the llama blog
practicing yoga off the mat.
Planning any trips, I always jump on TripAdvisor for tips and suggestions on restaurants and attractions. It is filled with critics who give their opinions on customer service, food, best times to visit and overall quality.
There’s also a critic that lives within us. She’s quick to tell us “Great job on folding the laundry before bedtime” or “You’re a bad person. I can’t believe what you said to your partner.” This critic’s name is the ego, and it likes drama – good and bad. It’s the inner voice that compares you to everyone else, and lets us know when we don’t measure up. Deepak Chopra defines the ego as “not who you really are. The ego is your self-image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing. Your social mask thrives on approval. It wants control, and it is sustained by power, because it lives in fear.” Just as all of these businesses on TripAdvisor depend on their outer impression so does your ego.
It’s hard to separate the mask from who we really are. I, myself, may identify as a woman, a wife, a daughter, a mother, a friend, a yoga teacher and so on. But really, what I am is just me. No titles. No definitions. Just me. I am.
Softening the ego’s grip, and taking the mask off is a process that can be achieved by everyone. Mindfully moving throughout your day and taking time to connect through meditation are deeper ways to bypass the ego and catch a glimpse of who you really are. Meditation teacher, Sharon Salzberg teaches a Loving-Kindness meditation, which I feel is a great first step to quieting the ego. Giving love to our self helps build trust and confidence removing much of the fear the ego feeds on.
Try this meditation on your own. Sit or lie comfortably with your spine long. Hands can rest on or beside the body. Repeat the following internally:
May I be safe.
May I be peaceful.
May I be filled with love.
May I be free.
On your second round, picture someone that you love dearly. Replace the “I” with their name. Continue the next round with picturing someone you have neutral feelings about or don’t know well such as a new neighbor, a barista or a teacher at your child’s school. On your last round, picture someone who you have strained relationship with. Notice how you feel in each round. What thoughts, judgements or emotions came up? Allow a moment to process these observations as many of them are tied to the ego.