A brief explanation of the concepts of Ego, Universe and Integration
Let's Be Selfish
The message that often gets misconstrued as we discuss the practices of Yoga is that it is a practice of selflessness. True: we are to practice Karma Yoga by being in service to others. True: we should detach from desire and let go of that which we grasp. True: ultimately we will realize that all that we think is true is false and reality is an illusion.
Also True: we are Ego driven, Kosha limited, human beings. Our current situation is the result of the fact that we are influenced by the fluctuations of nature (Gunas) and our own consistution (Dosha). Realizing this, observing its effects and changing our behaviors is our basic goal for now. Therefore, we have to be selfish. We have to focus on ourselves, first.
When teaching the concepts of self (Ego) and Self (Atma), I like to relate them to the way in which humans have evolved to understand the universe. First, we thought the Earth was flat. Then, we thought the Earth was the center of the universe. Then, we thought there was only the Milkway Galaxy. Then, we realized there is so much more.
The self (Ego, I-ness or Individual) is who you are now. You perceive the world based upon what you think is important (the Earth is the center of all things). You are the most important thing. Therefore, everything else revolves around you.
The Self (Atma) is a tiny piece in the grand, gigantic, enormous, universe. It plays a part that is both of value, but also minor in the grand scheme of things. It is made up of all the stuff that surrounds it and, it's its own way is a tiny universe in itself (the Milkyway). It is both unaffected by the Ego and also hidden by it.
You know that video that starts out with the viewfinder on one individual or tiny speck and then pans out for what seems like forever until it has broadened the view to contain the the entire universe? That last part, when it's panned out as far as it can go; that's Brahman.
Once we realize that we are "chips off the old block" of something bigger (Atma), then we can begin to See the whole picture. Before, we were caught up in wants, desires, thoughts, nature, perception, etc. (Ego). Realization, observation and detachment has revealed that all that stuff is unreal; illusion. Now we can see. It's as though our vision has panned out from that tiny speck to envelop the entire universe.
Bliss sounds great, but integration sounds better. Would you rather be all zoned out and disconnected or fully aware and detached? This is the difference between bliss and integration. Samadhi is made up of two words: Sama meaning "same" and Dhi meaning "reflection" or "perception." Samadhi is the the ability to see sameness among everything.
When I first started learning about Samadhi it was translated as bliss. In my mind I imagined that I would be in this happy, joyful, euphoric mindset; that every experience would be wonderful. The deeper I dove into understanding Samadhi, the more I realized it isn't a state of bliss. It is a state of integration; a state of contentment. You reach a level of awareness that allows you to stop "sweating the small stuff." You get to participate, observe and be present without having attachments to emotion, energetic fluctuation or mindful chatter.
Want to learn more about the traditional practices of Raja and Hatha Yoga and how to integrate them into your life? Join us at LTY.
It can be difficult to put your self into someone else's shoes. As our situation changes, so does our focus. Try these practices to help you remain aware of others while still focusing upon your needs.
Yoga teaches us to focus upon the moments in-between experiences. Before getting out of your car, stepping into a building or space, or beginning a conversation take a moment to pause. Just as we pause before entering into the second side of a posture, we must do the same before transitioning from one activity or experience to another. Pause and give yourself a moment before entering into the next moment.
You may be on vacation and in a mindset of enjoying yourself, but that doesn't mean that everyone around you is experiencing the same state of mind. Your vacation is likely infiltrated with people ready to provide you with information, materials and opportunities. All of these people are working. Reflect upon how you would like to be treated while at work. Let those who are working know that you value what they do.
When you return to work, reflect upon how it felt to be away. Revisit those moments that made you smile or during which you felt content. Reflect upon moments in your day that are similar.
Dependent upon our primary focus we will see different things. When you are out on the beach you might not notice the napkins that just flew away from your picnic. While celebrating with your friends you may not take the time to search for that bottle cap that flipped out of your hand.
Carry a trash bag wherever you go. Once you arrive at your location observe the space around you before you set up and after you have packed up your belongings. Take the time to clean up the space. Look around you and enjoy how beautiful the space looks and your part in keeping it clean.
Read & Review
When participating in activities that require you to read information regarding how to prepare, where to meet and what to do prior to joining in it's important that you read all of the details. Before you book, when you receive your confirmation email, and before heading out on any adventure, take the time to read the details about what you are endeavoring to do.
Many experiences require that you complete a waiver form. Doing so ahead of time will save everyone time. The meeting location may not be completely obvious. Double check the directions to make sure you have reviewed every detail. Review the information about how to prepare or what to bring so you don't have to run back to the car or leave your belongings in an unsafe place. Arrive prepared and knowledgeable and the experience will be that much better for everyone.
If you're interested in learning more about mindfulness and the lifestyle of Yoga join the practices at LTY.
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