by Robb Munger, US Army Retired
In “When Bullets Fly and the Ego is Killed” we explored the detrimental inner workings of the untamed ego and its effects on removing, or at a minimum replacing, spirituality in our lives. Now, with a personal desire to overcome the ego and take back positive control of our lives, the first question is “How?” As Type-A personalities, when we hear about the cheat codes of life, how the illusive awakened Masters that performed miracles on Earth before our time did it, we anxiously ask the question with burning genuine desire; “Why not me?”
Through devotion, we immediately dedicate ourselves to put in the hard work to level up and attract success in everything we do; if only given the mystical opportunity. But the secret is that opportunities await each one of us yet lie in potential; just waiting to be unleashed to the universe with you as the actor. Part ego, part authentic You, this is our inner wiring, the very structure of our DNA to push for greatness.
The following article is focused on mediation as a modality, a tool you can learn to use in your everyday life to tune into the frequencies required to tap into the bigger, greater you. It’s not going to be as sexy as you think, but it’s certainly going to be effective if given serious attention. This is a course of study that becomes unique to you and only as good as you put into it every single day. If accepted, the greater you becomes the familiar one you experience when you enter the “flow state.” Picture Michael Jordan, back in the day with number 23 on his chest, running a clinic on the Pistons. The look in his eyes where every calculated move seemed effortless. He’s not thinking, just doing. It’s not Michael Jordan doing life, it’s life doing Michael Jordan.
In tactical parlance, we have all been there before; the number two man in the stack, giving the pinch to number one, knowing instinctually that you are going the opposite way upon entering the room and moving to your point of domination; clearing all identified enemy. You have rehearsed this so many times that as obstacles and anomalies appear, you act like water in a rocky stream; absorbing and melting around to become the most important thing in the room. Yet, functioning like an orchestra with other masters of their craft, you function as a collective team. From the catwalk, watching a finely tuned team Enter & Clear brings a tear and overwhelming pride. Its cathartic. That’s the flow state. That’s where we want to consciously learn to live and operate from. Let’s get into it.
“Turn around, sit down and shut up.”
Essentially that’s it. Okay, on to the next lesson…
Well, maybe it’s not that simple. But it can be. “Just get out of your head, bro.” Isn’t that we always say to each other?
- “I can’t quiet my mind and concentrate.”
- “I can’t turn it off.”
- “I over thought it.”
- “Sorry, I was distracted.”
And what is the cause and effect of all of these excuses? Missed opportunities, rumination, depression, and worse yet; creating a permanent solution to a temporary problem. We are so overwhelmed in this fear-based world with media and social media saturating our society and our own expectations that distract our minds from being quiet and alone. Funny but not funny; I’ve brought my phone into the shitter because I didn’t want to be alone with myself. I couldn’t even go do my business and get on with my life, instead choosing to remain in a smelly room while scrolling on the feed. It’s realizations like this where one has to make the deliberate choice to make a healthy change in how we utilize our greatest weapon; our mind.
This is where meditation has drawn me in as a practice. Meditation gives me an excuse to shut it all down for 30 minutes and regain control. But meditation is not what you think…see what I did there? Meditation is not shutting off the mind. It is a method to observe all the pointless thoughts we have all day long that really don’t serve us at all. It’s a progressive realization how addicted to thought we have become. Remember, the ego as an outdated program, is coded to keep you occupied with all the indicators and warnings of days past or attempting to create hyper-awareness to predict an unknown future.
As you begin to learn to meditate and fully embrace what meditation will teach you, the greatest part of it is learning how to be the observer and become unattached to the endless thoughts of the mind, or better yet, the ego is constantly serving up to you to prove its relevancy. By this point in all of our lives, we are addicted to thought. Here’s the paradox I discovered once in a 40-minute meditation with breath work; “I love thinking about stuff, but the majority of it is all past or future stuff, serving me absolutely no value in the present, flow state I desire to live from.” It became so obvious; I am addicted to thinking…like deep thinking!
