I find this quite hard to describe to people but, I will try. The basic premise is that by achieving ego dissolution then you are able to step out of your own mind and observe it from an arms distance. This detachment from your ‘self’ is what is called being the observer. This alone is often not understandable to people who have not experienced ego dissolution however, and so I will attempt to talk in depth about a particular example from my own experience of ego dissolution.
I have a mild to medium level of anxiety at given times throughout my life. It is characterized by a lack of confidence and sometimes an inability to make decisions.
By allowing some ego dissolution into your life you introduce the ability to conceptually ‘stand outside yourself’ and observe your mind undergoing such bouts of anxiety. As such you can more objectively see the situation and more easily drag yourself out of it. In my case I can more easily recognize patterns and nip them in the butt more quickly avoiding a drawn out anxiety and possible depression.
Another way to say this is that the ego dissolution gives me an eagle eye view of myself. I can see all the pieces and how they relate to one another and hence can understand it as a whole instead of being on the ground and not being able to see the forrest for the trees.
Understanding the nature of the ego:
Importantly, the ego, as I mentioned, is involved with ideas around your identity. When you are ‘in’ your ego as opposed to being beside it you are consumed by the issue and you feel as if it is all of you, as if it defines you completely.
When you are an arms length from it you can understand that you are not only made up of the ideas and concepts that your ego has about you. If you were you wouldn’t be able to stand beside and observe those ideas and concepts. Having this kind of perspective to look over at your ego makes you understand that you are not defined solely by it. Somewhere during this process I also understood that your ego is able to be manipulated in certain ways with the aim of reducing anxious thought patterns.
I believe my anxiety was formed over time, not given to me at birth in a ready made state with all of its anxious thoughts. And it is my belief that if I learned something then I can also un-learn it.
Whether or not you can completely remove the anxiety or not is not necessarily what I’m saying and in fact is not necessary. You just have to be able to see it for what it is.
One of the things Freud says about the ego is that it is a kind of mediator between your true self and the world itself. I think that over time my ego learned (perhaps ‘reacted’ or ‘formed’ is a better word) to have these anxious thought patterns through my environment as I grew up.
I think the ego is, in part just as Freud described, a kind of navigator of our true selves in the world. As it goes along it is influenced by the experiences we have in the world and is ‘engrained’ with the resultant thought patterns.
I also think that these patterns, once formed, are hard to overcome. Like water traveling down a hill our thoughts follow a path of least resistance. As such, once a negative thought pattern has been created it’s more likely to be reinforced in the future by future thoughts.
The ego seems to have a ruminating nature as well. It tends to bring up old incidents or reminders of things frequently. In this way, a negative experience can be brought up over and over again to your ego and reinforce this pattern. It is my opinion that one of the things an ego is for is to help you navigate the world. As such reminding you of things in which you found danger in in the past may be a way of avoiding it in the future.
Under these circumstances, being able to stand beside your ego and not be ‘in’ it allows you to see the ego for what it really is. That being, that it is not the entirety of you but, just a part of you. Understanding it’s programable and reinforceable nature means that you can start to create new habits and thoughts and if you are able to reinforce them over time they can become stronger and stronger. I think that you can rewrite neural pathways this way.