Yoga and the Now.

07Feb09

Hmm, that'd be nice!     I’ve been reading a lot lately about being Whole.  Some describe it as fulfillment, contentment, peace, inner-ease, etc… 

I think it’s all of these things, and I wrap them all up in the idea of  being present.

The present moment is literally the only one in which we can be anything, do anything.  
It’s the only moment in which we can see ourselves and the world for what we are, for what it is… And then choose an appropriate, compassionate, wholehearted response.  In fact, now is the only moment in which we can be happy.  Ever.  
Now.  And now.  And now.
But, being present doesn’t come naturally for anyone — much less us westerners in our 24-hour-news-cycle-internet-future-focused-save-for-retirement-regret-the-past-wish-you-were-18-again-erase-years-with-surgery-lose-weight-maybe-someday-someday-someday culture.  
(Oh how I love making one long word out of entire paragraphs.)
So — Yoga is a place in which to practice the (very, very difficult) skill of being present.  
You might say that yoga is a laboratory for seeing how we respond to being present, to being able to witness (maybe for the first time) how CRAZY our minds are!  How quickly thoughts flit from one to the next!  How good our minds are at distracting us from anything on which we attempt to set them!  
Hmm, a close friend.
None of this is bad; this jumble of thoughts is natural.  Our minds produce thoughts the way our salivary glands produce saliva.  (Hmm, ew.)  That’s what they’re made to do.
 

But, through practice, we can learn to respond wisely.

In Yoga, we discover that just because a thought arises, that doesn’t mean we have to follow it.  We can let it pass by.  
We can choose which thoughts to follow, and we can learn to bring our attention to what we believe is truly important & significant:
*The person across the table
*The stranger in the doorwayBeing there.
*The field covered with snow
*The words being spoken over the phone
*The nuance of our words and how they might come across
*The moment in a song that widens our hearts
*The catch in a friend’s throat
*The hesitation in our own hearts that may signal a warning or something more —
These are all things that we miss when we’re distracted, when we’re running on auto-pilot, when we’re swamped by our wildly-churning thoughts, when we’re planning for the future, when we’re replaying the past, when we’re anywhere but right here, right now.  

 

Yes, Laboratory.  I went there.

     So yoga is a laboratory for observing, and then for trying things a different way.  

For instance, when you’re practicing Yoga —
What would it be like to be just here, just now?  
What would it be like to NOT say something negative to yourself?  
What would it be like to be okay with how your body is in this posture right now?  
These things translate (in obvious ways, I think) off the mat and into day-to-day life.  For instance:

Wherever you are right now, whatever else you’re doing (other than reading a blog) —

What would it be like to truly sense your body, however it is right now?
What would it be like to think you’re okay? 
What would it be like to silence your self-critic?
What could you do, say, be, and/or offer to someone else if you weren’t afraid it wasn’t good enough?
Investigating this is no quick & easy jaunt.  
It’s terribly unlikely that you’ll give these questions some thought & wake up a new person.  (Although if that happens to you, um, let me know.)  
But – That’s okay!  It’s okay for it to take time.  

We were built for process; not for completion.  

After all, your life as it is right now is the accumulation and result of your habits.  And your habits are ingrained because you’ve practiced them so long & so well.  You trust these habits.  You trust this version of whoever-you-are.  
So the GOOD news is, you’ve practiced something before!  You’ve ingrained something before!  You’ve even trusted something before!   In a way, your dedication brought you here, and it can take you somewhere new.

So rather than thinking of breaking old habits, think of beginning new ones. 

Place yourself in a new circumstance.  Try out a new thought pattern.  Investigate.  Really sense how you feel.  
Read or listen to something new.  Choose to do just one thing at a time.
Maybe open your arms out and over your head.  Or breathe from deep in the belly.  
Or both!Place your body in Child’s Pose or Mountain, and discover an new opening in your hips, rib cage, or along the back of your neck.  Find the challenge, and breathe into it rather than backing away.
This is Yoga-as-Laboratory.  Yoga-as-practice.  
It’s not about a Mastery.  There’s no finish line.  And that’s a good thing!  
Endless.
Rather, Yoga is experience, challenge, and compassion… For as long as you’re here to try it.
It’s a microcosm of Life, every day something to see: something different, new, other
What are your most annoying (or frequent) self-criticisms?  
Are there any phrases that repeatedly come up for you, whether they’re true or not?  (For me, it’s “You’re being lazy.”)
What would you try if you weren’t worried about whether it was good enough?  
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2 Responses to “Yoga and the Now.”

  1. I like it all. This was the best one for me: “We were built for process; not for completion.” I’ve added it to my favorite quotes on my YogaTag profile!

  2. Art – Great to hear from you! Thanks for reading; so glad you liked it. And your comment reminded me that my YogaTag profile was outrageously in need of updating! :)
    Feeling better now that that’s remedied…
    :)
    Cheers!

    –tg


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