversation with your Self will tap you into a current of consciousness that provides many answers and insights.