The Shattering of Ego
By Lorrie McLachlan
There comes a time in every yogi’s life when the practice merges with the spirit….when the postures are no longer just physical but metaphors for life….when the practice is more than our mat, philosophy books and hot yoga rooms. These can just become distractions on our journey to self. The true practice of yoga happens when we are unaware of it…..in our day-to-day interactions with life itself….when we are not “on” and in “spiritual” mode….whatever that means. Yoga is how we treat our kids when no one is looking. Yoga is how we react when a friend betrays us. Yoga is accepting and loving yourself exactly how you are right in this moment….despite all the things that you may despise about yourself.
Last night Spirit gave me the opportunity to live my yoga once again….with the shattering of my glass coffee table. After a long, tiring week of kids, classes and projects, I arrived to Sunday night feeling completely exhausted, overwhelmed and distracted. It was my cat George that brought me back to the here and now……a seven pound angel that jumped onto the table and knocked off the glass tabletop. I remember turning around and watching this unfold but was helpless to stop it. I remember watching that big slab of glass hit the floor and smash into a million pieces. I remember dagger-like shards of glass flying through the air like pieces of shrapnel in a war zone….and I remember bringing my hands to my face to protect myself while at the same time searching for my daughters who were only two feet away from the shattering glass.
Then nothing….stillness. The aftermath. I stood in the kitchen in my hippie bare feet and looked around. The kids were ok but were staring at me in horror and shock. There was glass…..every…..where. Couches, tables, countertops, dark corners of the room. I just stood there without saying a word and surveyed the room. This was the moment where I could have completely lost it but instead something strange happened. A sense of calmness started to creep through me….slowly, deliberately. I stood there in that space for a long time just focusing on my breath and feeling my feet ground me into the earth. This was my moment of choice. Do I choose light or dark? Do I react or respond? Ironically I chose neither. I chose to do nothing but to experience all the emotions that were starting to emerge from me….and this was not a conscious choice. It just happened. The first emotion to spew was anger. Red, hot, piercing anger. But I did nothing. I did nothing but allow that fiery rage to rumble through me like a volcano. I just stayed grounded and let it flow. Then came overwhelm. Tumultuous waves of helplessness and defeat washed over me. But I stayed in the moment…this was exactly where I was supposed to be. Sadness followed and I allowed myself to cry. Not self-pity tears but just tears of letting go. Surrender. Surrender. And so I did. Finally came acceptance. No protests. No attempts to change the situation. Just a sense of knowingness that this was ok. So I continued to breathe and sat down at the table, laid my head in my arms and closed my eyes. I merged with the breath and remained in stillness for a long time.
When I felt that all the emotions had run through me, I stood up and put on my boots. It was time to clean up. I found a big box and for the next two hours and with conscious awareness, I picked up every piece of glass and mindfully placed it within the box. There was no anger. No frustration. I felt gratitude for the opportunity to self-reflect. I was grateful that my daughters had not been hurt by the flying glass. I was grateful that this didn’t happen earlier in the evening when a friend was over with his young daughter. And I was so blessed to have this opportunity to truly live through my heart center. Perhaps the shattering of the glass table meant the final shattering of my ego. No more separation. No more me and you. No more being slave to that brutal taskmaster the mind. Or perhaps this is still the ego talking? I like to believe though that I have loosened its grip just a little bit.
As I sit here on my mat typing into my laptop and with the full intention of practicing yoga this morning, I realize that maybe this is my practice today. No physical practice needed. I am already there. I think it’s time to roll up my mat and start my day.
Something to consider. Perhaps as yogis, we should stop unrolling our mats so much and start opening our hearts and awareness instead. This is where the true sweetness of practice lies.