Practice and all will come.
Practice and all will come
India. Listening to the Guru speak about the practice. Tears in my eyes, because I felt understood. Listening to a person, and not ‘just someone’, describing the path Im walking. Gratitude for feeling understood without having to say a single word. All we have to do is practice.
If we look at how we progress in life, we usually find ourselves doing two things. We think, feel and do things because we ‘ just know’ they’re good or not. We know because our parents told us, we know because they taught us in school, we know because we follow rules shaped by culture, society and time. We often integrate these ‘rules of living’ into our being without even thinking about them. More importantly, we often integrate these ‘rules of living’ into our being because that is how we should live. And, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Often those ‘rules of living’ contain a very valuable and wise content, passed on by many generations, by the soul of the world, by people whom truly thought, felt and done this.
Most of the time however, when we speak of true progression, getting closer to ourselves, our source and our being, we do not learn because we either blindly follow a set of rules or because we follow a set of rules because we ‘should’. True learning and integration often happens when we wake up on the inside. When we come a little closer to ourselves and start thinking, feeling and doing what we are, what we want, instead of what we should according to a set of rules opposed upon us. Funnily enough, in a lot of cases, what we discover isn’t actually different from those ‘rules’ that we tried to follow initially. The difference comes from the fact that we now feel that it comes from a place within ourselves, not from a place outside of ourselves. Instead of trying to try live by something external because we ‘should’, we now actually think, feel and act a certain way because we ‘want to’ ourselves.
Be where you are
True change happens within. And true, deep changes often take a long time. They might take a lifetime, they might take a 100 lifetimes. Those so called ‘rules of living’ that we find in so many systems and cultures all over the world and in so many different shapes, contain a type of progression that doesn’t just happen overnight. This goes just as much for set of guidelines we ‘follow’ when living a life in the system of yoga. Actually, rather than guidelines that we follow or rules that tell us what we should or shouldn’t do, the information shared in the system of yoga offers us a system and a method that tells us a lot about who we are and where we are. So rather than telling us what to do to become a good person or even enlightened, the system requires us to be exactly where we are in order to progress closer towards our true self, in our own way, at our own pace and with our own means. Rather then rules being opposed upon us, they describe techniques and ‘skill in action’ to get as close as possible to what it is that each of us is in search of in this life. So what does this mean? This means that we are not good people, yogi’s or enlightened souls when we oppose rules upon ourselves as to how we should think, feel, act. It means that we are exactly where we should be and that the only way to get closer to our true selves is practice.
As I mentioned before, true and deep progression and change doesn’t happen overnight and might even seem ‘impossible’ when thought of. Thesame might be thought of when looking at the guidelines for living a life in yoga. In the yoga philosophy of Patanjali, these guidelines exist of Yama’s and the Niyama’s. Officially, the Yama’s, or self-controle and discipline, describe our dealings with the external world. They consist of: Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (commitment to the truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Bramacharya (spiritual development –also sexsually) and Aparigraha (non-appropriation). The niyama’s describe our dealings with our internal world, and consist of: Saucha (purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (discipline), Swadhyaya (self-study) and Ishvrapranidhana (spirituality). As the words themselves already suggest they are not particularly trivial in life. Yet, through practice (Abyasa) we can make them small.
Lets take one of these guys to outline this a little further. Ahimsa – Non-violence or better said: compassion for all living things. And this goes way beyond not killing other human beings. Ahimsa is about learning how to be non-violent in every single way and especially, towards ourselves. Its about being able to love ourselves and treat ourselves with respect, empathy and kindness, so we can treat others this way. Its about the challenge of self acceptance so we accept others as well. Its about learning that any thought, word or action can either help or prevent ourselves and other from living a life in freedom and love. Again: no triviality!
So, a commen way to go about this is setting it as a rule, as an external goal because we ‘know’ its ‘supposed to be good for us’. So we say: self-distructive thoughts – bad! Not allowed. Arguments with loved ones – bad! Not allowed! Eating meat – bad! Not allowed. Now, does this sound loving, or violent? Stimulating, or surpressing? Coming from within, or without? I think we know the answer. Paradoxically, this is exactly where Ahimsa really falls into place. To set ourselves free from violence requires allowing ourselves to be exactly where we are, not where we should be! Ahimsa doesn’t require us to no longer think self-destructive thoughts, no longer feel anger, hatred or jealousy. It requires us to practice. Can we really look at ourselves with acceptance, love and kindness? Can we observe our thoughts, behaviors and actions, reflect upon them and find the root causes? Can we accept where we are, and grow from there? This, required practice.
And practice means: start small. When we start small, suddenly these deep and innate changes become something we can actually grasp, something that we can work towards, because we take one step at a time. When climbing a mountain, the journey starts with a single step. Actually, the internal ‘goal’: the ability to reach the top of the mountain, is already within us. So funnily enough, the end point – reaching the top of the mountain, is also the starting point of our journey. And still, it starts with taking that first small step, and luckily, that first step is a lot easier to start with than trying to jump that whole mountain.
We can practice Ahimsa every time we get on our mat, by being fully aware of what goes on inside. So that we can start treating our body with respect, letting go of judgemental thoughts towards ourselves and others, letting go of distrust in our bodies and our abilities and progressing from there. We can practice ahimsa every time that we talk to one-another, by trying to be fully aware. Aware of the words we use, aware of the meaning of our words and our intentions.
So, instead of opposing rules upon us or expecting ourselves to be on top of that mountain straight away, lets put all our effort in practice! Practicing, learning and integrating – waking up on the inside. So that with every step we come a little closer to ourselves and start thinking, feeling and doing what we are, what we want.
Practice and all will come. Abyasa Yoga.