By Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA
Many spiritual teachers and traditions teach about the power of being present in the moment. By cultivating an egoless state, they claim that you can find great joy and happiness in life. The problem is, many teachers don’t explain how to experience egolessness outside of years of contemplative practice. Meditation is an important process of self-actualization, but doesn’t always translate into the everyday world.
While developing a deep, empathic listening skill as part of my work as a peacemaker, I suddenly experienced non-ego for about 15 seconds. It was remarkable because I felt exactly as the teachers said I would. Nothing could touch me, and I was experiencing a deep connection while completely conscious. Even more startling, I was in the process of de-escalating a very angry person.
Standing in the midst of intense conflict, I found Oneness. Since then, I have perfected teaching the skill so that anyone can learn how to do it. Here are the steps you need to take to experience this for yourself.
Step 1: Be Willing to Listen
This process works best when you are motivated to listen to another person at a deep, compassionate level. If you are pressed for time, don’t care, or are angry yourself, it won’t work.
Step 2: Ignore the Words
When you listen to another person experiencing strong emotions, ignore their words. Listening to the words makes you ego-involved. Ignoring the words allows you to move into an egoless state. Don’t worry. You will remember everything said even if you consciously ignore the words.
Step 3: Listen for and Guess at the Emotions
When you ignore the words, you open up your capacity to pay attention to the emotional experience of another. As you listen for and guess at those emotions, you become so focused on the speaker that your ego dissolves. It’s automatic, so you don’t have to do anything except focus on the other person’s emotional experience.
Step 4: Observe
Some part of you will be able to observe the process from a different level. The deeper part of You will come forward and marvel at the connection you have just created. You will feel the Oneness.
Step 5: Reflect the Emotions of the Other Person Back
As you listen to and guess at the emotional experience the other person is having in the moment, begin to reflect them back. Use direct “You” statements, such as “You are angry.” “You are frustrated.” “You are anxious.” Do not ask what the person he or she is feeling (“Are you angry?”) and do not use “I” statements (“What I hear you saying is you’re angry.”) Both the question and the “I” statement come from ego. By making simple, declarative statements focused on “you.” you drop into egolessness.
Don’t worry about being wrong. That is your ego again. If you guess wrong, your speaker will say something like, “No, I’m not angry, I’m pissed off.” Take the correction and reflect it back exactly.
Step 6: Stop at the Head Nod
After about 30-45 seconds of this emotional reflecting, you will see your speaker engage in an unconscious, biophysical response. Your speaker will give you a head nod with a verbal response such as “Yeah, yeah.” You will also see the shoulders drop and a sigh of relief. When these occur, you are complete. Stop reflecting.
During this practice, you will observe yourself in a non-ego state. You are so focused on your speaker’s emotions, you have no room for your ego. As you practice this form of deep, compassionate listening, you will learn what being in an egoless state is like. In a short time, you will be able to move into the state at will. With more practice, you will be there most of the time.
This is an extremely powerful, transformative practice. It yields deep spiritual growth for you while providing deep, empathic listening to people with strong emotions. Whether you use this on your children, spouse, friends, or co-workers, you will see profound changes in yourself in short order.
Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA is an award-winning lawyer, author, speaker, and trainer. After a successful two-decade career as a trial lawyer, he devoted himself to understanding the root causes of human conflict. Today, he shares his knowledge with those interested in transforming their lives and relationships from drama and chaos to peace and love. For more strategies visit www.dougnoll.com.