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Build here, now November 30, 2020

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.
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“Practice is absolutely necessary. You may sit down and listen to me by the hour every day, but if you do not practice, you will not get one step further. It all depends on practice. We never understand these things until we experience them. We will have to see and feel them for ourselves. Simply listening to explanations and theories will not do.”

– quoted from “Chapter III: First Steps” in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 1, Raja-Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

If you are anything like me… Scratch that. If you are living in 2020, you’re going through something private and personal that is being made worse by the public problems of the pandemic while, simultaneously, dealing with public and social issues made more challenging by your personal and private circumstances. This is just the way it is and, while your socioeconomic level and/or relationship may create a buffer, insulating you from certain hardships, there is no escaping challenge. Additionally, what some people may view as a blessing, you may – at this very moment – see as an extra burden. I can say that it’s all a matter of perspective; however, even more than perspective, I think this is where practice comes into play.

What we believe, practice, and integrate into our lives becomes the fabric of our lives. It becomes how we deal with challenging times (and people). It is how we move get up and move forward after we’ve fallen and, even more importantly, it is how we rebuild when things fall apart. I know, this may seem like a trope or platitude, but take a moment to consider how it plays out in your own life… in this very moment.

When practicing āsana (“seat” or posture), I emphasize the importance of “building from the ground up” and often make getting your body into different shapes as being analogous to building a house: You don’t start with the chandelier, hanging in space; you start with the foundation. Even if you have some lofty goals, ideas, and ideals – that can be like a fancy chandelier – and you are building this edifice around this centerpiece, you still have to (physically) start with a stable foundation. The very stability of the foundation is determined by the location of the building and external factors such as any extreme weather and/or environmental issues that may be normal to a certain climate. Somewhere, underlying this structure is also a concept. (Why are we building this, again? What’s the purpose of building something just to show off this chandelier?) And, ultimately, the foundation has to support not only the walls, ceiling, and other apparatus that will hold the chandelier up it also has to hold up the purpose.

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life; dream of it; think of it; live on that idea. Let the brain, the body, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced. Others are mere talking machines. If we really want to be blessed, and make others blessed, we must go deeper. The first step is not to disturb the mind, not to associate with persons whose ideas are disturbing. All of you know that certain persons, certain places, certain foods, repel you. Avoid them; and those who want to go to the highest, must avoid all company, good or bad. Practice hard; whether you live or die does not matter. You have to plunge in and work, without thinking of the result. If you are brave enough….”

– quoted from “Chapter VI: Pratyahara and Dharana” in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 1, Raja-Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

Flip things around and the “building poses” analogy (based on Patanjali’s instructions in the Yoga Sūtras) works the other way too – and not just with a physical building. It can also be applied to building or rebuilding a company, a life, a relationship, a country… or any other change and challenge that you are facing. In commentary 2.47 of the Yoga Sūtra, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD, writes, “Stability and comfort go hand in hand, allowing us to remain relaxed during the peak moments of the posture.” I often only look at this in terms of the physical practice, but today I consider it in a practical way. For instance, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What do I / What does my heart need, in this moment to feel stable and comfortable?
  2. What is the one thing I can do, in this moment, to fulfill that need?
  3. What is the next step, or second thing, I can do to provide myself with stability and comfort?

Last year, I participated in a panel discussion about self care that was specifically directed towards professional women. During the brainstorming session, the small group of us that were on the panel talked about “action items” or homework we could give the participants. Some of us thought we should just offer suggestions, hold space for new ideas, and encourage people to share 5 (or so) things that they could start doing to promote better well-being for themselves, their families, and colleagues. Others (myself included) thought we should encourage people to pick 1, maybe 2 things, they could start doing.

My thinking was that many, maybe most, of the people in the room would be pretty ambitious and possibly Type A personality – in other words, achievers… maybe even overachievers. As I resemble that description, I know that when given an opportunity or a challenge I tend to either (a) do more than is expected; (b) get bored by the lack of challenge (as if somehow I need more than what’s being offered); and/or (c) get overwhelmed because I bit off more than I could chew. My expectation was that if we said, “Pick 5 of these suggestions,” some people would pick 10 and not make the time to do any of them. On the flip side, if we said, “Pick 1, maybe 2,” and they were complimentary, then people would be more likely to practice and integrate the changes. This last part is important, because practice and integration, like stability and comfort, go hand in hand – and they are key ingredients in our successful transition out of the challenging situation and into something sustainable.

