Getting fooled by your ego and what it wants is easy in a world driven by consumerism and instant gratification. We often find ourselves chasing what is trendy rather than focusing on what is necessary for our personal growth and well-being. Pursuing what the ego desires can lead us astray from our authentic selves, hindering our progress and stifling our potential. What is best for us may differ from what everyone else is doing. Yet, we’ll bullshit ourselves into thinking our choices are justified. We find excuses to keep doing what isn’t working rather than make actual improvements.
we’ll bullshit ourselves into thinking our choices are justified. We find excuses to keep doing what isn’t working rather than make actual improvements.
The Illusion of Demand:
Demand is a construct perpetuated by societal influences, marketing strategies, and the ego's insatiable desire for external validation. It thrives on scarcity, which creates a false sense of urgency and the need to possess or achieve certain things. While demand may provide temporary satisfaction, it often distracts us from what is necessary for evolution and change. This is exemplified in the clash between the original disciplined yoga training and the demand created by Western yoga marketing.
From ancient traditions in the East, Yoga was initially intended as a holistic practice to cultivate personal growth, self-realization, inner transformation, and mastery over the mind. Yoga has transformed commercially in the Western world, driven by consumer culture. It has become popularized as a fitness trend, focusing primarily on physical postures and body aesthetics. The demand for yoga classes, products, and retreats often centers around physical fitness, external appearances, and achieving instant results. Yoga in the West is often only available to those who can afford it. This shift in emphasis has led to the dilution of yoga's original intention, where deeper aspects of a yoga practice, such as meditation, ethical principles, and self-inquiry, are often overshadowed.
Ego vs. What’s Necessary:
The ego, driven by the fear of missing out and the need for social acceptance, comfort, and survival, often dictates our desires, preferences, and actions. It urges us to seek instant gratification, acquire material possessions, blame others instead of looking inward, and pursue external achievements. However, succumbing to the ego's demands can lead us away from what is genuinely beneficial for our holistic development.
On the other hand, necessity arises from a deeper understanding of our true selves and long-term well-being. It involves identifying and fulfilling our fundamental needs for growth and discipline and utilizing time and effort for self-improvement. Training yourself in what is necessary will result in emotional well-being, personal growth, purpose, and fulfillment.
Surrendering the ego can be uncomfortable. But these necessary practices, like yoga, train your mind and nervous system to thrive during moments of discomfort. This means that the most challenging step is the first. Good thing I’ve got a hack for you.
These necessary practices, like yoga, train your mind and nervous system to thrive during moments of discomfort. This means that the most challenging step is the first.
The First Step is Awareness:
When I left India after studying there for several weeks, my teacher told me the most important thing I could bring to the West was the practice of awareness. Yoga is simply being aware and becoming an unbiased observer. You can use the simple practice of awareness as your first step into self-discipline.
We must become aware of our desires and motivations. This self-awareness allows us to differentiate between what is necessary for our development and what is merely a passing desire or societal expectation. Becoming aware without an emotional reaction empowers us to make conscious choices that align with our values and aspirations. From there, we can set boundaries, self-prioritize, and commit to necessary life training while understanding that personal growth is a lifelong journey that should be embraced at our own pace.
Set boundaries, self-prioritize, and commit to necessary life training while understanding that personal growth is a lifelong journey.
Time to Train:
Practice this 20-minute video and ask yourself the following questions to enhance your self-awareness and sharpen your bullshit meter:
(Remember, you are an unbiased observer of your ego. Be honest with yourself and acknowledge where you are without criticism.)
How do I feel about the breathing techniques versus the physical drills? Am I drawn more to one than the other?
How do I feel when the yoga drills are challenging or out of my comfort zone? Do I want to turn the video off?
What am I most afraid of about practicing yoga or meditation?
What “workout” or other activity would be better now than yoga, and why?
What is the first excuse I use to avoid practicing yoga?
At what point in this video do I want to stop and do something else? Can I identify why?