Over the past 36 days, I've been working through a 40 day sadhana practice on having patience and staying present in my own process. (You can learn more about sadhana practice here) I've had this lesson pop up and get my attention many times before in various ways, so I knew it was time to really focus on it and pour this energy into my daily practice.
I'm often one to "shoot first and ask later," as my husband says. Though I smile when he says it, I've been learning that my excitement and gusto for the future is actually working against me, drawing me out of the present and causing a lack of reverence within my yoga sharing. I've recognized times in my life where I thought I was trusting and 'taking a leap of faith,' but was really just being reckless and overly-ambitious. I also find this energy cropping up in the way I organize my schedule, relate to others, read books, teach yoga, practice yoga, spend money...etc. Finding much truth as my teacher says, 'the way we do any one thing is the way we do all things.'
I know/hope that I'm not the only one. :) I wanted to share some of what I'm processing in hopes that it might help someone else along a similar journey. Here are some ways I've found a lack of patience and presence in my life:
One way in which I/we might unintentionally evade the present is through the guise of planning, scheduling or organizing. It's great to want to improve ourselves or our schedule, but how do we know where to draw a line?
There's a level of dissatisfaction that often comes along with the whole idea of over-planning, wanting control and self-improvement. If we're constantly striving or reaching for more or for 'perfection,' we can't practice or experience santosha (contentment). Letting go of the sense of control that comes along with over-planning is the first step toward real self-acceptance and feeling your way through the messy process of life.
Yoga asana is never an escape from the rest of our lives. On the mat, we are either gradually shining the light of awareness on our habits little by little, or we're just acting out all of the same grasping, impatience, judgement or excitement. Have you ever found yourself experimenting with a pose that you know you're not really ready for? Perhaps thinking about how much better your balance will be on the right leg while you're balancing on the left. We all do it at times and it's so helpful to have all these metaphors via asana practice available to study. How can you develop patience and presence in the process of every shape, every transition, every breath?
Grasping for knowledge is one way in which we might rush forward, skim over the process or escape what we actually could glean for ourselves in the present. I'm definitely guilty of this because I LOVE to read and I want to learn so many different things. As soon as I read something that I feel could be useful for someone else, I want to share it! But if we don't allow new knowledge to simmer and filter through our own experiences, that knowledge is never really ours to share.
Do you remember the days (pre-internet) of having a speculative conversation and NOT knowing the answers? Or can you feel something within your yoga practice and allow it to remain a total mystery? Some of us will always be natural knowledge-seekers and there's nothing wrong with curiosity, but we ought to be equally comfortable with mystery.
Learning how to exist without knowing is a practice in aparigraha (non-greed). We cannot figure it all out. We will never have control or all the answers. Yoga is helping me to be more comfortable with the many mysteries of my mind and body. I hope it might offer the same freedom for you.
I leave you with (yet another) endlessly applicable and profound poem by Mary Oliver that encourages us to sit with and embrace the 'not knowing,' and the process.
"Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
"Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads."
~ Mary Oliver ~