quiet the mind

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When we are on the mat we all know the theory: breathe consciously, align your body in the postures and still your mind. But as soon as you start moving and the asanas become more complex, many well-known voices immediately appear: "that's complicated", "I can't handle that", "try harder", "I have to get it", "I would have to..." , "I should…". The recurring demons that come back again and again, the comparison with the one next door, when not with yourself at other times in your life. The demand, the desire to flee or abandon, etc. The ego, accept. Your intimate enemy.

The ego is usually shown as an enemy to fight against. It has multiple forms, control, demand, abandonment or comparison among others. But it is also a fundamental part of our nature, because we realize that we exist as individuals.

Even if you have a very advanced practice, it always takes new forms. We are not only talking about the ego for showing off or showing ourselves out with the most acrobatic postures possible (how much damage has Instagram done), but about much more subtle states. Sometimes, as a result of the knowledge acquired by thousands of repetitions, you know which specific muscle to stretch, where to direct your attention and your gaze, where to take your hands and how far to go. With these thoughts he has already caught us again. Every day you improve a little more in treating yourself with more gentleness, in doing from a more humble and goalless place. And, always, through some nook and cranny, the ego finds its way. He likes to be in control, because that's another aspect of him.

It doesn't matter your flexibility or your strength, or if it's a simple balasana or a more advanced posture like pincha mayurasana. At the moment you set a goal for yourself, or analyze whether the posture will be right or not (oh, the judgment, another of its appearances), it seems that the ego will never leave you. And as much as teachers repeat: "listen to your body", "do according to your possibilities", "what is good for you is enough", "you don't have to get anywhere" there is something internal that resists let go.

In general, everything arises from a very entrenched idea in Western society, the need to achieve. The progress of any practice is measured by setting goals, overcoming limitations and looking for the new challenge to overcome. Hence, the sensations that you are not doing yoga often appear until you are able to reach a posture. But, that only feeds the ego, insatiable in its conquests that as it reaches one it is already looking for the next one. Fortunately, yoga is not about that, as Jigar Gor puts it very well:

"Yoga is not about touching your feet with your head, but about everything you learn until it happens."

So we tend to consider our ego as an enemy. Like another obstacle to overcome or conquer. And again the ego has dominated us. But we can also consider the ego as something necessary. And, only by being able to recognize our individual being, the self-awareness that is natural, will we be able to make our journey of spiritual search. The ego is therefore good and bad at the same time. Since we exist in the physical and corporeal plane we have a sense of self and everything with which we identify that self. It is the characters created around him that turns him against us. The ego is partly what makes us continue on the path of the spiritual search, find the path that makes us connect with our pure essence and makes us transcend it.

In the yoga sutras two terms appear to refer to the ego. One is hamkara, which is a part of the mental structure that gives us the feeling of the self, of the individual. the other is asmita, the ego understood as the center of everything, an egocentrism that makes us believe that only our point of view exists, that we have the truth and the reason, that everything should be based on our beliefs. Asmita is considered one of the kleshas, the origins of suffering. And following the teachings of Patanjali, the function of yoga is to suppress mental fluctuations, including that ego that dominates our actions.

Because there is also teacher's ego, the one who wants to be the great motivator, the one who teaches you to improve yourself and achieve incredible postures or the one who is the possessor of the absolute truth. Each one needs to understand their own truth, to understand that we are not this body, nor this mind, nor this created character. For me, the most advanced postures are those that lead you to greater concentration and equanimity, to a deeper knowledge of yourself that transforms how your day to day is, even if on the mat it seems like a simple tadasana.

Shutting down the ego does not mean that all the personality that we have created over the years disappears overnight, but rather that we make friends with it in order to be able to choose consciously.

Therefore the ego is inevitable, it is part of our existence in the earthly world. But it is also what allows us to experience the world. Following on from Patanjali (YS 2.18) drsya, the perceivable world, is meant to be experienced and liberated. To be able to transit the world, one must be able to understand that this life is sensory and is there to be experienced and then seek liberation. It is essential then to unlearn all the demonizing beliefs about the ego and about ourselves. Unlearn what we think we are because we are not our ego. However, we can give full validity to our individual perceptions, to empower ourselves with our senses and decisions. Feel consciously.

That is why one does not get rid of the ego. You can see him as a traveling companion who will be with you for life. We can befriend their tricks and their intentions, and the more we know about them, the easier it is for us not to fall for them. The more humility and kindness I put into what I do, the more likely I won't get caught. It is through becoming aware, in the act of becoming aware, that I can detach myself from the internal voice that pulls me, I can disidentify myself from what I think I am, and see myself more as the spectator of all that farce. Consciousness is a spectator, not the subject.

So the more I can discern which part is genuine and which comes from a runaway self (asmita), the more I empower myself, the more I listen to and respect myself. The voices will reappear, the desire to achieve will arise again, but I will be gaining the ability to decide something different, that is more in tune with myself. As Indra Devi says:

“Yoga is a path of liberation. Constant practice frees us from fear, loneliness and anguish” all fruit of the belief of the self.

What I have learned about the ego and what I like to convey in my classes is that it will always be there. I have learned to enjoy physical practice, without forcing or demanding myself, because when I want to go further than my body allows me at any given time, it is not me, but my ego. By being able to observe him, by realizing his game, then I can choose to return to the space of care, to selfless action that does not lead me to fall into extremes, respecting my body, to be aware.

And so, when he is not in control, when I act from my essence, for a moment I have managed to silence my ego.

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