1.21 – tivra samvega asannah
For those impelled by intense ardour, the goal is near – translation by Bernard Bouanchaud
Those who pursue their practices with intensity of feeling, vigour, and firm conviction achieve concentration and the fruits thereof more quickly, compared to those of medium or lesser intensity. – translation by Swami J.
Here’s the good news – Yoga is for everyone, regardless of circumstance. If you can breathe, you can do yoga. And equally, the results –a sense of wellness, wholeness, unity of experience — are available to everyone
Is there a catch? Well, of course there is… you have to actually DO it. Reading a book about yoga, writing a blog column about yoga, debating the relative merits of yoga approach X over yoga approach Y, thinking about why you maybe should do yoga … none of these activities are a substitute for actually doing yoga, and by doing yoga, I’m not restricting the field to asana or postural practice.
For my purposes, “doing yoga” is an expression that encapsulates the idea of being fully present, body, mind and spirit, in the present moment, in the here and now, fully engaged in reality, not lost in either memory or fantasy. I can be in the most perfectly technically sculptured yoga posture in the known universe but if I’m constructing my grocery list while I’m there, I’m not doing yoga. One of the teaching expressions I’ve heard, attributed to Desikachar, is that “when you’ve lost your mind, you’ve lost your yoga’.
Whatever you’re doing, do it fully. If you are doing Downward Facing Dog, be fully present in that posture. If you’re the dishes, fully do the dishes. Or be fully present sweeping the floor. What those of us in the West now refer to as “Mindfulness” is not a technique that was invented yesterday. It’s been around for centuries.
Athletes get this aphorism. They know that the Boston Marathon doesn’t run itself. If I want to get into the game, I have to get into the game. If I want to run a marathon, I have to train and that means with my sneakers on. I can’t read a book about running. I can’t debate the relative merits of running. I have to DO it. One foot in front of the other; repeat as necessary.
So if I want the benefits of yoga and meditation (and really, at this point they are synonymous), I have to practice on a daily basis. Keeping in mind the points made in the previous aphorism – shradda – faith, I set my course and then I stick to it.
Athletes get this. If his biography is to be believed, Lance Armstrong did not make it to the top of his field by sitting around reading books about cycling. He got on a bike and worked intensely, with single-minded purpose towards his goals.
In order for us to achieve, we must sacrifice the effort. And the rest of the good news – the results are closer than we think when we apply ourselves. Again, it all comes back to what we discussed before abhyasa and vairagya – put in the effort, let go of the results.
And if you’re really hungry for it, pursue it with passion.
That’s all for this week. This topic continues into next week, so see you then.
Thanks for reading and Namaste,