Ego in Yoga

This is a re-post  especially for those on the spiritual path of yoga.


hydra

“Ego can take many different forms and shapes. It is like the hydra. You cut off one head and another head replaces it. You cut off that head and see a third head and a fourth head ad infinitum.

This is because in the manifest dimension, ego identity is the root of life, and if the ego identity is lost, then life as we know it no longer exists.

It exists as light; life becomes light.”

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

I enjoy reading the different metaphors explaining the complexity of our ego, and can relate to the idea of a hydra. Our ego will do everything in its power to survive – especially adapting and changing shape.

The ego is very clever. It will allow one version of our body-mind to die and create a better version that fits in with either (1) how it wants to be seen in the world or (2) what is perceives is needed to stay alive in its physical body.

In my experience with others on a spiritual path, the newer version of ego is likely to be a more evolved version of the previous one. It may show up as being kinder person, a more patient parent, a wiser leader, a humble follower, a beacon of sanity in a world judged as mad…

These are still roles that the ego plays. Less damaging perhaps, yet still ego driven.

Recognizing the hydra heads of the ego is the gateway to le

The answer however is not to keep cutting its heads off. After all this would be an ego motivated act!

Instead embrace ego for what it is. A part of our very human nature that clings to life. It is neither good nor bad. It simply is.

Then we can wake up and realize we really are the divine light beyond ego and our human form.

Namaste

A World in Balance

I am back from a wonderful time in Italy, and getting settled into the rhythm of life here. These words from Lao Tzu resonated with me.


hands on heart

Remain quiet.

Discover the harmony in your own being.

Embrace it.

If you can do this, you will gain everything,

and the world will become healthy again.

~ Lao Tsu

 

 

A world in balance, begins with finding it within ourselves.

Make time to pause and listen inwards.

Embrace the rhythmic harmony of each breath.

May you find your Middle Ground today.

Release the Need to Save People from their Problems

Release the Need to Save People by Sanaya Roman*

”You can dissolve obstacles to love by releasing the need to save people from their problems. You can love others as your soul does by allowing them to be responsible for their own lives.

Taking care of others, worrying about their lives, and solving their problems can occupy so much of your attention and emotions that you have no energy left to put into your own life and spiritual path.
When you stop saving others, you can release any resentment you might feel for all the time and energy you spent on them.

When you save others, you can become a victim when they do not use your help in the way you would like, when they continue to create similar problems, or when they expect and demand that you continue to save them.

Learn to recognize when you are helping others because you feel that they do not have the strength or ability to solve their own problems.
When you feel an urge to help people in a way that will “save” them or take away their lessons, stop!
You may find that your desire to help others really comes from your own need to feel better and to have less concern and worry about their problems.

Assume that people have the ability to solve their own problems, even if you can’t see how they will. While your soul is interested in assisting people, it does not interfere with their lives. It allows people to have their own ideas, to live in whatever way they choose, to learn from their mistakes and to achieve their own successes.”

“Sometimes pain and suffering are necessary. No one can grow for us.” ~ Author unknown

This has been a profound lesson for me on my spiritual journey. When we recognize that we have a need to rescue others, or need other people to need us, we don’t allow them to have their own experience and to grow as human beings. It also diminishes our ability to connect at an authentic soul to soul level with others.

The aim of Yoga is to bring the mind to a state where we can see clearly without distortion of the truth

In Yoga, aparigraha or non attachment is one if the most difficult observances on our path to enlightenment. As a practice, it is usually focused on letting go of material objects and not being greedy or grasping. However, it can also apply to our thinking and in relationship to others. With self inquiry we can start to explore the motivations and thinking behind our actions and interactions in the world. Some questions to ponder are:

Am I grasping for attention … recognition … appreciation… to make me feel better about myself?
Am I interfering or trying to fix other people in an effort to fix myself?
In preventing them from feeling pain or being challenged, am I keeping them from growing?

While we are compassionate towards others and support them on their journey, it’s important to honor them and their experience, and allow them to grow through their own self inquiry.
The need to save others can keep us attached and prevents us, and them, from becoming truly free.

*Soul to Soul (p. 114). Monkfish Book Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Enlightenment and Inner Division

ep510-own-sss-adyashanti-6-949x534-2

This wisdom from Adyashanti gave me pause for thought today.

Adyashanti on Enlightenment and Inner Division

“Most human beings spend their lives battling with opposing inner forces: what they think they should do versus what they are doing; how they feel about themselves versus how they are; whether they think they’re right and worthy or wrong and unworthy.
The separate self is just the conglomeration of these opposing forces. When the self drops away, inner division drops away with it.

Now, I can’t say that I never make a mistake, because in this human world being enlightened doesn’t mean we become experts at everything. What does happen, though, is that personal motivations disappear.
Only when enlightenment occurs do we realize that virtually everything we did, from getting out of bed to going to work to being in a relationship to pursuing our pleasures and interests, was motivated by personal concern.
In the absence of a separate self, there’s no personal motivation to do anything. Life just moves us.

