Check Your Ego At The Door

dr̥g-darśana-śaktyor-ekātmata-iva-asmitā

False-identification is confusing the nature of the seer or Self with the nature of the instrument of perception. In other words, false identification happens when we mistake the mind, body, or senses for the true Self.  – Yoga Sutra II.6

So how does an ego-driven being check their ego at the door, anyway? The sutras offer some nice little maxims for posting on your social media platform… but really? Aren’t I ultimately just a product of my own drive to matter, to be the center of my own universe, to perpetually reinforce the stories I carry about myself and the world around me?

Yep. Sorta.

That’s why yoga.

Yoga (as in, the holistic system, of which asana plays a very small role) was designed to give us the opportunity to walk around the story-maker—the one that governs almost every one of our decisions—instead of standing in the center of it so that we may witness it from a distance.

The more I circle this egoic structure, the more space I’m able to make between my whole self and this I, me, mine clump.  With space I’m able to see my responses, my actions more clearly and be less pushed by my grooves and imprints (samskaras) that steer my choices—most of them unconscious. Collectively, these samskaras take a form. That form exists in the place where I’d like to create space for fluidity, adaptability, changeableness, openness. Awareness of my formless nature. Spaciousness.

That’s why yoga.

To circle myself, to make space to witness, is at the same time to dig into the structure of my ego. To examine what the sutras call asmita: afflictions of the mind that keep us from seeing our true nature. Because it’s only through that deep attention to form that I can begin to wear it down a little. It’s only through that deep attention to the shape of my own stories—I am this person, I only do this form of yoga, this belongs to me, this is being done to me—that I can wear those down as well. Slowly, to begin to reshape them.

That’s why yoga.

Because ultimately, attention is a kind of gentle erosion of hard patterns and identifications. With intention. With attention. With curiosity. My practice (sadhana) is about making friends with this egoic structure as I come to know it more intimately in the larger context of this life I’m living. It’s about recognizing that I can “make friends” with it because… well, I’m NOT only it, I’m it, and… I’m the Self that’s walking around it. Sometimes misidentifying with it, yeah. But every once in a great while, recognizing my wholeness.

And that is why Yoga.

om,

 

 

 

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