For quite some time now I’ve been trying to understand what on earth the ego is for. With all of us at some time having been on the receiving end of some, seeing others in quite spectacular action, and having our own which may leave us sensitive, fragile and sometimes defensive when we come into contact with ones that are a little toxic, I have just been left wondering… To me it an ego seems kind of like the tonsils or appendix. Evolutionary redundant, pretty much ornamental until it becomes poisonous, and literally destroys everything in it’s path, starting with it’s infected host, sometimes.
In a world that is recognising a new consciousness, a mindfulness and the power of positive thoughts and energy – of going back to the basic traits and gifts that us earthlings were born to use for the greater good, where and why is an ego thrown into the mix? I would love to understand if it has a purpose and a use. Strangely, in all my ponderings, this image started showing up in my newsfeed a lot and it really brought home some lessons that I have learnt from practising Yoga.
Are you good at yoga?
Being good at Yoga means showing up. Period. In class, there are no competitions or awards. If you do just one extra Boat Pose in a lesson, it just means you did one more than the last one. Next time you may do one less, or two more – no-one cares. Everyone is there to focus, calm the mind and practice an art. No-one is judging or correcting (except the teacher, if you are doing something that may be dangerous to yourself!). Even if your left is everyone else’s right and you do an Asana facing the wrong direction, it’s totally fine – you won’t be corrected or chided – just be sure to balance it by doing it on the other side too!
I can touch my toes. Can you?
My teacher says everyone can touch their toes. All you have to do is sit down in a comfortable position, and then bend your body of lift your leg, and voila, you can touch your toes! We can all do anything. It’s the ‘how to’ that is our choice, and the celebration (or judgement) our own. We don’t judge. The only time we use the rest of the class as a benchmark is to occasionally check our posture against someone else’s as a way to continually learn (or to look around and see if everyone is going right-right, or right-left this time…)
Will I look lovely and glamorous when I do Yoga?
If you are doing a heated class, no. If you are doing yoga outside on a farm that has a lot of flies, probably no too. Heated yoga always makes me feel clean – mainly because about 98% of the total water in my body is lost into a shower onto my towel, along with any makeup left after a day at work, and the hair-do, oh the hair-do…! That’s if one is not lying in a Child’s Pose, crying, or sweating even more. Actually you can’t cry in heated yoga as there’s normally no more water left in your body to actually produce tears, but it’s challenging, lovely and not glamorous! On farms, or in the outdoors, one can often end up with a menagerie of curious insects and flies visiting patches of exposed skin. It’s a good challenge in the practice of zen, of quieting the mind when a fly is exploring the entrance to a nostril. It’s not glamorous, but it’s beautiful and that’s the joy of yoga. No-one cares, not even that fly looking into your nasal cavities.
Will people think I’m lame if I can’t do all the various poses?
Truth is they’ll probably not even notice, but if they did notice, and they were in class for the right reasons, they’d respect you. It takes more courage and more better judgment to choose NOT to do something you’re not comfortable with, than to want to look amazing, be competitive, do it, and lose a few teeth in the process. (kidding) Okay not kidding. Anyway, no 2 lessons will ever be the same. You’ll have strength days, balance days, tired days, days you rock Savasana (that happens most days!), busy brain days, strange emotion days. it’s all fine. Acknowledge it as a guest in your class for that day – and tell it, it’s welcome to kick ego’s ass any day!
So, doing Yoga has taught me something about myself and others, that the only important thing in life is to turn our drishti (that’s gaze for non-yogis) inwards and forwards. We are all marvellous, no need to broadcast it – or make anyone feel less than that.
No egos are welcome at my table, or near my mat on my journey.