I was first introduced to the stages of incarnation of the soul by Carl Jung's work and later again by Dr. Rudolph Steiner.
The challenge facing humankind when incarnating into a body is the soul becoming entangled with the ego mind and losing awareness of itself.
In other words the soul begins to believe it is the ego mind. Or, another way to say it, is the ego mind can impersonate the soul. However, you choose to look at it, this means you lose the ability to differentiate your soul from the mind.
This inability to differentiate your true nature not only leads to a great deal of confused thinking about life, but also the arrested realization of the soul. Or, perhaps this struggle to incarnate and realize the Self/Soul was the intention of our Creator all along. Who can say?
Death of the Ego Mind and realization of the Self happens in stages. It follows along similar stages of death as outlined by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in her book, “On Death and Dying.”
Each stage of ‘death’ represents the dissolution of an elaborate "ego" defense mechanism that you believe has kept you safe. But, in fact, has kept you imprisoned and living a life of lack and limitation.
These defenses must unravel, one by one, for you to realize your Self (Soul), the Truth of who you are. One of the traces of this struggle for realization of the Self may be experienced as increasing and ongoing attacks from the Ego Mind as the birthing process unfolds. This is a good sign that you’re making progress.
Getting free of the shadow talk that the Ego Mind uses to keep you entangled to its purposes to retain power and control at all costs requires vigilance and determination. Once you begin there is no going back. As your soul gains strength you will more easily overcome any attacks by the Ego Mind. You will easily recognize them for the false blusters they truly are and barely notice them.
Working through each stage is a cyclical process, not a linear one. Death of the Ego Mind is like peeling an onion. Even though experiencing the death of your Ego Mind can happen all at once it usually occurs 'naturally' in stages overtime.
First Stage - Denial
The first stage of dissolution and death of the Ego Mind is marked by complete suppression and denial. Denial is a common defense strategy used to protect oneself from considering an upsetting reality. In this stage you completely reject the reality of your situation. This stage is characterized by persistent avoidance.
For instance, everyone else, but you, has a shadow. In other words, you are (and are committed to remaining) completely unaware and in denial of your hidden motives and suppressed emotions.
This stage is marked by a stubborn refusal to see the ‘unified’ nature of every life situation and how everything is connected. By the term ‘unified’ I simply mean that all things are working together for good.
This is perhaps the most difficult stage for dissolution and death of the Ego Mind.
It’s characterized by fear and panic, overwhelm, victimization, blame, hiding, withholding, lying, shame and projection onto others of repressed shadow elements, i.e. seeing in others what you can’t see in yourself.
In this stage, “We see others as we are, not as they are.”
There is shock and disbelief that the Ego Mind, or projected self Image, is not the truth of who one really is. Tremendous subconscious pressure and pain can be experienced at this stage.
Affirmation: It is safe for me to see the truth.
Best essential oil for the Denial Stage
Ylang Ylang III (Cananga odorat)
Aromas: Sweet, floral, balsamic, exotic, sensual and earthy
Benefit: Useful for dispelling fears and anxieties.
Second Stage - Anger
As the illusion of one’s true situation in life begins to break through and surface to consciousness tremendous anger can be experienced. You may feel others are to blame. You may feel absolutely certain that an injustice has been done to you. There can be a sense that you alone are in the right.
In this stage you can feel very irritable and lose of patience with others, especially those who you may have held in high esteem previously. Recognizing your anger as a natural response to your awakening to the reality of life, rather than a story, or dream you’ve had about how life should be, can result in a great deal of disillusionment. You may project that everyone else is living their dream, but not you. This is an extremely emotional stage that can be characterized by rampantly shifting emotions and tremendous confusion about who or what to believe. You want to strike out against “others” as the enemy.
Affirmation: Thank you for helping me feel and express my anger and disappointment in healthy and constructive ways.
Best essential oil for the Anger Stage
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Aromas: Fresh, sweet, floral and herbaceous
Benefit: Promotes relief of anger. Can be helpful for preventing emotional outbursts. Psycho-emotionally excellent for breaking negative self talk
Third Stage - Bargaining
The bargaining stage is characterized by different strategies to attempt to undo your new reality. Life is not making sense at this stage and you can feel very confused and lost, not knowing what to do next. You may question the reason for your life. Nothing makes sense anymore.
Bargaining typically happens as a way to gain some sense of control over your life. You try to negotiate your way through the seeming chaos as the ground you built your life upon seems to be caving. This chaos that’s happening within can be manifest in your outward circumstances (work, relationships, finances, health, etc.) which mirror the unraveling of the beliefs you’ve held about how life is, or should be in all spheres, i.e. medical, social, religious, family, etc.
Your bargains can be rational, such as a commitment to adhere to a certain protocol of actions or to seek help from caregivers, or engaging in magical thinking. Or you may seek some form of appeasement for feelings of guilt that you are responsible in some way for what’s befallen you in life.
While bargaining can result in more active and positive engagement from you, bargaining behavior can be motivated by unhealthy and irrational expectations that can lead to more confusion and disappointment in outcomes.
Affirmation: Thank you for helping me accept what I cannot change.
Best essential oil for the Bargaining Stage
Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
Aromas: Warm, spicy, herbal and sweet
Benefit: Promotes deep relaxation, helpful for relieving panic attacks and emotional exhaustion. Helpful for releasing long held mental and emotional tension.
Fourth Stage - Depression
Sadness, fatigue, and an inability to feel pleasure characterize this stage. Spending time in the first three stages is potentially an unconscious effort to protect oneself from emotional pain. However, at this stage your actions are more akin to grief and loss which can be easier to understand and less confusing. The initial shock and refusal to realize the truth give way to a seeming futility and despair that no more can be done. This is a time when self compassion and associating with others who are gentle and supportive becomes crucial.
Affirmation: Thank you for helping me accept my true feelings.
Best essential oil for the Depression Stage
Rose Geranium (Pelargonium roseum)
Aromas: Warm, spicy, herbal and sweet
Benefit: Promotes balance, relief of repressed feelings and depression.
Fifth Stage - Acceptance
You finally recognize the truth and reality of your life situation and no longer protest or struggle against it. Now your focus can shift to enjoying your life as it is. A feeling of gratitude for the smallest details of you life and seeming insignificant events becomes prevalent. You naturally feel more empathy and support for yourself and others.
In this stage, you experiences a sense of renewal and connection to life. You have overcome any sense of loss and feel a strong sense of alignment with your destiny. The intuition is clear and strong, giving you guidance in each moment. Any signs of depression are no longer present. Now you begin the process of building your soul force and healing.
Affirmation: Thank you for helping feel calm and peaceful about my life and life at large.
Best essential oils for the Acceptance Stage
Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)
Benefit: Promotes happiness, eases tension.
Learning to Ride a Bicycle
Each of these five stages of ‘death’ of the Ego Mind can take differing amounts of time. If you believe in reincarnation, some say it can take lifetimes to ‘dissolve’ the ego.
There are many ways to think and talk about what happens in the transition from ego to soul. I liken the ego to training wheels on a bicycle. When you’re first learning to ride a bicycle (navigate through life) you need support get going. But, as you mature you can take off the training wheels and just learn to ride the bike without them. Your intuition is like riding your bike without training wheels.
It’s like humankind has gotten stuck relying on the Ego Mind for navigating when it’s really just supposed to help you when you’re first learning to ride the bike. Your intuition is a far more intelligent system for operating in life than your Ego Mind. You just need to put it into practice and, with use, you will become proficient at using it.