One of the important facets of Yoga is a clear, focused mind. You are to remove the events of the day and focus inward. Sometimes I seriously doubt my ability to accomplish them. Today was one of those days. I entered the studio and sat cross-legged on my mat. As I focused on my reflection in the mirror, all I could see was something resembling a blowfish. Every part of me appeared puffy - face, stomach, arms, legs and most of all, my eyes. Terrific. Focus. "Inner Demon, are you there? Time for you to leave.... or if you plan on staying, at least be productive and help me concentrate. Thanks... so much."
So, what, you might ask, is my inner demon? Well, I have this overwhelming self-centeredness that seems to take over my entire being, and I seem not to be able to stop it. This is why I know that my daughter is a better person than I am. She is inherently good, instinctively empathetic, and almost always puts others before herself. This is the child who has spent her entire allowance/paycheck/bank account balance on - (choose one: birthday gift, Christmas gift, or my personal favorite - Friend In Crisis and Needs a Pick-Me-Up Gift) since the age of eight.
I'd like to think that I am gaining control over this demon as I age but then when it strikes, I feel like nothing has changed and I'm back where I was in my twenties when I was living every moment of my existence like this. When it happens, it's almost like an out-of-body experience. After I realize that it has happened, it is actually physically painful - like being punched in the gut or having your heart twisted - or both depending on the identity of my latest "victim". I've spent a long time trying to figure out what has made me this way, and finally I gave up and just thought I'd better do something to control it. I think I'm doing better than ever before. I shouldn't be so hard on myself, but it just hurts so damn bad when it happens.
So, on days when my inner demon has won a battle, Yoga seems to remove the pain and self-hatred from my mind. Peace is restored, at least temporarily. The question then becomes - am I doing this for self-improvement or is it the ultimate act of self-indulgence?