You may remember the “Leggo My Egg-O” commercials from the 80’s, featuring America’s favorite breakfast… Waffles. Today I ask the Gods above to help ME “Leggo My Egg-O” meaning…”Let Go of My EGO”.
My ego is my monkey mind. The leading factor in all that causes suffering (duhkha). My ego is often confused about who I am and what/how/why I am!? It causes pain, distress, or a feeling of dissatisfaction, superiority or inferiority. Yoga is all about getting out of monkey mind and into our true selves (atman). It is about discovering our true nature and the meaning of humility by letting go of the ego.
Some of you may be familiar with this image out of every Freshman year psychology book:
The ego is such a SMALL part of what we are and yet it takes up such a large part of the way we think and act… the solution to getting right sized? Don’t ever over-estimate or underestimate yourself. For many people living in today’s world, filled with illusion (maya), there is a fine line between being an ego maniac and an insecure wreck. It is so necessary to find the sweet spot. The place where we are right sized.
Yoga master Nischala Joy Devi brings it back to the very beginning of Patanjali’s yoga sutra….
Book I. Samadhi Pada:
Union with the Divine Self
Sutra 1.1 With Humility (an open heart and mind), we Embrace the
Sacred Study of Yoga.
This simple beginning holds many truths. Often this very first sutra is read quickly or even disregarded, which is unfortunate since this sutra is placed first to set the tone. It is here to remind us that our study and spiritual path benefit most when they are paved generously with humility.
With Humility (an open heart and mind), we Embrace the Sacred Study of Yoga.
I felt a need to write on this topic because I recently had an interesting experience with my very own EGO. (Not that we don’t have them every day ;)… )
I taught a large power class to a group that didn’t know me. As it was advertised as a strong class I decided I would use my Ashtanga teacher training skills, from Hatha Yoga Mysore at Varkala beach, for the first time. Before teaching this class I was well aware I had never actually taught the series to a group outside of the training… plus the class at hand was an older group of students, thus I was nervous. Teaching the Ashtanga series 1 to a group that had never done it before was ambitious… maybe too ambitious? I didn’t know…My head was all caught up in what they would think of me. I didn’t want to sound flashy or arrogant, and yet I definitly didn’t want to seem insecure. Ego. Ego. Ego. After sitting quietly and getting centered, I started to get out of my ego and see the truth.
I knew they could do it. I knew I could teach it. I remembered that I know what I know for a reason and I am a yoga teacher to be of service. To HELP others. To share my love of the practice from my heart. So the solution to my ego is simple. Be myself… No bigger, no smaller. No pretending or pretense. SHARE my HEART and be LOVING. JUST TEACH! This small prayer got me back to my core and the class rocked.
A testament to the power of Leggo-ing your Egg-O? I walked into the studio feeling nervous and inadiquit, I sought out my inner core and thus left behind my monkey mind. I was able to tap in to my inner reserves and teach a magnificent class. After finishing a few students approached me to thank me for the class and to compliment me. I was humble enough to say “thank you.” I walked out of the same room feeling invigorated and content. Grateful for opportunities to learn, and my ever expanding understanding of self.
What if I hadn’t been complimented and the class wasn’t good? How would I have felt then? Georg Feuerstein states it well:
We can easily discover whether we are truly content and happy when we lose our job, have a marriage break up, or have a good friend suddenly turn against us (or get poor feedback on an art project/yoga class?). In the case of a great yoga master, these events will not cause as much as a ripple in the mind.
Perhaps thats another lesson awaiting me for another time? Did I feel content because of the praise or because of my own teaching and channeling of my inner-self? I believe that the reason we as a species ever feel satisfied in that professional way is because we EXPRESS our true selves. While I was teaching that class I was “in the zone” declaring appropriate cues with confidence, care, and love. It felt amazing to me because I was un-aware of my mind. We all know that feeling don’t we? When you get lost in computer editing, painting, writing, what ever it is for your own soul… you lose yourself (ego) in the process, look at the clock and wonder where the time went. We express our core spirit when we leggo the eggo and let it shine ;). And what an AMAZING feeling it is.
I’m well aware there are many gaps in my reasoning and many ways to get out of Ego and into the core…What do you think? How do you do it? 😉
—NISCHALA JOY DEVI, author of The Healing Path of Yoga and The Secret Power of Yoga, is an internationally renowned and masterful teacher reflecting the compassionate heart perspective in spirituality and scripture.
—Georg Feurstein, author of many many amazing yoga books. This excerpt is from The Deeper Dimension of Yoga. He is amazing… see: