Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Value of the Self

Yoga and Buddhism make it quite clear that dropping the Ego/Self is a very important endeavor. If we are not able to drop the Ego, our meditation will never be quite grounded or authentic - instead, it will always have an element of, "look how well I've learned to meditate!" Similarly, if the Ego is not dropped from your yoga practice, an inordinate amount of time and mental energy is going to be spent checking out the other practitioners in the studio & seeing if you're "better" than them!

This is a useless endeavor for multiple reasons. First of all, we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. To use mine as an example, I have flexible hamstrings which helps me with forward bends. But I also have an inner-ear problem which makes standing balance poses very difficult for me! Not only is it not helpful to compare yourself to other students in the class, also try to avoid comparison with yourself. As soon as you start to think about how you did a particular pose better yesterday, you've moved out of the present moment and into the past. So keep that Ujaiyi Breathing flowing, no matter what!

So, after all this talk about dropping the Self/Ego, how do we make use of it? Well, the answer lies not in making use of it for ourselves, but instead for other people. You know the old saying, "never judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes"? It's built on that principle. So, while trying to work with your own Ego to become more calm, peaceful, and accepting every day, you can also use that Ego to generate compassion for those having a difficult day. Use the Ego to think about how you would want someone to respond to you if you were upset. And because everyone is different (& not everyone likes hugs!), sometimes the safest bet is to say something like, "I'm so sorry you're upset. I empathize, and if I can do anything, please let me know."

Beginning to use the Ego to understand others rather than just yourself will open up a whole new world of compassion and empathy for you, as well as for those you share this energy with.

YMCA Vinyasa Int. class, I'll see you all at the Y tonight at 7pm! :)

1 comment:

kromley said...

This is wonderful insight. Ego is something we are all aware of but I also believe the ego is something we all struggle with as we deal with the trials and tribulations of our lives. I believe we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Oftentimes just being is the biggest challenge.