Monday Morning Mantra | It's Not All About Me

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I was stuck in traffic the other day. On my way to teach a yoga class (or course), the highway turned into a parking lot and my mind turned first to panic, I’m going to be late. I’ll have to call the studio…could anyone there sub for me? – then to anger: what the $%#& is going on up there? Why can’t people drive, anyway?

And then I realized what a jerk I was being, acting as if the whole situation was just one big inconvenience to me. I looked around and realized that I was surrounded by probably hundreds of people, and that everyone else around me was equally important, equally inconvenienced – and that all of us were actually lucky compared to the people involved in the wreck up ahead. I had a moment of sanity: this situation is not all about me.

It’s not about me at all. I realized that the world doesn’t revolve around me and my convenience. Thank goodness. Rarely is anything really about us anyway – it’s just that our ego, our sense of me tells us otherwise. Not being at the center of the universe is actually much easier. Consider how difficult life is when we demand that the world serve us – how improbable that is. We are just asking for disappointment.

If we see ourselves in context – as tiny specks of dust in an infinite universe, we can take our emotional ups and downs, our ego fits and pity parties much less seriously. And we can choose to serve the well-being of the universe instead. Instead of focusing on all the ways we are inconvenienced or dissatisfied in the present moment, we can step back and consider the bigger context. We can remember that we are just a tiny part of the whole, and choose to do something helpful. It’s not about me helps us not take everything so darn personally all the time and lighten up. And when we can let go of our need to have things go our way, we actually experience more freedom, and ultimately more power.

We are not so dependent on external situations to make us happy. Letting go of our resistance to situations allows us to relax, and see more clearly. We see that the ultimate source of our contentment, joy and peace of mind lies within us.

This is one way to practice Isvara Pranidhana, or surrender, outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. When we let go of our little self, we can experience being part of a greater Self, which is far more rewarding than anything our ego had in mind. In case you were wondering, I did eventually get to that yoga class on time: a bit rushed, but humbled, and ready to serve my students. Ego out of the way. Priorities in place.

Because it’s not about me.

Stephanie carter

Stephanie Carter is a yoga teacher/psychologist in San Antonio, TX, and is the Director of the Esther Vexler Yoga School. She began practicing yoga and meditation over 20 years ago as a way to manage stress while working on her Ph.D. While working in the state mental hospital system, she began teaching yoga to fellow staff members and realized the potential in ...READ MORE