The mat is rolled out on the floor behind me. It’s been there for the last….6 hours? … and still my feet haven’t landed on it in any sense of the word. I’m avoiding practice today like my mat was infested with scorpions. Worse yet, I’m self-aware enough to know I’m avoiding.
How many excuses can I cook up today for mat-avoidance-itis? Probably a good half dozen without breaking stride. It’s hot. I’m lazy. My feet hurt. It’s Wednesday. I had word from a friend about her most unhappy news and my heart is breaking for her and her husband. I have a headache.
All perfectly good reasons for avoiding doing my practice. So what’s eventually going to drag my feet to the mat? Partly, I suppose it’s something called discipline. A “We do yoga because we do yoga” kind of mentality. Don’t laugh — it got me through about 3 months of my teacher’s training. Fact is, both mind and body are too scattered for me to find my way to the mat today.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I hear this echo from the Sutras. Abhyasa and vairagya. The aphorism I.12 is a bit of a smack upside the head right now. Using the Bernard Bouanchaud translation:
Control over the mind’s fluctuations comes from persevering practice and non-attachment. (PYS: 1.12)
In short, I’ve spent the last 6 hours gamely trying to put the cart before the horse. It’s not about getting my head clear enough to practice. It’s the practice that’s going to make my head clear. The excuses are starting to look a little lamer by the nanosecond.
One of the things I like about the Bouanchaud translation (The Essence of Yoga, 1997 — out of print in North America, still available at a reasonable cost in India) is each aphorism has a list of questions for the reader to ask him or herself about the meaning of the Sutra. Here’s one of the questions he poses about this one:
To what extent does persevering practice help or hinder my daily life?
Now there’s something for me to think about and if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go visit the mat.