Weaving the thread of yoga into life
Life is an experiment. Consciously or unconsciously, each of us is running that experiment. Yoga offers you a systematic approach for making your life experiment conscious and deliberate. As it is the case with every part of your life journey, you are in charge. You control the exploration of your options; you choose the decisions that are most conducive to living a vibrant, meaningful, and joyful life. Although it can be tempting to attach to and stick with what we prefer or like, life is constant change. Your circumstances, options and choices will be different at different times… what remains the same is that you are fully present, for all of it.
Let’s start with two definitions:
Y.O.G.A.: You, Organically Growing Aware
Yoga is Presence. Presence is attending to every unique here and now moment of your life. Being present is a choice that only you can make. When you decide to pay attention to your life, you have already started on the journey (1.1). Yoga offers you a path to grow your awareness organically. Awareness is what makes presence possible. Organically means that you do the best that you can do comfortably. When you explore your options for thoughts, feelings, movements, breathing, and interactions with deliberate and heartfelt consistency (1.12-1.14), you will notice limitations, obstacles, and restrictions as well as strengths, abilities, and virtues. Knowing what enhances your presence and what detracts from being present (1.5-1.11) enables you to make adjustments that help your awareness grow. This requires releasing your attachments to your current ways of being that obstruct the flow of your awareness (1.4 & 1.15-1.16). Instead of trying to make yourself into somebody different, you are trying to let go of the misperceptions distorting who you really are.
One of the biggest obstacles in Yoga is impatience, combined with the misperception that trying to do more than you can will get you to your destination faster (1.30). In fact, pushing yourself harder than you can handle is the fastest way to regress. If you consistently try to do what you can do comfortably, you will notice that what you can do comfortably expands at the natural level that you can handle. It’s like wanting to start a program of exercise by walking. Just walk for as long as you can comfortably. If you walk regularly, you will notice that the distance you can walk increases gradually without exhausting yourself and without causing you unnecessary strain or pain. Besides, you grow in awareness by expanding your understanding, your kindness, your compassion, and your humility. When you use this approach, which combines persistence (abhyasa) with patience (vairagya) (1.12), you can enjoy the journey and its fruits. As a result, your yoga practice becomes a combination of Self-Awareness, Self-Care, and Self-Regulation. This perspective enhances the quality of your participation in your life so that you live with enthusiasm, wisdom, and humility (2.1).
S.I.M.P.L.E.: Self-Inquiry to Modulate Predilections for Life Enrichment
In all endeavors it is tempting to keep making things more complex. Keep your yoga practice SIMPLE.
Self-Inquiry. Know your tendencies. Pay attention to your ways of being (citta vrttis) in the form of attitudes, thoughts, emotions, beliefs, posture, movements, breathing, intentions, and interactions. Clarify what you know and what you don’t know.
Modulate Predilections. Notice restrictions and inefficiencies that hinder your ability to participate consciously, deliberately, and wholeheartedly in your life. Also notice the tendencies and inclinations that are life-affirming. Knowing your tendencies is the first step to regulating them. Clarify what is within and beyond your control. Set aside whatever is beyond your control and focus on what you can regulate. Develop your skill for mastering your ways of being instead of allowing your ways of being to determine your attitude, choices, actions, and goals.
Life Enrichment. Direct all your attention and energy to enhancing the quality of your participation in your life through your intentions, actions and interactions. Keep attending to the quality of your participation in whatever you do.
Here are some questions that I invite to contemplate during this week.
If you prefer, you may listen to the podcast:
This is an excerpt from the book Unravel the thread: Applying the ancient wisdom of yoga to live a happy life