Saturday, July 24, 2010

A work in progress

This week I've been having some lively conversations in person, on Facebook and in emails about yoga.  I got my knickers in a twist, as they say, after reading a couple of articles in the paper that I'm going to say were a bit shallow and...well okay...I got annoyed.  I got defensive.  Yoga really doesn't need to be defended.  My practice is what it is.  It's a living event, a work in progress...and so am I. (Sometimes it's art!)

Usually I say yoga and if they are two different things. But for me, they are one and the same thing.  Sometimes I'm moving and sometimes I'm not.  So when I practice yoga, everything is grist for the mill.  Even getting grumpy over someone else's comments about yoga is folded into practice.  This week, perhaps I'll practice renunciation.  I'm going to renounce worrying about what people in the popular press say about yoga.  Or maybe I'll just see my annoyance and defensiveness as some kind of love instead of a character flaw.  Who knows what I'll find.  That's why I love to practice yoga.  The living event unfolds in unexpected and sometimes delightful ways.

Here's a piece from Paths to God, Living the Bhagavad Gita by Ram Dass.  He talks about playing with renouncing desires, but renouncing pet peeves seems like it will be just as fruitful.

"If you want to play a little bit with a renunciation practice, pick some desire that you encounter every day. You decide which one: the desire to eat something or other, the desire for a cigarette, whatever it is you want to play with. Pick something that you usually give in to every day — like, let's say, a cup of coffee in the morning — and for one day, don't do it. Then the next day, do it much more than you usually would — have two cups of coffee. Start to study your reactions. Notice the difference in your feelings toward the desire on the first day and on the second day.

"Maybe another time you'll want to take two desires to work with: one day don't satisfy one and doubly satisfy the other, and then flip them around. Try to be very attentive to what's going through your mind about it. If you're keeping a journal, write about it in your journal. Start to relate to your desires as something you can scrutinize rather than as things that totally suck you in all the time, things that consume you. Get into a friendly relationship with your desires. Play with them, instead of being driven by them all the time. Desires get to be fun, really, once we're observing them instead of mechanically reacting to them.
"The whole game of renunciation and purification is an experiment — an experiment in how quickly we can extricate ourselves from being attached to our desire systems. Notice that it isn't a question of getting rid of desires — that's a misunderstanding. Trust me, the desires will stay around! We're just loosening their hold on us, getting clear enough of them so we can see them in some sort of context.”

And ps...check out this blog post from the Dalai Grandma on the Basis of Practice.

1 comment:

Daron said...

Yes! All this renunciation and purification and noticing and allowing are part of a lifelong experiement -- a longitudinal study that takes months, years, and decades to conduct. It's like that Up Series from the UK -- we can check in every seven years to see how things are going, but the life continues with all it's thrills and troubles and dull spots.