"Love tells me I am everything; wisdom tells me I am nothing; In between the two, my life flows."

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  • Practice, Part III

    I had promised a continuation of practical considerations for “Practice,” and will outline, in this post, the dimensions of relationship and resources. Let’s begin with resources.

    Depending on where we live, who we are, and what our extended community is like, we may have so many options for classes and workshops and teachings that our head spins and we feel either blessed or indecisive, or a curious mix of the two. We may have especially chosen a city or group that connects us to our own most intimate dreams and ambitions, or we may feel out of place and isolated in the culture we are surrounded by. My experience is that we play a decisive role in our experience through the seeds of intention we plant and the “samskaras” or karmic baggage we carry. In my mind, one’s karma is also one’s dharma, and the obstacles and difficulties in our path are also our greatest tools and gurus. With that as an essential principle, there are also the day to day questions of whether we practice at home or in a group setting, of whether we subscribe to “Yoga Journal” or attempt to decipher the plethora of ancient texts, of whether we embrace contemporary innovations on practice or seek the source. My guidelines for making the best use of our resources can be summed up in three words: simplicity, humility, and gratitude. Whether you are setting aside time to notice how different gestures (mudras) of the hands correspond to different states of mind, or chanting, or mastering a certain sequence of poses, practicing simplicity, humility, and gratitude will prime you to receive what you need, and let go of what doesn’t serve you – to be in a balanced relationship between being and doing.

    This is a good segue for our next consideration which is just that – “relationship.” One of my favorite teachers, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, once described “center” as “balance around an empty space.” Take a moment to contemplate that. There’s an intuitive knowledge there – a sense of both dynamism and receptivity, of nothingness and miraculous creation.

    To consider our relationship with practice brings up some big questions – “What are we striving for?” “Are we able to be in the moment?” “Is the practice feeding our body, our mind, our soul, our spirit, or all of the above?” “Are we only doing what we are doing because everyone else is doing it, and if so, is that o.k.?” “Is our relationship with our practice – transactional, rooted in transmission, or a failure of imagination?” In most cases, it is enough to begin to ask – to be with our questions with care and curiosity, rhythm and devotion. As we ask and open ourselves to finding out, we realize how powerful our choices and our beliefs are, and our practice becomes an affirmation of our authenticity and value – our core beauty and goodness.

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