There's a strange tendency to imagine that others have their act together when I feel that I do not. I see this as my ego fighting for attention. The idea that I seek to be judging myself, that I imagine myself to have any way of measuring or assessing the condition of others, are a product of ego and the craving for distinctness, for separateness and, yes, identity. This is part of what has become visible or clear in yoga and meditation practice.
Yoga is a humbling activity. I may discover incredible open spaces and be reassured by the fact that my body continues to move and respond to my queries about energy and muscle, about positive and negative aspects of being. I also become acutely aware that all there is to me is my breathing and my ever-varying levels of willingness to be aware. There is nothing about this that is global in scope, it is quite personal. There is nothing grand or powerful in this, it is really the good part of that speck in the universe feeling, perhaps a sparkling speck, but speck nonetheless.
My practice connects me to a universal energy and awareness, both widens and narrows my attention, and puts me into a context that is vast, but it is the small self, the individual person on the sidewalk walking, who experiences these frames of reference. I feel it intensely in my teaching and when I take classes from others. My breath may join with all the beings in the room, my cells may share their composition and reactivity with everyone else, but there is still that person, THAT person, who grew up wearing my face and feeling my feelings and that person is the one through which I am sorting out the world outside and inside.
I don't get lost staring at my own belly-button, so to speak. It's not that kind of Ego with a capital E. But I think it is important to acknowledge and understand -- just as I do with each one of my students -- that it is through this body, this set of experiences and patterns, that the freedom comes. The path is not outside of my self, it requires my very specific self to take the walk in order to see the way.