Self-possessed, Resolute, Act…

“Self-possessed, Resolute, Act

without any thought of results

Open to success or failure,

This equanimity is yoga.”  ~Bhagavad Gita 2.43

Practicing the yamas and niyamas while diving into new endeavors is a unique kind of challenge, I’m finding. New endeavors are exciting, energizing, but can be anxiety provoking. We’re breaching new territory, breaking old patterns, creating new (hopefully more conscious) ones.

Anxiety has a way of encouraging me to reach for old familiar patterns. And grasping is familiar. My way of grasping, though has a drivenness to it, an insistence on white-knuckle motion forward that can look like fearlessness, while it’s entirely the opposite. Some of my friends go into caves when they’re confronted with new and challenging situations, some run the other way, some go into their heads… there are as many ways of sheltering ourselves from the stress as there are people.

But there are equally many ways of remaining vulnerable, open, unconstructed in the face the exhillerating beauty we have – we often forget – invited into our own lives. For me, the yama of aparigraha – nongrasping – is key to returning over and over again to this open heartedness.

This week has been a blast for me. I’m teaching more this week than ever and have two workshops over the weekend. I’m swimming in yoga, and it feels good. And sometimes, when I take the bird’s eye, outsider’s view, I’m terrified, humbled and wonder if I’m stark raving mad. The nattering nay-bobs of negativity chatter away and doubt seeps in any crack and crevice. What if… what if no one comes? what if i have nothing to say or do? what if i freeze? what if i’m not …. enough?

And so I was able to write the quote above from the Gita by heart – not because my memory is full of such wisdom, but because I’ve read, said, written and embraced it so much this week it’s written on the inside of my forehead and transcribed into my soul.

Possessed by Self, resolute : Act. Prepare, practice, investigate, live in the moment, till the ground, plant the seeds, and, when the moment becomes ripe: Act. Then, the consequences are secondary, not even on the same plane. If you inhabit the place of the Self, the consequences aren’t even personal, they’re just action and reaction working themselves out, a play of energies to be observed and then… Act again.

 

 

Tapas and Saucha – what do you think?

One of the searches that lead here yesterday asked, “What is the relation between Tapas and Saucha?” Now that person’s on a journey.

Tapas is usually translated as practice, fire, heat. Saucha as cleanliness and purity. Both are Sanskrit and are Niyamas, one of the Eight Limbs of the Yogic Path (Ashta – eight, Anga – limb). Stiles translates Niyama as “precept for personal discipline”. So the first relation is that they both contribute to one’s own practice, or discipline.

But Tapas can be translated as just that, discipline. I prefer to think of it as fierceness. Fire, the most concrete image associated with Tapas and which we cultivate in our vigorous practices, can be both focused and wild. We cultivate fire to have a force, and then we must discipline ourselves as both the fuel and flame.

Saucha, or purity, used to leave me cold. The opposite of Tapas. The images of purity with which I was nurtured were so pale and wan as to be destructive of creativity and spirit. They involved following rules delineated by others who didn’t have to live your life and which might not even apply to yours and for which the reasons were buried long ago.

But through fierceness – wild at first, seasoning into something I could direct – I have come to value simplicity, integrity and transparency. And I have realized that this is purity and requires some pretty strenuous living at times. The energy to remain aware even as you are doing the things you’ve come to know subvert your dearest desires is the energy that will be freed when you have exhausted the drive to do those things. It seems circular because it is. You have to be fierce to cultivate a place to stand among the whirling tides of your many levels of desire, knowledge, intuition, capacity, a place where you are aware of being something else besides all those things, but which values and attends to those things, which draws meaning and sustenence, and sometimes consequence from those things. That kind of fierceness, the kind that leads to singularity of spirit and integrity, that kind of fierceness is a purity all its own.

Yoga IS Love, Truth, Beauty: Here, Now.

As I was building my website over at yogaeveryday.org and typing my slogan, I was struck by how it read differently in that commercial setting. True, it’s also a yoga website. And it’s my business, how I let people know what I have to offer. And in that context, it suddenly struck me: am I pimping yoga?

Will yoga give you love? will it make your words true? and will it make you beautiful? and what’s this “Here, Now” stuff? What am I, a three year old? Immediate results?

And the answers are no, yoga will not give you anything. Because anything that can be given is a) not already present in the receiver, and b) an object. That’s the “Yoga IS…” part. Yoga isn’t a plan or program and it’s not a way to find love or beautify your body (though these things happen along the way). Yoga is the space between awareness and thought that Eckhart Tolle spent 10 weeks pointing toward and getting us interested in. Yoga is the silent space where what is has room to breathe and reveal itself. Yoga is the shadow under which we find shade for rest and contemplation of the deeper grains of our existence.

Love, Truth, Beauty: Here, Now. It’s my way of pointing with words to that expansiveness of mind we’re all seeking, the eternal Now in which the chatter vanishes or becomes so remote as to be inconsequential. The eternal Here in which we realize the rock bottom truth of our oneness with all beings. It is not a love we are given, it is The Love we Are. It is not the truth of argumentation or description – those all rely on dualism and leaving something out, the something that would shift the gestalt onto a tangent – it is the Truth we are under all the masks, and to which we return, and – when we are acting from this Truth – from which we proceed with certainty. Yoga is Beauty, not the one you’ll become, but the revelation that you already ARE.