That’s right, this happy little guy here, he screamed like a banshee when I first began buckling him into his vest harness, which we affectionally call the “vestie.” So here he is in his vestie.
Sawyer’s struggles early-on remind me of the pain and suffering that my newest students go through when they first begin their emotional release work.
Let me say more about this. The approach to release difficult emotions is straightforward and simple enough but it is not easy. And it’s not easy because it brings people face-to-face with their self-limiting patterns and behaviors… so they can change them.
And there’s this term, “ego death” or “ego dissolution,” that’s a familiar term used in psychedelic culture. And it describes what happens when someone is on a psychedelic trip and has a “difficult trip” (another psychedelic term) which, simply put, forces the mind or soul to a tipping point where the mind or soul metaphorically detaches from the body. And that process is what makes a difficult trip, difficult.
And, it can be deeply transformative and there are other experiences that people can have that induce this… like deep meditation and breathing practices, which emerge from wisdom traditions and are important tools in my emotional recovery work.
So what is the ego?
In simple terms, think of it this way: It is everything you’ve ever been told and shown about who you are, how things work and what actions and reactions are adequate. Throughout your development all of these external voices, and perhaps many of them telling you in so many ways that you’re unworthy. And eventually the essence of these voices came together creating a complex personality with ideas, desires, ambitions, fears, attitudes, patterns, and beliefs about the world that can keep us very small and very afraid.
And these thought constructs can be blown out of the water when we start doing this inner work on ourselves. And that ego death or dissolution is the pain we feel of all these “thought constructs” lifting.
And experiencing this, moving through these difficult feelings, can be painful and even terrifying. I’m not gonna gloss it over. This is what the term “Dark Night of the Soul” is describing.
BUT it is transitory, and you move through it and it can result in deep emotional healing, openness and compassion – especially self-compassion, a deeper sense of connectivity with the world around you. Being clear, calm and centered. Because those illusions our ego created to protect us… are dissolving. Hence, ego death or ego dissolution.
This is the realm of trauma releasing. But it’s a process, and I bring it back to my little dog Sawyer and his struggle with that vestie, until he surrendered to the process. And emerged enjoying life like he never enjoyed it before!
And a huge part of this process is integrating these changes into your life. I see it as really not about the “death” of the ego, but the re-training of it.
From a brain science perspective, parts of the brain called the Default Mode Network are quieted when this ego “death” occurs. The Default Mode Network is the part of the brain where we essentially process who we are and when we can lift this DMN that can lead to a kind of resetting or rewiring of our brain that can help us develop healthier thought patterns and how we see ourselves navigating in the world.
So whether it’s through psychedelics, or emotional release work like I do, where we do include small amounts of psilocybin or cannabis, it can be a difficult trip. But for those who are with me, I make it my business to find the most efficient and effective way through this Dark Night of the Soul.
What do you think? Have you experienced an ego death? Was it under the influence of a psychedelic? Or some other way? During meditation? I invite you to drop down to the comments section and let me know how did it happen, what was it like for you?
I’m Becca Williams and I want you to lead your most magnificent life and I want to help you do that.