• Hila Naftali

The spiritual path: What does it mean? Why is meditation essential? Why is the ego important?



The spiritual path: What does it mean? Why is meditation essential? Why is the ego important? Why can you never get rid of the ego?

In recent years spirituality has been trending on social media, and as a result there are a lot of nonsensical assumptions about what it means to live a spiritual Life. Needless to say, everyone is entitled to their view on spirituality. For me, it means first and foremost understanding the simplicity of life through experiencing my own spirit. In other words, understanding that I am aware, that there is a spirit inside of me, and that life itself is not restricted to the physical body but rather goes way beyond it. This is something you must experience within yourself. No one, not even the Dalai Lama, can experience it for you and then tell you about it.

This is where meditation comes in. Meditation means pausing to sit, walk, or lie down with yourself in order to feel what is present within you. What remains when thought is gone, when the mind calms down, when the body relaxes?

What remains is the only thing that is ever present: awareness. But, again, do not take my word for it. Remember, you must experience it to know. There are no shortcuts.

This is where the ego comes in. The ego is the concept we have formed of ourselves over the years and the way society expects us to behave. The ego has so many concepts, labels, and ideas that in most cases, it is not possible to become instantly aware of them. Awareness is key here. It is not about releasing the ego completely, because as long as you occupy a body and a mind that are limited, the ego will pop up eventually. Rather, it is about becoming aware of the ego every minute of every day, so that you can loosen the grip it has on you and live a conscious life that fills your heart with light. It means shifting control from the ego to awareness, thus becoming aware that the ego will do anything to take back control. This is where some gurus and spiritual teachers fail. There are some who believe that they have no ego anymore, but then the ego takes charge in an instant, and they start claiming power and abusing their position.

Remember, the ego is always there, and that's fine. Once you fully accept this, it is easier to notice its presence. An open heart means full acceptance and allowing softness into your life. The ego is like a small child that does not understand boundaries and personal responsibility. So, when you learn to set strong but kind boundaries, it will try less to take charge. Therefore, meditation is so important. Pause, breath, check your awareness, open your heart, feel your body from the inside. Learn to take a moment to feel what is present.

Awakening: What does it mean? Awakening is the realization that you are not your ego, your mind, your emotions or your thoughts. You are the one that is aware of and can observe them.

How do you wake up?

For everyone it is different, but it usually happens through immense struggle and pain. For me it happened after my suicide attempt at the age of fifteen. My ego was done with me, and the thoughts of self-hatred and never-ending pain were just too much. I was lost in endless suffering, or at least that is what my ego wanted me to think. The immense mental pain I felt woke me up, and I was lucky enough that nothing happened to me, and I am still alive. I felt incredibly lonely as a child, so for me awakening was simply a question of living or dying.

Today, I know that I am awareness/spirit/consciousness. I know because I experience it every day. No one has told me this. I have never had a guru, nor do I feel the need to follow one. I have never thought that flying to India would enlighten me. That is all ego.

Today, I am profoundly grateful that I can help people on their journey, and I am aware that this journey is not for everyone. That is why I always say to anyone who walks through my door, "I can only offer you the spiritual path of psychology and yoga because that is what I believe in. If this path is calling to you, pursue it, and if not, that's fine too. But remember, the spiritual path is not something you can fake. If you try to fake it, it is again the ego that is in the driver's seat."

I have had many great teachers over the years. Some believed more in science, some more in spirit. Others, like me, believed in both. What I love are teachers who are aware of their ego and would never ever say that they do not have one. All say that right here and now the ego is not in charge, but maybe in the next minute it will be. Who knows?

Awareness! If you want to find good teachers, look for those that are aware that the ego cannot be released completely. Look for those that practice themselves. If your teacher is not practicing, then awareness most likely has taken a back seat. For in awareness, we are always both teachers and students. I am always a student of life and I learn from everyone and everything around me every day. I believe in what I practice and teach because awareness healed me when nothing else could. I am aware that the ego sometimes provokes me. I accept it and love myself and everything through this. Remember, love is your superpower because it is the doorway to awareness. That is why we always begin with self-love first.

THANK YOU AND NAMASTE!

Hila Naftali