Your Ego is Not Your Amigo

IV. 4 nirmanachittani asmitamatrat   Constructed of created mind springs from the sense of individuality.

Finally, the door started to open with this sutra.

Our ego creates a division between ourselves and others and creates a sense of separateness. It is responsible for making us think that we are different from everyone else. And with that division comes all sorts of insecurities and uncertainties. We then begin to speak and act in accordance with this idea that we are different, that no one understands our challenges, and that life is really too difficult to live. Fear then rules our actions. We react to the “what ifs” that spring from this ego-constructed mind. Our chests tighten, breath shortens, and necks shorten with growing tension. Arrgggh!

Years ago, I was plagued with anxiety attacks. Anyone in my shoes would have surely suffered the same. My mentor at the time suggested that for every “what if”, I simply ask a follow up question. “Then what?” This trick is still part of my daily thought process.

Moods and opinions are something we have to work with. We have to learn to observe and identify instead of reacting always. The purity of who we are is veiled and discolored with reactions. These reactions define us in the world. Reactions and opinions give us individuality. When we have such strong reactions to life, we trick ourselves into reassuring our insecurities. And it is our insecurities that veil our true selves. Instead of shooting into the dark, we learn to shoot from the hip, and then eventually to not shoot at all.

Easy peasy.

The moral of the story is that as much as we like to feel special, it’s the ego that creates that division between ourselves and others. Following our ego leads us down a dark and lonely path. An important step in liberation is to identify when we’ve invited our ego to take the wheel.

Wednesday Morning Practice – 7/25/12

Today’s morning class was a good one! For those interested, here’s the sequence:

1. Supta Tadasana (Reclining Mountain Pose) w/ arm variations at wall

  • Lie down with feet on wall, knees bent; straighten legs by pressing inner heel to wall
  • Urdhva Hastasana arms with palms facing and arms straight; make arms as long as you can as you take thumbs to the floor overhead
  • Urdhva Baddanguliyasana arms with fingers interlaced; make arms as long as you can as you take thumbs to the floor overhead (change interlace)

We had a little teaching moment (thanks to Frank and Pam for demo) to see how important the work of the hands and arms is to help break up the concrete in the upper back. REMEMBER:

  • Keep fingers interlaced evenly from pinky-side to pointer-side
  • Widen base of wrist and heel of palm
  • Turn outer edge of armpits to ceiling and inner edge of armpits to floor

2. Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Feet)

  • We used the strap around the heels to help raise and lower the legs to 30/60 degrees and then to hover; then, we freestyled with no strap!

3. Supta Utkatasana (Reclining Powerful Pose)

  • Feet at wall, knees bent, arms overhead
  • Nail inner heels to wall, squeeze inner thighs together, draw navel in and lift back ribs to thumbs and front ribs to pinkies

4. Utkatasana (Powerful Pose) with ropes

  • Facing the wall, grab each side of the high rope withe one hand
  • Nail inner heels to floor, squeeze inner thighs together, draw navel in and lift back ribs to thumbs and front ribs to pinkies – WHILE lowering hips and buttocks towards the floor.

5. Utkatasana (Powerful Pose)

  • Freestyle!

6. Slanting Uttanasana (Intense Stretch/Standing Forward Bend) at wall

  • Legs straight, heels out, hips to wall – RELAX neck and eyes

7. Chatushpadasana (Four-Footed Pose) w/ two blankets, block, and strap

  • Head on the floor, shoulders on blankets, block between the thighs, feet hip width apart, and strap around the ankles
  • Raise and lower hips using same actions from before: inner heels down, thighs together, navel in
  • THEN – turn upper arms out and tuck shoulders under the upper back

8. Ardha Halasana (Half-Plough Pose) to chair

  • Add another blanket or two (or three) to the stack
  • From the same actions in Chatushpadasana, get shape of shoulders tucked and chest wide, then tuck knees and take feet to chair
  • Use hands to life skin on back to tail, nail elbows down

9. Savasana (Corpse Pose)

  • Ahhhhhh… yes. We used a thin blanket under the head and put legs on the chair. In any set up, make sure that you are set in a way that you can be still. Allow your breath to maintain its natural rhythm – both the volume and the speed of the breath.