It is helpful to know where your ego is and how it is formed to understand how to let it go. The ego is a construct of the mind. Your ego forms as a source of identification. It is your response to the question, “Who are you?” It is the persona that you develop to deal with life.
Your ego is just a collection of thoughts that you identify with.
The problem is that the ego is based on false identification. We often identify with our thoughts by confusing our thoughts for who we are. This is why we allow our thoughts to define our life. We have a thought and then react to it. The more we react, the stronger the identification becomes.
This is how habits become addictions. Once we have these addictions, we try to replace the thoughts with other thoughts.
We have the addiction to some behavior; our mind then repeats the thought: “I need _______.” After a particular amount of time, we then try to break the addiction by replacing one thought with another. Instead of saying, “I need _______,” we replace the thought with, “I don’t need _______.”
Aversion and addiction are equally attachments; they are both attachments to thoughts. Similarly, the ego is based on an attachment to a collection of thoughts.
Many people understand that they aren’t their mind or body, but instead they are a spiritual being having a human experience. However, they only understand this intellectually. There are many aspects of the ego that they unknowingly and knowingly identify with.
The phrase “I am” is dangerous.
“I am” is a phrase that sets you up for false identifications and future states of depression. It is this type of identification that has the potential to lock you into a role. It limits the vision you have of yourself and in turn restricts your life experiences.
Depression is the result of a conscious or unconscious awareness of a false identification that no longer fits your life and is difficult to let go of.
Most depression comes from an attachment to an aspect of the ego that no longer works as the persona. This false identification is based on the ego, a collection of thoughts that you identify with.
For example, you say, I am a husband, wife, homeowner, executive, etc. The stronger you identify with these ideas of who you think you are, the more prone you are to depression. The deeper and more valued the identification, the more difficult it will be to get out of the depression.
The problem occurs because the value of self is attached to an identification of an aspect of the ego. For example, a person loses a job that made them feel important. This person falls into a depression because their feeling of importance was attached to this identification; this was where they saw their value.
This often happens when people end a relationship, lose their job, retire, or have some other big change in their life that disrupts the cohesiveness of the ego.
Depression is a process of an expanding consciousness through spiritual awareness and growth. ~Amarjit Singh
Think of it like a baby that is suffering because its teeth are growing through the gums. Once the teeth are grown in, the baby is stronger and can participate in life more fully by eating a wider variety of foods. This is part of growing.
This is depression: an expansion of the mind through the guidance of the emotions that provides a deeper, more authentic connection between the soul and this human life. Depression is an opportunity to let go of the person you thought you were to get closer to realizing the spiritual being you are.
Identifying with the thoughts that constitute your ego limits your experiences. How you envision yourself determines your path. Your perception of who you think you are is the only thing that changes.
You look into a mirror, literally and/or figuratively, and perceive yourself a particular way. Then your actions fall inline with this perception. This is why the more limited the perception you have of yourself, the less varied your experiences in life will be.
Let go of the ego.
The physical aspects of yoga are the starting point for learning to let go.
The more flexible your body is, the more flexible your mind is. The more flexible your mind is, the easier it is to change patterns.
Let go of strict definitions.
We often put economics and comfort above experience because it is hard for the ego to let go of the things that we built up as a representation of our life. We feel it is “going backwards” if our economic or living situation is reduced. We then cling to these things to support our ego.
Engage in experiences that lie outside your comfort zone.
We tend to draw boundaries on our experiences through our self-perception and identification. We judge ourselves in relation to experiences.
We say things like, “I could never see myself doing that, ” or “that isn’t me. ” We also restrict our experiences when we identify with culture, groups, sexes, nationalities, etc. We say things like, “my culture doesn’t do _______,” or “this is against the norms of _______.”
A major step in the process of yoga is the understanding on an experiential level that you are not your mind.
Once the yogi experiences this, it makes it easier to let go of false identification with thoughts, and the ego, getting closer to experiencing the authentic self.