What if I told you I could show you the value of your ego in your spiritual development? If I said that following your ego will help you to discover your own sacredness, would you believe me?
The ego has become misunderstood in recent years. Harkening back to the Freudian concept, the ego is the part of your mind that balances your desires with what is reasonably attainable. It is the part of your mind that can truly be called “the self.” It is within this self that the deepest and most important of the sacred mysteries wait.
There is an old Hindu spiritual teaching called “The Snake and the Rope.” As the tale goes, a man walks into a dark room and sees something coiled on the floor. In a gut reaction he mistakes a coiled rope to be a coiled snake. When he collects his frantic energy enough to turn on the lights and the darkness vanishes, what is illuminated is the true nature of the object. This analogy for mistaken identities and meanings is as applicable on your yoga mat as it is in your life.
The first time I took a live yoga class, at age 12 or 13, I remember hearing some strange, prayer-like, exotic word come out of my teacher’s mouth. Everyone echoed it back, and it made me uncomfortable. It didn’t stop me from going back, but I did kind of feel “left out,” as I didn’t know what they were saying, what it meant, or if it was the name of a god or other deity. Frankly, it sounded kind of religious, and I was definitely not into god-stuff at that point in my ’tweendom.
When my teacher told me what Namaste meant (“I bow to the god within you”) and how to pronounce it (Nah- Mah-Stay), it didn’t necessarily make the phrase any easier for me to embrace. But the social pressure of “call and response” soon won me over. I attended very small classes in Santa Fe, and any non-compliant Namaste’ers would be very obvious to the teacher and other students. At first it barely rolled out of my lips, a garbled rumble of vowels with slight hiss in the middle. I had no way of knowing that a decade later, I would be the one at the front of the room offering the same salutation to my classes.
Meditation does not come naturally — at least, not to me. I’m easily distracted, there are a million things on my “mom mind” and I feel a little guilty when I’m not doing something productive. But I work at Gaiam: I have seen the benefits with my very own eyes, and the reasons to meditate are convincing! Besides, I work at Gaiam: Shouldn’t I at least try meditating?