My last post shared 3 ways to leave your ego outside the studio. As with any aspect of yoga, taming the ego is a practice. It requires patience, repetition and dedication. It also benefits from setting time aside to focus on mindfulness and meditation.
I spent a few days at Samye Ling, in Scotland, recently, and discovered the power of stepping outside of routine to silence the ego. Samye Ling is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery and instruction centre that teaches in meditation and philosophy, among other things.
It was an amazing escape from the bustle and busy-ness of every day life. Ego is largely fuelled by our feeling of separation from others. We have our needs, wants and goals; other people are more or less important to us depending on how they fit into our agenda. In the stunning natural surroundings of Samye Ling this whole aspect of competitiveness slipped away.
Instead of to do lists, our days focused on meditation, prayer, yoga and silence. We were encouraged to keep speech to a minimum in order to maintain a state of meditation. Instead of chatting during meals we ate mindfully, thinking about where the food came from, the people who prepared it, and how it was nourishing our bodies.
This contemplative time was amazing and deeply emotional. It made me think about how much of our ego is driven by being disconnected from our true self. When we’re in a state of hurry, anxiety and competition the ego gets bigger and bigger because it feels the need to defend “our” space. When we slow down and nurture ourselves it is easier to be mindful of and silence ego-driven thoughts. Kindness and compassion come more easily, enabling us to silence the “me, me, me” and look beyond ourselves.
My days at Samye Ling were a wonderful opportunity to practice leaving my ego at the door. If a full-on silent retreat sounds like too much, you could always try an online meditation course, a visit to a local Buddhist centre or other spiritual place, or read spiritual books…
I’d love to hear your thoughts on taming the ego — please share in the comments!