When personal motivation no longer drives us, then what’s left is our true nature, which naturally expresses itself on the human dimension as love or compassion.
Not a compassion that we cultivate or practice because we’re supposed to, but a compassion that arises spontaneously from our undivided state. If we undertake being a good, compassionate person as a personal identity, it just gets in the way of awakening.”

As we continue on this path, the inner conflict and critical inner voice lessens, then disappears. We come to a place of inner knowing and compassion for ourselves and the world. This is the motivation that will drive us for the rest of our lives.

Namaste

Ahimsa and Kindness

person holding clear and red floral ball

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Ahimsa or non violence is the foundation of all yoga philosophy. Most of us might think we are not violent people. We don’t go around bullying or hurting others or animals. We are loving and giving, and would never want to do any harm.

However, there are many ways that we unconsciously do “violence” on ourselves.

How often do you stay at your desk to get through your work without a break or refreshment? Are you pushing yourself to exhaustion?
Is your self talk kind and supportive, or do you judge yourself harshly and put yourself down?

To paraphrase Gandhi’s words “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Being forgiving and compassionate to yourself is the essential step to practicing ahimsa in the world.

This is fundamental for all of us on the path of yoga.
We must start with ourselves and allow the past damage of inner violence to heal.

Everything starts with our awareness of it.
Here are ways to bring about more awareness and change.

Decide to commit for one day to notice your internal conversations. Take time to journal and capture your thoughts.
At the end of the day. What did you notice? Is it time to change your conversation?
How can you start every thought with kindness?

An other practice is Loving Kindness Meditation. If your usual meditation is guided or based on mindfulness or mantra, commit to a loving kindness practice instead.Choose words that resonate with you.

May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you free of trouble and the causes of trouble
May you live your life with ease

metta-prayer

Inspiration – Resisting

person wearing orange hoodie

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“It may look as if the situation is creating the suffering, but ultimately this is not so – your resistance is.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

Have you ever  had a reaction of “What do you mean I’m resisting? … They are the problem!”

We are all human beings with egos that are ready to duck and weave… push back and dismiss… defend or withdraw, in order to avoid feeling the pain of being wrong, not being accepted or not being good enough.

This is one of those seemingly simple statements from Eckhart Tolle that has a greater depth of meaning.

When we get frustrated and unhappy, instead of resenting what is happening to us, wishing things to be different and attacking the nearest bystander or ourselves for being stupid, we can step back with awareness.

We can ask ourselves questions such as “What is it that I am not accepting?” “What am I resisting?” Then “What can I do to change the situation?” (Bear in mind that you cannot change an other person, only yourself.) “What can I do differently here?” “Can I bring about change or accept the way things are”.

An other way to look at this is to recognize that the resistance is already within us. It’s usually in the beliefs that we hold about ourselves and life in general. When we come across something which threatens how we see the world, our ego will react to protect itself. We get triggered.

Every time we are triggered, it’s an opportunity to learn and to educate ourselves on what we hold dear to ourselves and our values. It’s also an opportunity to explore those beliefs and see if they are meaningful, or are based on early conditioning. Perhaps the other perspective is actually worth considering!

It really is all about us and our inner world.

When our ego defends and attacks the outer world; when we blame the other and create enemies in our mind; when we become judge and jury for everything that doesn’t comply with our thinking, then it is time to stop, take a few deep breaths and begin to search inside ourselves.

Self inquiry is the work of our lives.

Listen to Your Body – its Listening to You

The words we choose in our thinking, our speech and our writing, impact on how we feel and our overall well being.

abstract board game bundle business

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Have you ever noticed how a word can bring up a certain feeling inside of you? A sensation, a thought or an emotion?

Choosing a word that connects with your heart and soul can be not only uplifting, but also brings physical well being.

If you have a few moments, let’s explore.

Take your time as you connect to each of the words below. Go slowly. You can say them out loud:

Love
Tender
Soothing
Joy
Cuddle
Grateful
Smile
Gentle
Pause here and close your eyes. What is alive in you in this moment? Is there a warmth, softening, a feeling of tenderness or love perhaps? How is your breathing? Are you smiling? (me too) Notice how these words manifest themselves in your mind body and spirit.

pauseNow take a deep breath and take the same time connecting to each of these words:
Irritated
Ugly
Mean
Wrong
Frustrated
Cruel
Unfair
Bad
Pause here and close your eyes. What is alive in you in this moment? Is there tension or constriction or heaviness perhaps? How is your breathing? Notice how these words manifest themselves in your mind body and spirit.

pauseIn general when it is a word associated with lack, dis-ease, suffering or violence, our body responds by becoming tense, our breath shallows and there is resistance.

In western medicine when there is resistance in our body it leads to inflammation, and increases our level of stress. These are both proven factors for ill health.

I believe in western medicine, and I also believe in that when there is constriction and tension our life energy contracts as well, and a part of inner state becomes blocked. This impacts our emotional and physical wellness.

In yoga, when the life energy (prana) is blocked it can be released with postures, breathing exercises (pranayama) and meditation. In Chinese medicine these blockages in Qi can be released through acupuncture.

pause and listen to your body

No matter what we believe in our minds, our body has its own kind of intelligence.

Listen to your body’s wisdom.

Be mindful of your thoughts and your words. Your body is always listening.