I have a healthy disrespect and distrust of statistical analysis when it is used to pre-determine a course of action and preclude any alternate course of action. The fallacy of statistical analysis (and often policy) is the absence of one piece of information. Information which cannot be metric-ed and reported on to death with Access or Excel: The human animal’s ability and willingness to GSD in the face of impossibility and Certain Doom.
What the heck does that have to do with my yoga practice?
Let me answer that question with another topical departure. I want to talk about Mariano Rivera. Yes, the greatest closer in the history of baseball. Mariano has one pitch, the Cutter. As a batter, you know what is coming. You know he will throw it in the strike zone. You have seen and studied countless hours of video and volumes of statistical analysis. You don’t have to watch for his hand position on the ball, the rotation of the seams, it is the same every time. You know exactly what is coming and you will still not be able to do anything against that Cutter. Maybe you get lucky. Once. Not repeatedly. Not consistently. To face The Sandman is, at least statistically, Certain Doom.
|The Cut Fastball. Certain Doom from the Greatest Closer in the history of Baseball|
As great as Mariano is, batters still come up to the plate and try to get a hit. All the hours of analysis mean squat if the batter doesn’t swing the bat. If the batter thinks too long about swinging—you know, planning and organizing rather than leading—once he is in the box, the ball has gone right past him. At some point you just have to swing to get s*it done.
Here is the cross over. We face certain doom every time we approach our practice. Think about what is working against us. There are more than 7 billion people in the world. That means that there are 7 billion people who have not yet achieved the goal of existence (and the practice of yoga): ultimate unification which results in breaking of the cycle of birth and death. By virtue of being born, all of us (with more added every second) have utterly failed. Struck out. Down swinging or looking, doesn’t matter.
Chew on that for a minute.
But that is only true from a certain point of view.
Humans, the shastras tell us, are the only created beings with the capacity to work out our karma and actively move toward the ultimate goal. We can get, and are GSD right now. We may not know it. We may have only a vague understanding of what we are doing. We are most likely adding more S to GD as we are G our current SD—yes, that’s a problem. But if we allow that understanding to scare us into inactivity, we are truly sunk.
It is useful, to an extent, to explore how we GSD. The danger is spending too much time in analysis and too little time in execution. Spending hours and hours examining pricing, mileage, traffic patterns, selecting an outfit, tying the perfect overhand knot on my sneakers does not matter if I need milk for dinner. I cannot finish a project at work if I spend all day long analyzing my thought patterns, creating SWOT charts, and going to committee about the font on the document. I cannot progress in headstand through reading about the pose, watching videos, or relying on someone else’s description of perfection of the pose.
The key to success in any of these is accepting risk of failure and going for it anyway.
Yes, analysis needs to happen, but not at the expense of GSD.
How and why do you GSD, whether in the batter’s box against Mo, being pulled in countless directions at work, or trying to stand on your head?
You figure it out and do it. And you do it and figure it out.
There are those who have done it before, and that gives us hope. Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Yogananda, all Self Realized beings who walked the Earth and left very extensive insights to help us along. Sri Mahayogi, Self Realized at the age of 8 is with us today, dividing his time between Japan and NYC. Their teachings point the way and provide encouragement, but ultimately we get to our practice for one reason:
Because it needs to get done. And we have faith that it will get done.
Swami Sivananda says “Brahmamuhurta [4 AM, the most auspicious time to begin practice] is NOW!” Meaning get your tail in gear and do something this instant!
Explore action, means, and reasoning together. There’s no need to wait or rely on anyone else's opinion of what the method, means, and outcome should be. It doesn’t matter if you can explain to someone else how or why you got results, truthfully your method probably won’t work for them anyway. It’s your practice that counts. Your swing. Your results.
Do it because it needs to be done. Do it because someone else did it. Do it because no one else has done it. Just GSD.