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Re-working your ego by expanding your self-concept (AKA: Van Halen therapy)

In a situation where your self-concept doesn’t believe you can meet & solve a challenge, you can do one of two things. You can give up, or you can change your idea of yourself, making it one that can work with what is presenting

Dear Integral Meditators, 

This weeks article explores how to work mindfully with your ego & self concept in a creative, empowered way. If you enjoy it, then you are invited to come along to the Tuesday or Wednesday meditation class, where we will be focusing on this subject. 

A couple of dates for your diary, in addition to the Two day meditation retreat on Oct 28-29th:

In the spirit of turning subjects into objects,


Re-working your ego by expanding your self-concept (AKA: Van Halen therapy)
The Ego is
One of the definitions that I like for the ego is simply ‘the unifying centre of awareness’ of a person. It is the self-sense that sits in the middle of you as you navigate your daily experiences. Ego is not a positive or negative term, but a neutral one. However, we can say that a person has a strong or functional ego, which is a good thing, or a weak, dysfunctional ego which is not a good thing. Our ego also operates according to ethical values, or a lack of ethical values, and this distinction also makes an ego a relatively ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ thing. These values can be held consciously or unconsciously by the ego in question.
Your self-concept is
Your idea of who you are. It is the mental template that you have built up over your life about:

  • The ‘type’ of person you are
  • What is possible & not possible for you
  • The story of how you became who you are

…and so on. Your self-concept generally creates a sense of what you can and can’t do in life, what you like and don’t like. When you are faced with a challenge, your ability to deal with that problem is intimately related to your self-concept. Your self-concept projects onto the situation what it thinks and believes. In a situation where your self-concept doesn’t believe you can meet and solve a challenge, you can do one of two things:

  • You can give up, or
  • You can change your idea of yourself, making it one that can work with what is presenting

Relating imaginatively to a new idea of yourself
I remember one time when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by always having to ‘put myself out there’ as a creative and as a small business owner. I really felt out of my comfort zone. It felt alien to my idea of myself, it felt uncomfortable and exhausting. I had a dream one night of being with Daid Lee Roth (ex-lead singer of Van Halen). I was hanging out with him on the void-deck of an HDB block of flats in Singapore. Preparations were underway for a concert, and after chatting enthusiastically to me for a short while, DL-R just got up on stage with his band and did the concert, singing and dancing around half-naked, and just letting go and enjoying himself with the small group of people that was there.
I woke up feeling light, energised, and encouraged. In the subsequent days, week’s, and still to this day (the dream was years ago) I often think of this dream, and imagine myself being like David L-R, just dancing though my life, meeting what is there with enthusiasm, spontaneity, and not being afraid of a bit of exhibitionism.
This idea, and working with it imaginatively really changed my self-concept, and consequently my sense of what is possible, what can energise me not drain me, and so on. In short, I re-worked my ego using a new image-template.
Using this expanded self for inner healing & growth
So, the basic idea is that if you have a psychological block that is holding you back, or you don’t think you care ‘capable’ of achieving something, you create an image or idea of yourself that can, and then start relating to that image.
Paths beyond the ego
If you are connected to the Soul level of things, quite often you will find that ideas, images, and happenings occur in your life that you can readily use for this type of work, so pay attention!
The ego is the mental/psychological level of self, so there are a number levels of self beyond ego on the soul and spiritual level of things. However, the ego and self-concept are really ‘lynch-pins’ between the upper and lower levels of self, so we really need to work on making our self-concept a healthy, resilient, wise and fun-loving one!
Related readingYour bright shadow – The one who can do what you can’t

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2023. you are welcome to share, but please cite the source, thanks! Contact  

In case you missed last week’s video: ‘Subjects to objects – How meditation helps you grow to greater degrees of freedom’

Summary: This video discusses two main subjects related to meditation. The first part explores why and how a meditation practice helps individuals grow as individuals. Meditation is described as a process that transforms subjects of consciousness (e.g., body, emotions, ego) into objects of consciousness, leading to reduced identification with these aspects and increased inner freedom…watch full video

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