Sometimes knowing where to start is the hardest part, sometimes it’s knowing when to stop but very often the hardest thing I’ve found is how to keep on going. Life is beautiful but it can also be chaotic and unpredictable and downright scary at times, when we want to stop the world and get off, learning how to keep going is the art of resilience.
As each day adds to my accumulated life experience I’m developing a sweet mix of confidence and humility. Confidence in who I am and a trust in life, and the humility to accept that theres so much more to life than I could possibly understand.
I am a lover of life, it’s wildly exciting to the point of near constant distraction. And maybe I’ve always been more interested with the fact of living than in directing it. Casting your ship out to see without a map is exhilarating but also exhausting. It’s taken me years (& years) of practise to discover how very much I still need to learn how to focus.
The very definition of Yoga from Patanjali’s yoga sutra’s is “yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind”. But when we live treading water in those waves of the mind how could we possibly learn to still them?
Well patanajali’s condensed answer is another 195 sutras, it’s no simple matter. Yet all hail to the ancient yogi’s there is a map and through it’s study and application to my internal landscape I’m discovering a whole new world.
Heres my Pro Tip : PRACTISE !
It’s not rocket science, it’s inner science, and if your not doing it, no-one else can do it for you. In sanskrit it’s referred to as Abhyasa, “having an attitude of persistent effort to attain and maintain a state of stable tranquility” (1.13). Notice the words “persistent” and “Stable tranquility”. You don’t have to tie yourself in knots, the physicality of asana practise is a vehicle, we learn to use the breath and the body to to transport us to another state of being.
AND Whatever it is your practise consists of, you have to stick with it. Patanjali says, “To become well established, this needs to be done for a long time, without a break” (1.14). If your practise is haphazard, here and there when the mood is right, your results will also at be haphazard. I know an hour and half in certain conditions can feel like a really long time but we’re talking more in the frame of lifetimes, geological epochs.
So here we are back to the beginning, not how to start or finish, simply how to keep on going. Physical, emotional and mental resilience are quite possibly the most important life skills you can learn. Yoga is the practise has assisted me best in this process. Yoga’s invitation to explore these inner realms is an invitation to find the door in to your own deepest being. That sense of being becomes the boat that carries you across the waves.
The most important thing about your practise is not what you do, but that you do it, that you make some effort to attain and maintain some kind of stable Tranquility. I’m going to say it again clearer, the most important thing is not what you do, but that you do it with a certain intention and state of being.
Yes it is tough some times but if we frame that toughness as an opportunity for growth we can deepen our practise through it. I’m not going to lie, there are days when I don’t feel like practising, yet when I manage to do it anyway I always always feel better for it.
If you can manage to keep going results will come faster, but remember no matter how many times your mind (or your life) wanders off, leading you in all kinds of crazy directions your practise lives inside you, you carry it with you wherever you go and it is always going to be here for you when you need it.