Taming the Ugly Ego: Workaway #6

The ugly ego!! It rears it’s ugly head in and out of our lives and never gives up!! 

The ego reminds me of the time we witnessed a traditional Spanish bull fight. During the course of the fight, the bull was impaled in the middle of his back by multiple banderillas (barbed sticks). At one point, the bull was covered in blood, had a sword sticking out of it’s shoulder blades and it still kept fighting. The bull fell to it’s knees several times and kept getting back up. It was struggling but it was relentless.

This is the ugly ego. It fights to stay in control and to stay alive. Sometimes it feels like a million swords can’t keep it down. The point being: it’s not easy taming the ego, but necessary if we want to live a more present and fulfilled life. Taming the ego is something I learned during our sixth Workaway in Australia.

The Ugly Ego

So what exactly is the ugly ego? It’s not the over-confident, self-centered, muscles popping out of shirt type of guy who we might say is “egotistical” (although I’m sure he does have the ego present, cause we all do). There are a lot of definitions out there, but to me, the ego represents that little voice inside your head that tells us to judge ourselves and others. 

It’s the voice that keeps us miserable, anxious, ungrateful and hating ourselves. It’s the voice that says we’re not good enough or strong enough or smart enough. It keeps us locked inside our own little world and prevents us from being in the present moment. It keeps us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future and never lets us enjoy the present moment. The ego can be relentless in it’s ability to control our lives.

What I learned through Workaway 

Our sixth Workaway was located an hour and half northwest of Sydney, by train. It was tucked into what the Australians call, “The Bush.” This place was known as Swami’s Yoga Retreat.

From the minute we turned down the driveway, I knew I was going to be happy. This place was gorgeous. Swami Sarasvati was a big deal in Australia decades ago. She has written multiple books about yoga and was one of the original people to bring mainstream yoga to Australia.

Now-a-day the retreat center is run by volunteers and Swami’s son, Sanjay. The experience of working there was incredible. First off, the refrigerator was always stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables. There were hammocks and hiking trails all over the property and there was a pool, a hot tub and a sauna.

Then there was the yoga; the real reason most of the guests came the Swami’s. There were two yoga classes a day and meditation several times a week. After finishing our “work” for the day, we were allowed to attend all of the classes. I never missed one!!

Things were really great at Swami’s. The work wasn’t too hard and most of the other 12 volunteers were great! 

However, slowly I started feeling some angst and irritation with some of the other volunteers. Instead of expressing my anger, I had to dig a little deeper to really figure out what was going on.

I determined that a lot of these annoyances were coming from the ego. “I” would get annoyed and downright angry when “I” felt like the other volunteers weren’t working as hard as me. Or “I” would get disappointed when my expectations at Swami’s and their communication was not met.

It even goes further than that. During this Workaway, I recognized when “I” live in a place of “I”, I am sabotaging my own happiness by worrying about what others are doing, instead of living from a place of service. In fact, I realized that I’ve been living in this place my whole life. Hence, I’ve been sabotaging my own happiness as a result. The damn ego has been taking away my ability to be happy my whole life!

Letting go

Since I was at a yoga and mediation retreat center, I was determined not to let the ego screw this up for me. With the help of yoga and meditation, I began to shift my thinking. I was able to weed out the negative thoughts created by the ego and started to work from a place of “we” instead of “I.”

I started to think of these Workaways as a way to give back. I started to ignore what everybody else was doing and just concentrated on the task at hand. As I shifted my perspective from the “I” to the “we,” there was no room for the ego. The ego dies once we shift to the collective. The collective is all we have. This was an eye opening experience.

Conclusion

It takes a lot of practice and internal work to keep the ego under control. After looking back at a lot of these Workaway situations, the ego has been a strong presence in my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve allowed the ego to ruin my happiness and sabotage my life for way too long. If you pay close enough attention, traveling can open many doors and opportunities for us to learn and grow. It doesn’t happen over night and it will take some work. Luckily, Swami’s gave me the time to find stillness and reflect on the ever-present ego that needed to be tamed for a life of happiness.

Let us know what you think and if you want to read our previous post about Traveling is a Privilege, click here.

Thanks for reading and following along!!

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