“Having peace in not knowing strangely seems more righteous than the peace we find in knowing.” ~ Daniel Holden in Rectify
Why do you come to Yoga?
It seems to boil down to wanting a sense of relief, a sense of freedom, to be better, to heal. It feels good to be present in the body rather than the busy mind. So we motivate and practice. We, as human animals, human beings, move towards pleasure. It is just natural. It’s what animals, insects, plants, all things do. And it is not something to deny. The flower does not deny the bee, and the trees do not deny the rain. Why is it that all other things and beings in the natural world reside in a willingness? They do not seem to question the ways of the world; they do not interfere, they do not protest. They exist.
We, as humans, seem to go against the nature of things. Humans rationalize what doesn’t make sense because they want to do it; the wanting overrides the common sense. We desire to be pleased. That is why we do! We are in danger when the priority is gratifying the individual self. This is the ego. And even in a yoga practice, if the ego is being served, the yoga is not yoga.
The will is what motivates us. The will forces the first step towards our evolution. The want to exist. The natural impulse in all things to move towards pleasure is our support for growth. The will is the servant to the ego. This is futile, though. If we want to survive, the will needs to evolve into willingness and benefit all beings, as the rest of the natural world teaches us. This natural impulse can affect everything in our lives and all other life when it is embedded in a willingness.
So how do we begin? First we feel and accept what is actually happening. Only then can we begin to locate our physical presence in the world. Onece we are at the center of the compass we can notice the sensation that draws us to our next step. This is what we call desire. We can witness desire spark the action. The desire is what is necessary to show up for anything. And this is our will. Being aware of our will without attempting to use it to get what we want, we arrive again at paradox: the elusive union between will and willingness.
The trying is not necessary, the will just needs to get us here and then the practice of being present transforms our will into willingness. How does it feel to be you today and what is being asked of you by the world, by the stimulus, by that which is outside of you? Do not react. Make your body into a shape that can receive and then it transforms into a prayer that is offered. The will becomes willingness. And this breath is the very first breath. And again, this breath is the very first breath. And again, this breath is the very first breath. And ironically the willingness to receive is also the willingness to let go. Norman Fischer, in his article “Suffering Opens the Real Path,” writes “Love will naturally rush into the vacuum that loss creates.” Loss is a letting go. If we hang onto the loss of something—a relationship, a person, a place, an experience—then we experience suffering. The breath teaches us this with every cycle that we partake in. When we exhale, the vacuum that is created fills with new life-giving breath. This leads us once again to paradox: recognizing that there is nothing we need to accomplish, for it has been accomplished already.
If we focus on the qualities of our experience and not our own desire to accomplish, since the accomplishment inevitably dissolves, we will impact our world with that which is eternal. Discipline and practice is essential, but don’t try to get anything from effort. The ego wants to get things, to make solid that which is not. We, not our ego or this vehicle of mind and body, but WE are eternal.
We must take care of ourselves and each other when we enter any challenging position in life or in practice. When we set ourselves up in a physical practice to be a vessel, to make our body into a shape that can receive, we can discover the right place at the right time with the right support. These are the three components that produce a sense of success. We are embodying and manifesting eternal qualities into our impermanent form. This is the process of discovering our Dharma, that which supports us and that which we support.
The personification of those eternal qualities are celebrated in Hindu mythology: Durga is the warrior goddess. She is a beautiful expression of fearlessness and courage due to her devotion in protecting what she loves. We can take this in relation to others: when we are devoted to someone, we forget ourselves, we have a sense of fearlessness, a willingness to risk because we love them wholeheartedly.
Sometimes I separate myself in oreder to offer myself the love and protection I need: here is Sweethome, a dear innocent child within me. I am going to love her, protect her, care for her. I shall be the Warrior Mother that protects the child I am.