What are you doing for me, Ego?

Since Christmas I have been listening to numerous webinars about growth and change, and they seem to have culminated this week in a few epiphanies. In an abundance webinar by Christie Marie Sheldon, she talked about how our bodies are in a constant state of changing as it balances the information coming to us from our environment. As we receive this information, we are constantly tweaking our systems to keep them operating at optimum level. When we establish habits, we are going against nature to create a set pattern and to hold that pattern without changing.
Habits are our way of creating routine, mindless action, familiarity in chaos, recognizable patterns. These habits are important for repeated actions and for establishing daily routines. But, what if these habits are there because the ego wants to control our development? What if these habits are not really protecting us in a good way? What if they are protecting us from growing and learning? What if the “mindless action” means we become removed from the moment and function from rote learning? What if our survival instincts are not serving us correctly, and the ego is holding us in this constant pattern? That is a lot to think about, and perhaps what will send someone back into the habits for security and denial of responsibility.
It was an incredible insight to me that change is our natural way of being. At what point in our lives did change become a hardship, an undesirable pattern, and something to be avoided? At what point did we find it ok to say: “I can’t change quickly, I need to take baby steps”. What is that, if the pattern is not serving us well?
Many students I work with are challenged by their physical capabilities and by their weight. Let’s have a look at what happens when the ego becomes involved in decision making around these two valuable life lessons.
Individuals who have bodies that are tight, weak, with poor posture, injury, surgery, and in pain, are living with patterns that they have established over a long period of time. Poor posture could have begun as a young child and progressed through to adulthood. The patterns of moving may have been to slouch so as not to appear too tall, or to sit into the hips and push the shoulders back to not to appear too eager in a conversation, or to stand on one hip and turn the toes out because it made the shoes look better. Whatever the case, over time the body has begun to wear. It has created pain in the joints, lower back issues with little strength, and a shrinkage in the body. Surgery might be a possibility, and pain killers keep everything at bay. Walking is recommended, so people go walking, but use the poor posture stance while they do. Something has to be done. But what? People with posture and movement challenges usually have coordination patterns that don’t synchronize and which make movement feel awkward. They try a fitness class, yoga, pilates, Tai Chi, dance and they just feel like a clutz. They worry that other people will be watching and judging them. The ego is worried that it is being threatened and the exercising stops. Perhaps a treadmill or a stationary bicycle is purchased to do some exercise at home in privacy, this is much safer for the ego, but it is not exciting. It does not have the energy and determination of a class with a motivating leader, and pretty soon the fitness equipment is collecting dust. The ego has blocked change and saved emotions. It has also held on to comfort by blocking the movement that is challenging. Success. But what success? The body is still in pain, it still is not moving well, and surgery is now imminent.
What happens if the ego is put to the side and the body is served what it deserves? Change! What if exercise class feels awkward and unattainable, but you persist? What if you search out the instructors who can get you to a new posture, a new strength, a new way of moving? What if you persisted and pushed through the feeling of discoordination? What if you developed some new skills? The possibilities are endless. Health, movement, a feeling of completion, of success over coordination, of new activity possibilities because of the changes you have created in your own body.
Here is a specific example. The foundations of Tai Chi require the participant to have proper posture. The Tai Chi stance is the first thing a new student will learn. Stand on both feet equally, feet shoulder width apart and toes facing straight forward. If there is a tightness in the hip, many people will have the toes “naturally” turn out. It isn’t natural, it is a tight Psoas and Illiacus muscle that is pulling the toes out, and a Fascia Lata muscle that is not responding as it should. This is a pattern that needs to be changed and returned to normal. Then, the knees need to be relaxed and fluid (with the ability to easily bounce on them). By standing at K1, the “Bubbling Springs”, or in the middle of the foot just below the ball of the foot, the body finds its place of spring. Many people roll back into their heels and lock up their knees. This can often be the result of the Quad or Thigh muscles not having enough strength to hold the knees in place and other muscles trying to do the job. Normal might feel like having the knees swinging back, but movement is not natural from this place. Change is necessary to protect the knee joints. Next, moving up the spine. The Shoulders should be placed over the hips, the knees and the ankles. The majority of people have some kind of a sway where the shoulders are behind the hips and the head is tilted forward to compensate. Some of this is the result of improper posture sitting at the computer or watching television, which we do for very long periods of time each day. When people are adjusted to a straight and lifted spine, they feel like they are going to topple forward. This couldn’t possibly be natural?! Yes, it is and the body needs to change to protect itself. Lastly, the spine needs to be lifted and lengthened straight up through the back of the neck to the head. Many people as they get older, slouch or squish down in the ribs. The Latissimus Dorsi is a muscle that influences this posture with the assistance of many other muscles, if it is not functioning properly we are told we are shrinking. The spine needs to be lifted and strengthened to support strong movement and flexibility for the whole body’s well-being. Change is necessary.
