Thursday, April 21, 2011

Culitivate Skillfully and Continuously

This week's focus has been from the Yoga Sutras, I.12--I.14:
"12. Practice and detachment are required to still the fluctuations of the mind.
13. Practice is the sustained effort to remain in that stillness.
14. And this practice becomes firmly rooted when it is cultivated skillfully and continuously for a long time."

Our practice must be cultivated.  There is effort involved.  Ask  anyone who has ever tried to cultivate anything, from a potted plant to a massive garden. Aside from pure effort, awareness--skill--is involved.  One has to recognize what grows best in which environment.  I may love pineapple, but if I put all my effort into growing a pineapple in Dutchess County, NY, I have to understand that I cannot be upset if that tropical plant does not want to grow in the current climate. Because this is a long term practice, that self-awareness has to check the ego.  If I am to have a sustained practice, but I push to the point of injury, or try to follow a practice which leaves me frustrated, sore, and dreading the next session, I need to know what I am doing is not working. 

How does one know when their practice is correct?  These verses tell us:  when it is sustainable; when it is done because it is to be done.  If you can commit to practice when no one is looking, and do it smartly (without injury or self-judgement), and do it for 40 days straight, you are on your way.  It does not matter what it is, recall that Patanjali defines yoga as "The cessation of the fluctuations of the mind" not foot behind the head or 6 pack abs. 

The beginner student says: "I WANT to do that."
The intermediate student says "Sure, I'll do that."
The advanced student says "I shouldn't do that."

Work with your teacher and your self to find a practice which is right for YOU, that you can do skillfully and continuously for a long time.

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