Monday, 21 January 2013

Sweet Joy

Last week, I have been meditating on all the sweetness in my life. I find this to be incredibly softening as it makes me realise how little I need or want, those things my head are feeding me to want.  I often need reminding! 
And ultimately all this sweetness can only be sweeter, and in many instances, can only be sweet, if all around me share the same. I find little joy in being happy when no one else around me is happy. I am sure this is true for everyone. So wanting / wishing/ helping others to succeed in their life, is no different from pursuing your own happiness.   

And so 'lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu - may all beings everywhere be happy and free' ultimately is what it is; may we all be happy and free, for this is the only way we can truly be happy and free. 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

On Mat Challenge

This week, the discussion has been centered around why some yoga poses and methods can be so challenging. I decided to bring this up again because this is a frequently asked question, recently being asked again. Some people feel it is gimmicky, or more acrobatic than yoga, or even, just to show off, which would of course be counter yoga, if there was such a thing ;-)

Since the beginning of consciousness or fire or intellect (i am assuming that this is so), the human race have endeavoured to make life easier. We have achieved this beyond our forefathers'  imagination! We have gone from having to hunt and gather food, to food being delivered straight to our door steps, cooked, if you prefer! Computers and machines help make every day living simple (arguable) And information is available for almost anything you would like to know, at a click of a button! Even adventures have gone mainstream, and we have learnt to avert danger and as we gain more knowledge and information, things become less and less difficult or risky. 

* Hang on, I am not saying that challenging yoga is about taking risk.

It is about facing up to our tendencies. There is a famous saying out there there goes something like "you cannot control what others say or do, but you can control your reaction". For example, if you are in a class and you find that it's a theme that your body really struggles with, but you are already on your mat- how do you react? Some of us take a moment, let the irritation / frustration melt and then do our best and enjoy the class anyway. Some of us, go through the motions while we plan our dinners in our mind. Some of us put on a dissatisfied expression in the hope that the teacher gets it that this is not favoured, and hope it never happens again. Some of us make a quick exit. Stick with the yoga and you begin to recognise the repetition of this tendency, and thoughts, and once you do, the yoga begins. 

Challenging practices really show up a lot of our tendencies; how our ego rejoices when we can do our favourite pose, how our insecurities play up when we are faced with the unknown, how brave we are, how scared we are and most of all, how chatty our minds can be! For me, it is not about doing yoga poses, but about how I experience them - although, please, don't get me wrong, i LOVE doing yoga poses and when you can do them, the are fun! But so much work comes in the approach to doing the asana. It is never ending! And some times, you will find that the thing you disliked the most, you now love, because you had put so much work into it (in your body, mind and spirit)

Challenging practices also teaches me how to soften. It taught me (and continues to remind me) that if I decide not to pay attention to my limitations, then I will be rewarded with consequences. It teaches me that some days, the answer is just no! 

For me, challenging practices are also very meditative. Your mind and breath becomes focused. These poses and sequences require deep concentration and it is also a practice of making commitments. Committing to learning a pose. Committing to stick to learning. Committing to the good stuff and the bad stuff that comes with learning it! :-)

You get all of these and more!  

So that is my answer!
A challenging practice is yoga. 
It is not about gimmicky asana. Perhaps at the beginning it will feel like it is all about gimmicky asana. Along the way, you may even start to learn things about yourself without realising it. Not long after, you will start to realise the changes. And eventually, you will realise it is just all about you. And how the impressions from your practice affects your relationship to everything and everyone around you :-)))