Attitude and Action, How We Animate Our Practice
Following up on last week's conversation about jnana, the knowing of our divine nature, this week is all about our innate desire to express that truth and the manifestation of that expression.
Most often when we think of yoga, we are referring to the active physical practice of yoga. The asana (posture) practice combined with pranayama (breath work) is what we know as hatha yoga, and it was designed to prepare the body and mind for an advanced seated meditation of extended duration and deep concentration. If you've ever tried sitting cross legged with an upright posture for even a couple of minutes, then likely you've experienced the physical challenge (not to mention the mental one). So, with the process of hatha yoga we work to prepare the body, breath, and mind for the task of opening to communion with our highest consciousness. This high calling is what makes yoga so much more than a great work out. This is why the how we practice is so important.
When we are operating in a state of awareness of our own strength and freedom, it is only natural for us to aspire to be the best version of ourself. Remember, it is not some evil ego state to recognize our highest purpose, our unique attributes, our power. We are billions of years of miraculous evolution, we are condensed droplets of consciousness, who are we to act less than? The desire to dream, reach, dare, and dance is what colors our intent, its what tones our action. When we are not operating in a state of awareness of our true nature, that longing takes the form of compulsion for fulfillment, feelings of unworthiness, covetousness, and striving. We seek things to feel whole, rather than remembering we are whole to begin with. This expressive attitude is what compels our yoga practice, our career, projects, and art.
From a pure intention comes a pure action. The action of participating as our most authentic self is one of the greatest gifts we have to offer to ourselves and others. Our asana practice and our life off the mat are one and the same. Sure, there are times where we can go through the motions, and perhaps function for quite a while this way. Oh how many times I tried to hide my vulnerability by pushing myself in an aggressive yoga practice, only to leave feeling unfulfilled, exhausted, and frustrated. I showed up to class, but I didn't show up for myself and take care. Oh how many times I flaked out on social obligations in the name of needing rest, only to feel more restless and disconnected. Maybe I rested, maybe I drank wine and deep cleaned the apartment and avoided stuff. Deep down we know the difference of honoring authentic intent and acting with truth in hand. This is the seed of pure action.
As the great epic the Baghavada Gita advises, “perform your obligatory duty, because action is indeed better than inaction.” This simple lesson is packed with so much power. To "perform", I immediately think of "performing and act of service", the highest and most basic action we can take. "Your obligatory duty", your highest purpose, your expression, your dharma that is individual to you, and only you. "Because action is indeed better than inaction", because being the best version of you is certainly better than not being the best version of you.
When we are acting in alignment with the most aware version of ourself, we see the evidence of this union begin to manifest. We are reminded that even the smallest gestures can effect our well being and the well being of the world around us. Our practice feels supported and organic, our career and projects lift off, we speak our truth, we create unique and meaningful art. This recognition snowballs. Embodying this power gives others the permission to do the same.
So when we operate in the world, sensing and expressing our power and beauty, may we remember that it's not a competition, with ourselves or others. May we remember to rest when we are called, and go big when we are compelled. May we animate our practice and our life with honesty and courage.
February 11 2019