“When we remove ego, we’re left with what is real.” Read: Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday
Redefining Our Identities with and without Psychedelics
Ego death, or as Jung called it, “psychic death,” is also called “ego loss.” It signifies the complete loss of subjective identity. In Jungian theory, this precedes a rebirth into a new identity. Timothy Leary coined the term “ego loss” in regard to LSD experiences. Ego death is the second stage In Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. Ego death in Buddhism is related to understanding one’s true nature, (not mistaking the rope for the snake), which leads to a permanent awakening from ego fixation (one will never mistake the rope for the snake once it is seen to be a rope).
Psychotherapy and psychedelics both assist in helping redefine identity. Psychotherapy focuses on ego defenses and issues stemming from identification with the ego and its journey to wholeness, while ayahuasca can loosen the strict boundaries of self-perception and allow other information and perspectives in, introducing a new dimension of healing.
From Panic to Peace – Smiling Your Way Through Fear
Thich Nhat Hanh calls his practice of yes “smile yoga.” He suggests bringing a slight but real smile to our lips many times throughout the day, whether we are meditating or simply stopping for a red light. “A tiny bud of a smile on your lips,” writes Thich Nhat Hanh, “nourishes awareness and calms you miraculously. . . your smile will bring happiness to you and those around you.”
The power of a smile to open and relax us is confirmed by modern science. The muscles used to make a smile actually send a biochemical message to our nervous system that it is safe to relax the flight, fight or freeze response. A smile is the yes of unconditional friendliness that welcomes experience without fear.
Smiling can be the trigger that switches us from operating under the power of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Our body is designed to be in the state of rest and digest most of the time, but there are too many stressful things in our life to keep our body to stay in the fight or flight mode.
Why is smiling important? Smiling not only offers a mood boost but helps our bodies release cortisol and endorphins that provide numerous health benefits, including:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Increased endurance
- Reduced pain
- Reduced stress
- Strengthened immune system
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
Good Genes are Nice, But Joy is Better
Robert Waldinger is a Zen priest and leader of the longest-running study of human happiness. He has found that science and Buddhism agree on what makes life happy and meaningful.
Waldinger is also a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard University and director of the famed Harvard Study of Adult Development. It’s perhaps the longest-running study of adult life ever conducted. For seventy-five continuous years, it has tracked the lives of 724 men in order to understand what makes for a healthy, happy life. Now it’s following the next generation, as it tracks the lives of the original subjects’ children and their families.
Harvard study, almost 80 years old, has proved that embracing community helps us live longer, and be happier.