As with any journey, the journey of exploring who you are can start only after you decide that you are ready and committed to this endeavor. In other words, you set your intention to be present in your own life. Another way of thinking about this is, you make yourself available to the ever-changing flow of life by withholding your tendency to object or put conditions on this moment. In order to do this, you may ask yourself, have I prepared for this journey? Can I make yoga (being with what is) my intention and purpose? Can I make a commitment to deepen my connection with myself? These questions can become gentle reminders to keep returning to your intention every time that a distraction pulls you away from presence.
The lifelong journey of self-discovery is profoundly affected by your attitude and state of mind. In fact, your attitude may contribute to pull your attention away from showing up fully to the moment you are in. It happens often that a strong commitment may be fueled by ambition. However, ambition can derail you by making you rigid or by pushing you beyond the limits of what you can do consciously and sustainably. Moreover, ambition tends to generate expectations that preclude you from seeing the whole spectrum of options available to you. When you really want to understand something, kind and playful curiosity helps you explore with awareness. This attitude invites an open mind to consider everything without preconceived ideas. How can you cultivate your playful curiosity?
In addition, it is quite common to find out that we are particularly harsh critics of ourselves. We may even have a very exacting tone that we use only with ourselves, probably because nobody else would stick around if we behaved the same way towards others. Gratitude can be a doorway to shifting perspective and opening your heart. Can you be grateful for the opportunity to embark on this journey? In addition, forgiveness and compassion can be instrumental in softening your attitude, especially when you recognize that you are sincerely trying to do your best. Can you plant the seeds for unconditional love by practicing gratitude, forgiveness and compassion?
The practice in yoga is practicing presence. Remember the questions that you can use to practice presence: Am I ready to practice presence?, Can I commit to my intention?, Am I cultivating playful curiosity?, Am I practicing gratitude, forgiveness and compassion?. Of course, you can always use ATHA as a mantra to keep you coming back to presence. You may want to remember that ATHA can be translated as “And now.” “And now” acts as a reminder to let go of any expectations about not getting distracted. You may use “And now” to acknowledge that distractions will happen and that the intelligent response to distractions is to release them and to keep returning to this moment with patient persistence, that is without straining, without struggle, without self judgment and with a gentle smile. Other questions to invite you to align with presence include: Am I focused on doing what I am doing? and how am I doing what I am doing?
Of course, you may also chant this sutra to feel directly its effect on you and to reflect on its meaning and application into your life.