December 20, 2011

Hello, My Name is Julia and I’m An Ego-holic. ~ Julia McCabe

Photo: Anonymous

Insert: “Hello Julia” for those of you who are sitting around the proverbial ego-holic table right now and are feeling the need to respond.

I was born with it. I will always live with it and right now I currently accept it.

My ego just begrudgingly “ahem’d” and would like to introduce herself. I will type on her behalf. First of all, she would like to say that she’s quite pissed off at me. She dislikes any attention that isn’t positively empowering her in any way and that we should be honored that she’s even speaking to us. She would like to point out that she hates the name she’s been given – Ego. Quite frankly, she finds it passe and overused since Oprah littered the globe in the mid 90’s with all of those self-help books. She is currently considering re-naming herself like when Prince recreated himself as the “unpronounceable syllable” coupled with an artistic hand gesture a.k.a. The Artist Formerly known as Prince.

(She would also like to point out that she is better than Prince). She likes it when people agree with everything she says. She gets pissed off when people disagree with her, rightly so, seeing as everything she says is perfect. She dislikes rules, regulations, convention, people who don’t like her, people who do like her because she questions what they must want from her, “naysayers” and anything or anyone that she finds lame, boring, not amusing enough and/or is stunting her growth.

She knows everything about everything – therefore other people’s insight are of no use to her (however, she ironically depends upon them and would be useless without other people) and she’s pissed off that I just interrupted her to tell you that.

She told me I can proceed writing about her but that I better say something good with Godspeed otherwise all hell is going to break loose. Oh – and she would like to point out (with a smile) that you have one of her too except it’s in your brain, not mine…and again, she’d like to remind you that her brain is better than yours.

Humans. We were born with a brain and a layering of a mental landscape so deep and ironically unimportant in the big picture, that we are the dumbest and most arrogant species on the planet. (Sarcastic, Negative Brain who read Ishmael is talking). However, it is a landscape that we can peacefully navigate thanks to the school and practices of yoga (Hopeful Optimistic Brain wins).

In the world of yoga, the landscape of the mind is often divided in three parts: the Manas, the Ahamkara, and the Buddhi. To simplify it, imagine three random people, each representing all of the three parts.

They are sitting on a black leather sofa in your head’s living room right now and are staring at a massive cake… and you are allergic to gluten. (This explanation is a ridiculous rewording of Iyengar’s “bowl of ice cream” in Light on Life.  I’m about to bastardize it, however, my Ego is re-wording it for you now. She wanted to claim it to be her own but my Buddhi wouldn’t let her, but I digress).

Okay, so imagine a black leather sofa, large decadent cake and a coffee table.  Your Manas is the black/white, this and that Chatty-Cathy kind of person, is volatile and has the nature of a monkey throwing shit around in her own cage. She is saying, “This is a leather sofa, that is a coffee table, it is made of wood, there is a cake on it, it is chocolate, the couch is black, the room is cold, the people next to me are called Ahamkara and Buddhi.”

Your Ahamkara is your Ego or I-Sense (the star of the said blog) she is saying, “This is my couch.  These are my friends. I like leather. This is my room. That is my coffee table. I like chocolate. I will eat the cake because I like it. I am talking. I own this house.”

The Manas pipe up again and agrees with Ahamkara that it is true, that you do indeed like cake, therefore they support your decision to eat it despite the whole gluten and sugar factor.

Buddhi, however, who is sitting in lotus position, smiles quietly while Manas and Ahamkara are saddling up with their forks in the ready. She puts her arms around them and says, “Remember the last time we ate an entire cake to ourselves?  I will remind you, we puked and had to go to the hospital. Neither of you felt that great about it. So how about we skip out on the cake for now, read a book and call it a night?”

By moving your body, twisting, balancing, studying, meditating and breathing, in turn you are giving your higher intellect a chance to breathe as well. Eventually you begin to understand the flame of your ego and its very nature. Insert awareness and mindfulness.

You begin to notice situations where you may react or respond in a similar pattern every single time when things haven’t been working out for you. Watch yourself like you’re a character on a screen the next time you feel threatened, angry, jealous etc, and see if you are able to actually pause when your Ahamkara and Manas pipe up in the heat of a situation (because they always will).

Realize that you have a choice: you can be aware of your typical patterns, recognize when you are being dramatic, unnecessary, over-reactive and delusional…take a moment, sit with it, and then let it go for fricksake. Your life may begin to feel more peaceful. The truth is, we are all enlightened beings covered with a bit of dust. We all have the ability to get out of the dysfunctional relationship we have within our inner selves.

For example, I wanted to tell someone to F*ck Off and where to put it today but I didn’t because I realized it was my juvenile angry side wanting to control a situation because my Ego was being threatened. So I sat with it for a moment, told my Ahamkara and Manas to calm down, refused to feed the situation with the aforementioned F*ck Off, and in turn, the situation dissolved and so did my Ahamkara.

Things got quieter and even though it took a few minutes, I felt better. Easier said then done, of course. The temporary pleasure of indulging in my dragon fire British DNA of swearing like a sailor would have been dead energy. Telling that person to F*ck Off would only further ingrain in their mind that the world sucks, that even a yoga teacher dislikes them and that they should maybe make someone else’s day not so good.

The reason why I teach and continue to teach is because of these obvious (yet not-obvious) teachings that yoga offers. My friend Paige once said, “It’s not like we come outta the womb and a rule book to life is handed to us.” So true!  How to deal with the nature of our mind and emotions are topics that are poorly missed in primary school, university and many religions.

The internal choices we make are even more important than the external ones (like buying a home, getting married, playing a part at work) because we are the ones who have to live in our own heads – no one else is talking to you up there. You can create your own inner heaven or your own inner hell – all based on one thought and internal choice and the matrix of events that follow can be fascinating.

Naysayers may say we are going down the tubes fast and furious. Screwed. Apocalyptic stuff. But I (we, and many of you) think the opposite is true. Love is our nature. Doing shitty things to ourselves and each other is not. It’s just easy to forget how quickly we can catapult into loves opposite, that’s all. We are like wee babies waking up and quickly remembering. I’m doing what I do, for who knows how long, as a siren call for you and me both, baby. I need to hear your call back, like wolves in a pack. It’s all the way or not at all.

It may not sound glamorous but it’s for real.

Julia McCabe has been teaching and practicing yoga since 2001, with her beginnings at Neoalpine/YYoga in Whistler, B.C, Canada.

 She has taught at Pure Yoga, Hong Kong, assisted and taught with with renegade yogi, Patrick Creelman (Anusara), studied in Thailand with Paul Dallaghan as well as with Sri Tiwari Ji – the kind grandfather, pranayama master and teacher of teachers. Her other influences include her mom, dad and sister, all school teachers and some of the best. Good friends and fellow teachers, Kristin Campbell, her Whistler sister and Paige Faraci who took her under her graceful wing in Asia. Ana Forrest, Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, Carlos Pomeda, John Friend and many others in the Vancouver community have also been powerful forces for Julia. It is difficult for her to pledge her devotion to only one guru or school as there are so many that she respects and continues to learn from. The bigger the palette, the more colors to choose from, is Julia’s theory. Julia currently lives in Whistler, BC, teaching at YYoga/Neoalpine and Whistler’s Core. She holds workshops and teacher trainings year round and is also deep in the throes of writing a book about her experiences living and teaching in Asia. Julia is currently accepting applications for her 2012, 200 hour Yoga Alliance immersions in the art and science of yoga: March 1-41, Whistler, BC; May 12-June 2, Mexico; October 15-November 5, Nicaragua.

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