Ohhhhh, the ego.
As our spirituality deepens with our practice, yogis learn that one of the aims of the ancient tradition is to “break down” the ego. When we begin to explore this idea, we feel and see the limitless liberation that releasing the ego holds!
As I’ve mentioned before, I used to be SO angry. The slightest bump on the street, a friend not responding in the way I wanted , someone else’s joy (hard to admit but true!) could bring on anything from a frenzied and impulsive “f**k you!” to days of dark sadness that were steeped in being imprisoned by my mind.
I must always mention that asana is a vital part of a yoga practice, and for me, life practice- because it is on the mat we allow our fire to burn. Many of us contain old negative energy; when you practice the physical postures of yoga you allow this toxicity to be burned up and released with the breath, making room for prana or life force.
If you do not have an asana practice it is still very possible to work on quieting the ego’s perception of a situation so that YOU can assess the reality much more effortlessly, able to respond with clarity and kindness.
The ego is the voice inside that screams ME! ME! I! I! So of course when it is out of whack we are going to take personal offense if we’re bumped on the sidewalk or cut in line. The ego screams, “THIS IS ABOUT ME!” but the thing is, of course it isn’t! That person may have someone they love in the hospital, a headache, just gotten fired, or maybe just inconsiderate; regardless it is not up to us to judge or chastise- we are just one of the same divinity that the “other” is from. If you are at a party and someone takes the last piece of cake you wanted, it is unfair to say “that was a direct assault on ME”—they are just existing, havin’ some cake! When you guide your perception in this direction, YOU will live more calmly with much less unnecessary agitation.
The other day my ego got in the way when one of my best friends was in a bad mood. She clearly communicated she was having a hard day and that she felt off, and I kept needling her for attention and feeling rejected, angry, and sad when I was rebuffed. On the way home I started a conversation with myself, and realized that not only was I being a bad friend in not providing her comfort on a bad day, but it was unfair for me to expect her to behave the way I needed her to, because that’s what I needed. She needed some chill understanding and a little peace from other peoples’ (including my) needs and wants. I decided to apologize to her for being nasty. She wrote back kindly, again expressing she was a bummed out and that really, she hadn’t even noticed because she was dealing with her own troubles.
If I had let my ego dictate my actions, I would be punished with feelings of anxiety, anger, and resentment and our awesome friendship would have been impacted; instead I’m looking forward to seeing her and I feel great. Plus, my ego had created a problem and tension between us that to her did not exist. Because I was trapped in my ego I could not see clearly and was on the verge of starting a fight. When I made the effort to clear at least some of the ego clouds that were impeding my perception I was able to quickly remedy a situation that would have only caused me great stress in innumerable ways. I had nothing to do with her mood one way or the other. It’s vital not to become trapped in the ol’ “the world revolves around me”; when we live in this space we decide “they” must be acting that way in some reaction to “me”. I cannot stress enough how important to it is to remember this is usually not the case! If you believe that it is however, you’ll live with a lot of anxiety, regret, and self-doubt.
We have the choice to create the relationships and life that we want. We must love ourselves and not look to others for validation; we do this through asana practice and swadhyaya. We must discern ego from pride (which when balanced manifests as self-love and self-respect), and take responsibility for the role we play in our interactions with others and ourselves. We must take the “I” out of the way to release ourselves from so much unnecessary anger, drama, sadness, anxiety, fear, depression etc.
Life is a gift; do not undermine yourself or your great power! Choose to live beautifully and happily!