As an operations planner that totally makes sense. We all look for the blind spots, redundancies and formulate contingency plans in mission analysis. We try to predict with certainty the potential for multiple enemy courses of actions to have the overwhelming advantage. We constantly analyze and refine our battle drills to be unpredictable to the enemy but functional and retainable to the lowest private on the team. We think a lot. We get promoted and placed in greater roles of responsibilities because of our “outside the box” innovative thinking skills.
But there comes a point where we have to learn, and accept, to turn it off. I mean, I got a severe case of the “insomnias” because of overthinking. I never learned, until it was too late, to leave it in the truck before I went in the house after work. Lost in thought means you are not present. This is where a sound, meditation practice comes in. Not to give you space to do more thinking, but to check out and become the observer of all the thought-activity you entertain and consume. It puts your brain in a rest state while remaining awake. It makes you more aware of how the autopilot is functioning and shows you how your blind spots make you miss the obvious things. Trust me, this stuff is important and it’s why it is the first modality I am covering.
So, let’s just try a practical exercise. Create a mental model while reading this to apply to your first meditation practice. Find a quiet spot free from most distractions. Distractions are going to happen and serve as the injects of your practice. You are going to learn how to manage them now through response versus reaction. Find a place to sit, like a dining room chair or the couch with a pillow behind your back. The important thing is to sit erect, with a straight spine. Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle, and you can just place your palms on your knees for now. Notice how I am not asking you to get in a cross-legged, lotus pose, because that is not what’s important here. Close your eyes and take three nice, deep breaths.
Observe each breath; where it goes on the inhale and then how it gives relief on the exhale. Stress in and Peace out. Now, let your breath go back to a normal, relaxed breathing rhythm. Those three breaths were a gift you just gave yourself. That’s called “Intention.” That is how we are going to start loving the body and giving gratitude to build our spiritual faith. Next, let’s try to listen to what’s going on around you, still with your eyes closed. Don’t fixate on anything, just observe by hearing alone. It could be the air conditioner, a clock, a bird, the leaves rustling of a nearby tree or better yet, nothing.
By now your first thought will probably show up. Instead of entertaining the thought and chasing it, just watch it. Make the thought an object you can see. This is imagination, something we are going to use and build upon. As the observer, watch it as a cloud would pass your field of view on canvas of blue sky. Don’t look for details of the cloud, just see it as it is, passing through your field of view. If you want to have some fun with it, you can use your rhythmic breathing to intentionally blow it along out of your field of view.
Now the sky is back to just a beautiful blue hue, like on the old Microsoft desktop wallpaper. That’s your healthy mind, free of thoughts and existing as consciousness alone. Just take a second and enjoy this; this is where YOU actually reside. The ego shows up sometimes as another cloud, either as a future or past thought, attempting to interrupt the present, I AM state. It might even lob in a flashbang and say, “You’re not doing it right,” disrupting your peace and creating hints of shock and doubt. That’s ok, now you know how to identify and understand the technique to allow it to just pass through. Don’t internalize.
When you understand what’s going on here, it’s like the ego withdrawing spiritual currency from your “conscious-state ATM.” If your balance is low, you are going to go into a spiritual deficit. Spoiler alert: this is where most of us exist by default; in a spiritual deficit and we just can’t afford to be in debt any longer. Your viewfinder might become completely filled with an overcast view of thoughts. That’s ok. Just hang in there and notice how many thoughts the ego is trying to rob you from the present state.
And here is the lesson: Not to “shut off your mind” but to become the conscious observer and resume control; mitigate risk of needless thoughts that rob you from your spirituality. Even if you practice this for three or five minutes, it’s an incremental step for positive change. Once you get the hang of it and make it a priority, you’re going to be shocked at how “tuned out” you’ve been and how addicted to constant thinking you’ve become. So, take it slow, fit this practice into your day after PT, during lunch or before a Command & Staff and it will become as addictive as going to the gym and working out the physical body. This becomes the rest and recovery phase of your mental training. The results of your consistency will soon be self-evident in unlocking your potential and tuning up your personality.
