“I just want to be ok”…we can often think this about ourselves when we practice Yoga. It’s a harsh thought, no matter how quietly we might hear it. Yoga is about greater self awareness and the acceptance that comes from that; but sadly, we naturally apply our culturally developed thinking as a framework around it. Almost like we try to catch it in a net that is already familiar to us. Unfortunately, Yoga is advertised in the same way as everything else, as a commodity. It has become a product to sell. The glory of the perpetual industry drives us to believe that there is something to “Get”, to “Attain”, to “Have” from Yoga. The marketing of Yoga tells us that what we’re getting is the promise of “Happiness”. Wanting to “be Ok” is a harsh and aggressive self attitude because it usually comes from a desperation for happiness, and industry is financially fueled by a desperate society. We deceive ourselves by believing that this cultural framework will support the unformed newness of a deepening and authentic Yoga practice. So there can be a tendency to fall into the shadow and use Yoga to fuel our belief that there is something fundamentally wrong with us.
Sometimes, I think an aspect of ourselves which pops up in our practice, is an unanticipated relentlessness. The gift of increasing self insight can instead be turned into a drive for continual “betterment” of ourselves…suddenly it can seem that there is so much to look at and address personally. As if we’re realizing we’ve been doing something wrong all this time and now how are we going to fix it. Firstly, know you weren’t doing anything wrong…hopefully what you were doing was the best with what you knew about yourself. Have this compassion for self, ultimately it will help you recognize a connection with others. This feeling that “If we’re not careful…” can create a critical eye which stems from the competitive internal space which needs to get to an “other” than where we are. Take care with this, don’t lose the supportive purpose of Yoga through a thick blanket of market based perceptions.
But what if there is nothing to “Wrong”, nothing to “Attain” from Yoga? Humans generally aren’t ok with that. What if Yoga is just our pedestrian walk through Life? Daily life for the most part, is pretty uneventful and again, we’re trained to perceive that as boring or uninteresting. We usually rely on this passive perception when we’re not really getting the message. The message of Life is usually embedded within layers of understanding and perception. For example, we’ve all had those moments that come on like a light and we say, “Oh yeaaah”, smiling brightly, finger in the air, like pointing out layer upon layer of things that are suddenly understood, and were all embedded in that one moment. The gloriousness and magic of life is in this simplicity, but we’re trained to omit this experience for the obnoxious sounds and visuals that constantly override it. Egoic stimulation is exaggerated for the purpose of driving up our level of anxiety. The neediness that this anxiety creates forces us to run after and desperately chase whatever is being dangled in front of us. This leaves residing in the quiet simplicity of life as a big challenge. It grows to feel like simplicity is not enough, and so it doesn’t capture our attention. It usually captures our attention though, but in that underground gnawing kind of way. We really personally have to be the one to call our own self to attention on this. It has to be a personal choice to really discipline our own self, and to stand firm because no one else is going to do it for us. Culturally it’s not accepted or fostered. It has to be your choice.
Yoga is the last thing of a human developed ideal. It is the most natural independent flow of spontaneity. This can’t be controlled in itself, it can only arise. We tune our personality toward it through our practices, but Yoga isn’t necessary as a practice in itself, because it just arises. It’s that same spark that creates the heartbeat. It’s our attention to Yoga that is the practice. The practice is our refinement of what we’ve grown to perceive. By refining our own self, we give the freedom for the Yoga to arise; we’ve given it the space to move in and as our daily life. So you see, the cultural framework around Yoga won’t work, it won’t support the mystery of the Soul; if anything, the framework will suffocate our personal Yoga as it’s done all along. The real reality is, you’ll sort it out as you go.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com