It is easy to see how practice and integration go together and how one leads into the other, and back again – kind of like our breath. Consider, for a moment, that the same is true for stability and comfort. If there is too much stability, too much rigidity, things (and people) break and crumble. If there is too much comfort, not enough structure, things can collapse and people cease to grow. Additionally, what feels comfortable changes as stability increases – and the effort to maintain a certain level of comfort changes how we maintain stability. Finally, the longer we are in a certain situation (or pose) the more uncomfortable and unstable it becomes… unless we are making adjustments as we are holding the “status quo.” In other words, we have to change on the inside even as we appear not to change on the outside.

Remember, Sir Isaac Newton’s “Law of Inertia” applies to objects at rest as well as objects in motion. The thing we sometimes need to consider is that time (and other things we can feel, but not see) can be “an unbalanced force.” Ergo, we must feel and then we must take the steps that move us through whatever we’re feeling.

“All the different steps in Yoga are intended to bring us scientifically to the superconscious state, or Samadhi. Furthermore, this is a most vital point to understand, that inspiration is as much in every man’s nature as it was in that of the ancient prophets. These prophets were not unique; they were men as you or I. They were great Yogis. They had gained this superconsciousness, and you and I can get the same. They were not peculiar people. The very fact that one man ever reached that state, proves that it is possible for every man to do so. Not only is it possible, but every man must, eventually, get to that state, and that is religion. Experience is the only teacher we have. We may talk and reason all our lives, but we shall not understand a word of truth, until we experience it ourselves. You cannot hope to make a man a surgeon by simply giving him a few books. You cannot satisfy my curiosity to see a country by showing me a map; I must have actual experience. Maps can only create curiosity in us to get more perfect knowledge. Beyond that, they have no value whatever.”

– quoted from “Chapter VII: Dhyana and Samadhi” in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 1, Raja-Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

Please join me on the virtual mat today (Monday, November 2nd) at 5:30 PM for a 75-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom.

This is a 75-minute Common Ground Meditation Center practice that, in the spirit of generosity (dana), is freely given and freely received. You can use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below.

If you are able to support the center and its teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” my other practices, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible, class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

There is no playlist for the Common Ground practices.

“There are much higher states of existence beyond reasoning. It is really beyond the intellect that the first state of religious life is to be found. When you step beyond thought and intellect and all reasoning, then you have made the first step towards God; and that is the beginning of life. What is commonly called life is but an embryo state.”

– quoted from “Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms – Introduction” in The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 1, Raja-Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

Yoga Sūtra 2.46: sthirasukham āsanam

– “Cultivate a steady [or stable], easy [comfortable or joyful] seat [or pose].”

Yoga Sūtra 2.47: prayatnaśaithilyānantasamāpattibhyām

– “[The way to perfect the seat or pose] is by relaxing [or loosening] effort and by merging with the infinite.”

Yoga Sūtra 2.48: tato dvandvānabhighātāh

– “From that (perfected posture) comes lack of injury (or suffering) caused by the pairs of opposites.”


### Mo’ practice, Mo’ life ###

Comments»

1. tjbushlack - December 1, 2020

Hi Myra, I just want you to know how much I appreciate you and your daily emails! I may not be getting to the mat every day, but just knowing you’re out there offering these teachings brings me peace of mind. I hope you are well, my friend. Peace, Tom

On Mon, Nov 30, 2020 at 5:18 PM A Joyful Practice wrote:

> ajoyfulpractice posted: ““Practice is absolutely necessary. You may sit > down and listen to me by the hour every day, but if you do not practice, > you will not get one step further. It all depends on practice. We never > understand these things until we experience them. We will have ” >

ajoyfulpractice - December 1, 2020

Thank you, Tom. I appreciate all the little (and big) reminders I get that you are out there and spreading wisdom. Hope you are staying well too! Peace, gratitude, joy, and Joy, M


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