What some people call brain is more accurately “mind”. In Buddhist terms, it is the monkey mind. In Western Mystery Tradition it frequently gets labeled as the Negative Ego. In Twelve Step programs, they just call it ego, but that term is confusing, because Freud.
The Negative Ego is that part of the Self that, when sabre tooth cats roamed the earth, said “don’t leave the cave and you won’t get eaten.” It served us well at the time. There are no longer sabre tooth cats, but the negative ego still exists.
The Negative Ego is our main operating system in our society, which is problematic on a number of levels, not the least of which is because its message is fear based. See, it is convinced that if it isn’t in control, we’re going to die. Any time we do something like embark on a path of spiritual growth, we are attempting to use a different operating system, and it goes into survival level fear. It gets louder and louder, trying to distract us and throw us off. In the Twelve Step programs, people talk about it being The Disease, but it’s actually part of the human condition.
Here’s the thing though. Every mythos of great spiritual teachers has at least one story about them struggling with the Negative Ego. This tells us that it’s part and parcel of being in a body. If Buddha, if Jeshua Messiah, if Krishna, all had a negative ego, then I’m going to have one too, and that’s okay. We can learn to shift our operating system and not die. The fear, the squirrel cage, the monkey mind, radio KFCK, is lying to us, because it’s still scared we’re going to get eaten.
All fear, honestly, is the illusion of the absence of the Divine. It has been said that either God is everything or it is nothing. If that’s true, then we are all Cells In The Body Divine. God just is, and if that’s true, then there’s nothing to fear. Doesn’t mean we don’t experience it as real. I’ll tell you, though, every time I had a legit reason to be scared, car accident for example, I have gotten really still and present and in the moment, which is where God is. It’s only when I’m in the what ifs that I’m in fear. When I’m where my feet are, the illusion of fear, the illusion of separation, the illusion of being finite, falls away.
If God is everything, that means that I can connect with the Divine at whatever level I’m ready to. All concepts are accurate, if incomplete. See the Sufi story of the blind men and the elephant. So we find those facets, those aspects of the Divine that help us, and we start our connection there. Your concept of God will evolve over time, so don’t panic about it. The Divine is everything.
Meditation helps us get present, because it gives us something to focus on besides that squirrel cage.
Focusing on the sensations in our bodies, which are the product of chemical reactions in the body produced by stimuli, helps us get present. Emotions are actually opinion or judgement that the mind places on those sensations, and are therefore not verifiable fact, and take us out of being present.
See, the Negative Ego is attached to our intelligence. And it doesn’t have a real job any more, so it’s bored. So it makes up stories about what will happen and what they meant when they said that and what he’s thinking. This also serves to maintain its control. The present is where Negative Ego isn’t. So focusing on verifiable information, on what we can see/hear/taste/smell/touch, keeps us out of those stories and brings us present. It allows us to be in conscious contact with the Divine. “Conscious” because we have to work at consciously directing our focus. The Buddhists call this Mindfulness.
When I say “be where your feet are,” it is shorthand for the conscious direction of your attention into the present. It’s also a trick for doing it. Focus on the soles of your feet. What are they touching? What sensations are you experiencing? When you do that, you’re in your body, grounded. You’re here. You’re now. You’re present.