September 6, 2013

This is a Regularly-Scheduled Ego Checkup.

Let’s talk about your ego.

Now, don’t get defensive. Chances are, if you’re reading elephant journal, you’ve read about your ego before. The fact that this popped up on your browser is the Universe’s way of letting you know that it’s time to revisit this topic.

We all have ego, not to be confused with self-confidence. Self-confidence is about trusting your knowledge and abilities. It’s about being able to speak and act without second guessing yourself.

Ego is self-importance, that holier-than-thou attitude that, as a yoga teacher, may possess you to teach postures that are entirely too challenging for the class. Ego is that nasty little monster that rears his ugly horns when you don’t get to teach at the studio of your choice right after teacher training. He gossips and puts other people down.

I know that you know that ego needs to be uninvited to your yoga practice. Graciously extend an invitation to gratitude, humility, compassion and kindness.

1. Observe and listen.

Ego doesn’t have a lot of true friends. He’s so busy listening to the sound of his own voice that he doesn’t notice his audience has stopped paying attention. Be more interested in what is going on with the people around you than with what you have to say. You’ll surely learn something from this practice.

2. Cultivate humility.

Ego’s arch nemesis is an open heart and an open mind. Don’t just make “open heart, open mind” your mantra. Live it. If you don’t like the teaching style of that red-headed, tattooed, 20-something at your local studio, take her class anyway and find all of the (genuine) reasons other people like it. You never have to go back again, but often when we have negative reactions to an otherwise positive situation, it needs to be explored. This applies just as much to your asana practice. Think of that pose that you really hate and then sit in that pose and ask yourself why you hate it.

3. Give anonymously.

Do something without any expectation that you will be recognized or get something in return. Don’t tell anyone you did it. Don’t post it on social media. Pay for the person behind you in the Starbucks drive through and drive away, go ahead. This practice absolutely will not work if you tell anyone you did it.

4. Challenge yourself.

Try something that you think you may not be able to do. Falling is part of the practice. After all, the challenges that we face on the mat help us gracefully deal with the challenges off of the mat. If at first you don’t fall, it wasn’t challenging enough.

5. Take a huge step back.

Realize that there is always someone somewhere who knows more than you, who bends more and who flies more gracefully. This in no way speaks to the kind of person you are. What this does speak to is your gratitude, humility, compassion and kindness. Have you invited them onto your mat today?

6. Give love.

Stop worrying about where and when the ego is present and start giving love. At the end of the day, the ego is intangible. It’s part of who we are as individuals and collectively, as a species. If we focus on being better humans, on not gossiping around the studio water fountain (or anywhere for that matter), on listening to those in need and on radiating inspiring, loving energy, then we won’t need to spend time thinking about the ego. Which is fortunate, because sometimes just thinking about checking the ego feeds that very ego. Don’t let it happen to you, give love.

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Assistant Editor: Bruce Casteel/Ed: Sara Crolick



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