sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkara asevitah drdhabhumih
Practice for a long time with devotion and enthusiasm.
We’re about a 1/4 of the way into Patanjali’s prescription for how I can end my suffering in my lifetime. And here’s a key point to his formula. Are ya ready??
And there you have it — the ancient secret of yoga masters of mysterious lands and exotic cultures. Get off your duff, or get on it, and enough with the chit-chat and the fluffy distractions – PRACTICE. And when you’re done that — PRACTICE some more. And Tomorrow too. And the next day. And next year, while you’re at it. And when you don’t feel like practicing any more — practice anyway.
If I desire a mind that is free from fluctuations, if I want a tranquil and stable outlook on life, if I want to see the world as it really is instead of being bounced between my memories and my fantasy life, there’s a price to be paid. And the price of admission for all to the State of Yoga is practice.
In that respect, yoga is very egalitarian. It exacts the same toll from prince and pauper alike. I get there because I earn it. No matter how advanced my own teacher is, no matter how famous my guru, at the end of the day, I can reach the state of yoga by my own merits alone. The fruits of yoga comes to those who work for it. The State of Yoga cannot be purchased at Lululemon — regardless of their advertising budget.
Now that said, let’s be clear about something right up front. Maintaining a persistent practice is not always a comfortable thing to do. There are elements of my life – certain habitual responses to situations – that I’m very attached to. I like some of my slothful ways. They’re comfortable in their familiarity. When I’m feeling vulnerable and somewhat insecure by the buffeting winds of change around me, I like the old, the tried and the true. It makes me feel safe.
And right there is where yoga usually becomes a pain in my backside, metaphorically speaking, because yoga is about shaking me out of my nice little neatly lined and cozy ruts. Yoga pushes me out of my comfort zones. It pushes my boundaries and my edges and the places where I’m stuck. This is a true for postural work as it is for any other practice. When I do a standing forward bend, I naturally roll to the left. The right shoulder drops first and I twist a little. When I do a yoga forward bend, with that consciously extended spine, paying attention to the details of the posture, I’m gently reworking the muscles of my back. The areas that are tight and pull me to the left are loosened. The areas that are weak and keep me from maintaining my posture are strengthened. I don’t notice it because it’s small, incremental change over a long period of time. That doesn’t make it any less effective.
And this goes for any practice we care to undertake. Meditation, chant, pranayama, practices of study, practices of self-less service. A little at a time but the key is consistency.
And how do I do this? According to my mother, God rest her soul, I have an inalienable right to be just as miserable as I want to be. That was one of her most cited “Mom-isms”. She was quick to remind her children that it’s seldom the “doing” that’s the problem; it’s our attitude towards it.
It is entirely possible for me to ‘flop, drop and whine’ about my need to practice yoga. I can make every encounter with it difficult, tedious and the absolutely worst thing about my day. All I have to do is adopt a lousy attitude towards it. And shhaaZZAMMMMM, it will be miserable. Guaranteed.
Second option: I can chose to see it as a positive moment of my day. I can greet my practice, be it postural or meditative, study or pranayama, with a happy mind, an adventurous spirit, a lightness of heart – or in the words of the sutra .. with devotion and enthusiasm.
In other words, if I’m going to commit to the path of yoga, there’s nothing saying I can’t enjoy the journey. Suffering needlessly doesn’t bring me any closer to the goal of ending my suffering, which just makes sense when it’s put that way.
Until later, thanks for reading and Namaste,