Thursday, September 9, 2010

Less Ego = Less Effort

The class I took today was introduced with the idea that the authentic self might not require so much ego at the center of everything. That this idea of "I" could actually get in the way of the yoga practice! Perhaps it is the way that thoughts have of turning towards judgment, comparison or criticism when they focus on the self. Maybe its that slight fictional quality of the way the mind looks at the self that tampers with the experience in the moment. It was interesting to pay attention to information that arose about the ego throughout the asana sequences, throughout the remembering and forgetting of the breath, in the middle of extending from the toe mound of the little toe or from the base of the spine, while finding one side responding differently than the other.

One remarkable effect of this little bit of attention to when and how the ego stepped in, or commented, was to notice how little it did for the practice. That judgmental quality, even the "wow this is better than I thought" idea, does not bring more energy or less stress to the physical self. What does it do for the emotional self? Is it useful in some other way? A question to investigate for yourself. I found that letting go of the ego, the mind, the "how do I look now" of the asana, the "what will this hip do" part too, relaxed me even within the strenuous qualities of sustaining or moving my body. My mind seemed relieved of that duty, and begin to notice new things about the breathing in the room, about the textures of the sounds, and even about my own alignment.

It is hard to let go of the competition with oneself, fears of what judgments from other's might be, and of the measuring of one's self against everyone and everything that seems outside the self. It is just as hard to let go of the grasping towards the story the mind wants to tell. If we can allow ourselves to understand that this is story and not the experience in this moment, it takes a lot less effort to swim through the hard stuff. There is resistance to letting go of the separations and definitions, even the concepts of "good" and "bad" or "flexible" and "inflexible." Without the judging, comparing, critical mind, what is simply is what it is. This might be more breaths in headstand than you ever thought you could do. It might mean falling over in an attempt to revolve your Ardha Chandrasana. Yet without the ego, it is effortless to move in and out of these situations. There is no pain or shame or inflated expectation involved. It is this freedom of taking things just as they are ... in a state of constant flux and possibility -- where effortless effort comes to life.

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