I’m serious. I know it’s hard to say the ego is the root of all negativity, because outside factors do play a role in the negativity that affects one’s life. I firmly believe, however, that most negativity is rooted in one’s ego.
Think about it…anytime you’re down, sad, frustrated, angry, jealous (especially), regretful, uncomfortable…isn’t it usually stemming from or in part comprised of some egotistical thoughts?
I’m not good enough…she’s better than me…I didn’t dress cute enough…what I just said sounded stupid…I should have handled that differently…if I could just get it right the first time…but he told me I was the only one for him…but I worked so hard…should I say something or will it make me look stupid…
Any of that sound familiar? Feel free to insert your own one liners. It’s incredibly difficult to detach from the ego. I learned this weekend, while spending a great deal of time yabbering aloud (giving myself ample opportunity to hear the ego popping up in and out of sentences like the stinkin’ groundhog on Saturday), that the ego sincerely permeates every pore of our lives…if we let it.
I say it all the time, we are in control of our lives. Suffering is a choice. Happiness, too, is a choice. “Wallowing” is something I fall victim too frequently, it’s just so damn satisfying! There’s naturally a fine line between pushing past an emotion without acknowledging it, and wallowing in it longer than necessary. I’m an advocate of feeling our feelings fully, both good and bad. One can only feel as joyful as one has felt unhappy. The yin and the yang. If an emotion is denied, the marrow of a life lesson is missed. Feeling a feeling before bidding it farewell is essential. If something upsetting or sad occurs, it’s not only okay but necessary to sink into it for a bit, to really feel the melancholy. That’s the best way to process and then move on from it. Same goes for being happy! You know the people who feel guilty for being happy? Perhaps they’ve lost someone or they have a traumatizing past, and when something happy occurs they don’t feel it 100%? It’s the same thing. BE happy! Be de-freaking-lighted! It’s those shreds of joy that we carry around in our hearts and which shine in when the shadows of sorrow fall, keeping the darkness from swallowing us up whole.
The ego is the tinkerer at work when we wallow. It’s saying, oh but this is deliciously punishing to wallow in this sadness. When you begin to move on and make peace it is the voice that interrupts you saying, yeah but remember what you were upset about yesterday, isn’t it so awful… We must develop coping mechanisms to, for lack of better words, shut the ego the funk up.
This is why we practice yoga! Many don’t even know it, but the true practice of yoga is not about the asana, it’s not about the physicality. It’s about the mind. Controlling the mind, regulating the mind, quieting the mind. The ego is the root of nearly all yoga injuries too, my own included. Even after all these years I still struggle with my ego on the mat! The ego goes with us wherever we go, like Peter Pan’s shadow after Wendy sewn it to his heels. But can we detach from it? Can we tear those little threads from our heels and flit off to Never Never Land, leaving the whispy dark little ego behind?
I believe we can. I believe with conscious, consistent practice, we can snap those threads and fly. Soar, even. We can live a life free of egotistical thoughts. We can unhook our ship from the anchor of self-depricating, doubt-ridden, negativity-breeding egotism.
What else can we do, apart from our yoga practice? Well, remember a yoga practice is existent on and off the mat. It’s truly in every breath we take, the conscious act of living with intention, with a purpose of doing good, being good, and refusing to participate in the wrestling match of the mind and heart.
Let’s not finish here expecting an overnight overhaul of our thought patterns. The ego has been with us too long for that. It will never fully disappear, but we can fly away from it so as to only hear it’s muffled shouting from the ground if we so choose. I propose we begin the process by simply heightening our awareness. Let’s try this week to start listening and watching for the ego. Watch where it pops up physically, listen for where it pops up verbally, observe where it pops up mentally. Practice non-judgment, simple be aware. It is in awareness that the seeds of change are planted. Think of this week as fertilizer for the soil. Tilling of the soil. Preparing it for what you want to grow. The garden of freedom from negative thought patterns. Think of the potential. We’ll likely spend a long time practicing this, a few steps forward, a step back here and there. But it’s the dance, the process, the journey…it’s the awareness, and the intention that matter.
My teacher always says, “The mind and body can be the most powerful tools to live a happy and fulfilling life.”
Can be. The mind and body are tools, inherently, for living a happy and fulfilling life. But it’s up to us to pick them up, to see them as such, and to use them.
Let’s get to building.
Image found: http://www.kindovermatter.com/2012/05/starve-ego-feed-soul-free-desktop.html