To share a practice I have put into habit, first let me preface that I work in a cubicle farm. This atmosphere and disruptive environment does not lend to a state of bliss. The hum of the florescent lighting and the HVAC vent above me does wonders for the subconscious. So, everyday at lunch, I back away from the dual screens, head outside with a Honeycrisp apple and walk the campus. This is time I give to myself to disconnect and get back into nature. I give honor to the short time I am free from responsibilities by observing myself as the creator of my own reality. I give gratitude for the wonderful opportunities I have been given to experience this Earthly deployment. I ask for forgiveness for the past mistakes and come back to the fact that “Everything is as it should be…. Perfect. That to think otherwise is an unhealthy attachment to expectations and outcomes.”
This is what radical surrender looks like and it does wonders for your self-awareness. It humbles you. And as I round the last corner and toss the apple core in the waste, I take in the view one last time before I head back in to round out the day. This practice is what I refer to as “Mindful Walking.” And here is something I have learned, when I go out on these walks and I am consumed in thought, not fully present, I am either looking down at the ground, or hyper-focused on something on the horizon of my view. This is the cue that I AM NOT HERE. It’s when I use the “Touch & Release” method, of acknowledging and simply letting go of that which I was consumed with. Acting upon this it expands the aperture of my view immediately and allows me to receive the spectacular beauty I had had been missing out on. We need to find time and space for ourselves to get back in to “Receive Mode.”
Awesome resources now exist on most app stores to give you meditation timers, guided meditations to guide you along and videos all over YouTube will give you endless pointers and music. If you have ever explored binaural beats, these tones ranging in different Hertz frequencies can help assist the brain enter in target frequency ranges to expand your practice. But these are all force multipliers. You can still go into spiritual combat without these tools. We were all given the potential to use the essentials we came here to Earth with. So don’t get wrapped up in the gadgets and whiz bang stuff. I’ve given you the compass, map, and protractor. The GPS is good but has its flaws too.
Lastly, if you are willing to try this to create a change from the old patterns that have led you down frustrating days and nights, you are going to have to accept that not everyone has unlocked the secrets of mindfulness. This brings in an important topic to build off the last article and our steps moving forward; the Spiritual Ego. Yes, I told you the ego is crafty. As you begin to take serious steps towards proven methods that inevitably help transcend the ego state-of-consciousness-conditioning you have been operating in, the ego infiltrates this new you and acts in its old predictable ways.
It’s the voice that starts showing up in your mind saying things like: “I am so much more spiritual than you” and “My practice of mediation is really creating quite the awakening; can’t you see it?” and “You should really do this practice to get to my spiritual level.” But be forewarned, anything that looks like an Instagram “look at me” post is the ego operating now as the spiritual ego. I told you; it will try by all means to stay relevant and show its value.
So, we make healthy, consistent changes by remaining humble and showing our progress in our actions and results not by the words and declarations. We now are on glidepath to transcend the old habits.
I mean, we are now truly becoming the quiet professionals we were always meant to be.
Robb is a retired active Army veteran of 21 years, primarily serving as a Cavalry Scout. Having accomplished multiple combat tours, diverse global assignments and leadership roles, Robb retired as a First Sergeant of Shadow Troop, 1-33 CAV (Rakassans). From there, Robb went on to attempt his luck in the civilian sector as a Reliability Engineer at an international paper processing company during the pandemic. Not quite satisfied and feeling the draw to serve once again, Robb made his way back behind the gate working with some of the nation’s tip of spear warfighters on Fort Liberty, NC.
It was during this time that he was drawn into an esoteric spiritual journey of self-discovery and began peeling back the onion of how vanquishing spiritual warfare can serve as a personal force multiplier. Dropping all ties to dogmatic religious principles, Robb solely embarked into studies of the mystical and metaphysical for the answers of life. Now forged with this newfound purpose, Robb blends his current path of spiritual ascension along with his past experience of the rigors of military service in order to uplift the future of his brothers and sisters in arms.
“The answers we all seek lie in potential.”
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.