With proper posture discovered, the ego is working to hold on to its confidence. Now movement is added with a few patterns that will coordinate hands, feet, spine, head, legs etc. The movements may challenge directions that are not usually used, like side to side, back to front etc. This may feel awkward and unrecognizable in the body. The ego can try to protect itself by making the participant feel uncomfortable and wanting to save face with all the other people in the room (who, incidentally, are feeling the same way and are self-absorbed). “This is not something I want to be doing” starts playing in the head. “Just quit” it is easier than being made a fool. “I don’t have patience to wait for the body to figure out the new moves” is quickly added. Anything can be said to get out of chaos and back to routine and normalcy. But, habit is what has gotten the body into its mess, and chaos is what needs to happen to get the body out of the mess and into a new pattern that supports the body. The ego has to be laid to rest for a while, and it can come back from its “time out” when it is ready to be supportive and play. And, what are the rewards for this determination and persistence. A new body. Feet that don’t hurt to be walked on. Knees that are strong and can bend easily. A back that can turn and lift and flex without pain or stiffness. A neck that can turn to shoulder check in the car. A body that is more flexible and strong because of the moves it has successful mastered and adopted to bring it to a new place of health. Now the ego jumps back in to reap the rewards. I am coordinated. I am strong. I am flexible. I can coordinate movement. What a difference the body can experience, and what healing can happen for the body as new patterns are adopted and old patterns are discarded. Change is inevitable, it just has to be determined if it is to support or to hinder the body.
Weight Loss. What a huge and ominous word. Everyone is bombarded by its message in the media each day. Everyone thinks about their look, their capabilities etc. So many messages play in our heads from our childhood, our family dynamics, our emotions, our present situation, or dreams etc. Weight loss is emotionally charged and ever present in our minds. The ego has ways to defend itself. Such phrases as: “I am just big boned”, “I have allergies”, “I need to eat these things to give me energy or a boost”, “I don’t need to watch my weight”, “No matter what I do nothing changes”. I am sure these phrases have been heard in some way before. And, the ego helps us to hide behind them. It wants us to be able to satisfy our emotional needs first. It wants to maintain an equilibrium of patterns and habits that keeps the body in its present state. It wants the power to play the recordings of our past to keep us from moving forward. We need change.
A phrase that I hear a lot is that “I can’t take that out of my diet, I need to take baby steps”. It is like an alcoholic, some things need to be completely removed or the little bits just lead back to the bigger bits. One glass of wine leads to the bottle, and one piece of chocolate leads to the cake. It is about health. It is about what is going to support the body. In Touch for Health we use a tool called “Muscle Testing” to determine if a food is going to support the body or take energy from the body. What would you prefer to be eating? Would you like to eat something that is going to make you strong and help you to function optimally through the day, or would you like to eat foods that are going to drain you and require you to take other foods to try and boost you up, like a caffeine choice or sugar? If you muscle check and determine that wheat is going to drain your body, why would you insist on keeping it in the food choices for breakfast? If toast is going to drain you, what a hard way to start the day. Perhaps having a Ryvita cracker with some Almond Butter will provide you with energy and you could get right into your goals for the day. Do you want to keep the habit, or do you want to grow and learn and change? What if sugar was feeding the Candida Yeast that is gripping your body and causing cravings, headaches, aching joints, digestive challenges and more, (the list is very long for the symptoms of Candida). Would you insist that you put jam on your toast because that is the way you always eat breakfast, or would you shift to the Ryvita cracker and the protein rich Almond Butter? Would you add sugar to your sauces or use premixed sauces that contain sugar to enjoy the sweetness you have become accustomed to, so you can feed the Candida cravings; or, could you switch to using herbs that could provide you with a full palette of flavors and their own sweetness? Do you need dessert, or is it a habit? Once you start muscle checking, it is amazing how the nutritional choices change and how much better the body begins to feel. When you listen, the body responds with a clear mind, energy, vitality, and health.
So, we are creatures of habit? We prefer to find patterns that keep us from changing? We like predictability? No, we are creatures of constant change and balance. We are striving for the health and longevity we desire. We enjoy feeling good. We enjoy a body that moves easily and can accomplish our goals. We desire change. We desire mastery of skills. We crave health. We have choice and we can make anything happen. We have to look beyond our desire to maintain the status quo, and look towards why we are here. Look at the experiences life has to offer us, and the many ways that we can enjoy each day and the choices we make. New is good. Challenge is growing. Change is inevitable, we just have to take it in the right direction.

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