Apparently yoga and meditation boost one's ego. Or sense of oneself. When we start the spiritual journey, our sense of oneself certainly does increase. No doubt about it. And for most, we start to feel and behaviour in a more holistic way. But, sadly, this doesn't apply to everyone.
What is ego?
There is a demi-god, called Papa Purusha, who is intimately involved with the qualities of difficult emotions. Many of which are not exactly helpful emotions, like anger, jealousy. Who amongst us has not known these emotions? In Maori, this Atua/God is known as Whiro.
These difficult emotions are intricately woven into what is known as ego. When one is following a good spiritual path, these difficult qualities gradually become less forceful, they somehow disappear, bit by bit, into the ether. The ties that bind us to the difficulties, they should become less strong. And correspondingly, our more "positive" emotions come more to the forefront of our "ego".
My Tohunga teacher (Maori spiritual guide), Ruatau Perez, says that our ego is how we outwardly express energy. This has been the best explanation that I have ever heard for ego. It implies that we have a choice with ego, of how we choose to be.
Either way, our emotions are what are behind the ego, as a driving force.
And the energy behind this outward expression, comes from within. And what then moves this energy, is from many sources. As explained below.
Where does our ego come from?
Ego is one of the components of mind, The everyday mind, mostly. I venture to suggest that ego is not just from our thoughts, but rather, also from:
- Our feelings. Never, ever, underestimate the effect that our feelings have on us. Never. Ever. Often feelings are quite subtle, but they are always there. All the good ones, and also the more difficult ones, like anger.
- Memories. Our memories are tied up with our feelings. Good, bad. There are a myriad of feelings hidden inside of us, many of which we may find difficult to define.
- "Bad" memories are stored in our bodies. Yes - who knew? Yoga has an overemphasis on The Mind, which is such a little part of us, and my own ashram training was that our thoughts create our sense of self, our ego. Well, no. This is not exactly true. These "bad" memories have feelings around them, and these feelings can often be quite hidden. As an example: recently, I saw a childhood photo of myself, and then a few hours later, I realised after seeing it, that I had then sunk into a mire of extreme insecurity and other similar disturbing feelings. Which of course were triggered off by hidden feelings from about the age that I was in that photo. These feelings went through my whole psyche and I'm including my body and thoughts in the psyche bit, too. I went to the Maori healing clinic which I work in, and those crippling feelings lifted as the emotions were released from my body.
- Our state of mind. Yes, I am including this here. If you read the above example, you will see that my state of mind was also affected by my feelings which had emerged. But actually, my whole being was affected, not just the mind aspect. (Just to make this clear)
- The effects of our life journey. So this includes the way that we were brought up, the experiences that we undergo, and the effects of our upbringing and experiences. These experiences and effects have a massive part to play in expression of ego
- Our own personal nature that we were born with. All babies start to express their own little personal quirks which have come with them into their new life, fairly quickly.
How should the ego be expressed, from yoga, and from meditation?
Yoga increases the ego. It increases the sense of oneself, and what and whom we each think that we are. Which can be either a positive, meaning beneficial, experience. Or a negative one, meaning that one is not being a decent human being. Although the research about yoga, meditation and ego, was actually looking at specific beneficial factors, not the "negative" expression of energy as ego. We all have a choice about how we choose to express ourselves, and this, from myself as a spiritual seeker, a healer, and someone who has done hundreds of regressions, is the real choice in a lifetime.
What benefits should yoga, and meditation, give us?
And this includes any spiritual path....!
And this includes any spiritual path....!
- We should feel better emotionally
- We should be happier, from the hormones released into our system from the yoga poses, and from the feel-good effects on the nervous system in the brain, and in the gut
- We should be thinking clearer, from the deep, slow, breathing which slows down our thoughts and calms our feelings
- Our expression of energy, our ego, should be a beneficial expression. If it is not, then one is doing something "wrong" with the yoga. My long yoga experience also taught me that it also means that we are being taught the wrong type of yoga for ourselves, when it doesn't make us feel good about ourselves. I learnt this many decades ago, from Dr Swami Gitananda, and it became a sort of a measure with me.