Two truths to take and breathe in: Do not take your thoughts too seriously. And balance is always key, but everyone’s balance is different.
I’ve been following along with a woman in the yoga community whom I admire and look up to. The underlying message in all of her teachings is that on this spiritual path, we must be strong enough to dedicate ourselves to the practice of yoga (AKA the practice of presence) every day and in every moment. I completely agree with the concept of the “yoga lifestyle”. Simply put, it is a choice to live more fully and peacefully.
The entire point of all spiritual teachings is to reach for presence in the only moment we live and exist – right now. Whether we are happy or unhappy now, the point is to find our peace in either. When we make the genuine effort to sit within our own peace through whatever circumstance, we realize that we are love. It is our essence. From that point we begin to sense a deep gratitude for everything that is, now.
But here’s the catch…
I listen to my teacher say that we must be stronger, more dedicated, more truly genuine in order to find some semblance of peace within. She speaks of her tendency to give up and withdraw and shows such great gratitude for the advice of her teachers as she passes it on to her students. My trouble with this advice is that I have no tendency to give up…I have the opposite tendency – to try so hard with such pure genuine desire for peace that I find myself more out of whack than ever. In moments when I wake up from my train of thought and realize two hours had gone by and I wasn’t really there, I find my critical mind ready to pounce and put me against a punching bag. Because maybe I’m not truly dedicated if I’m not focusing completely on this moment in every moment. Maybe my desire to live more peacefully isn’t actually genuine enough if I decide I’m too exhausted to roll out my mat for a few days.
Clearly, I have no trouble with motivation and dedication. I have trouble with over-dedicating and perfecting. But sometimes no matter how hard we try to accept what is, we find ourselves stuck and feeling incapable. We just are not okay with what’s going on – the stress, the pain, the emotion, the chatter, the person or people you are facing, etc. The irony I’m finding is the more we try, the farther from peace we become. There is no “doing” or “trying” in presence. There is only “being”.
So, here’s my strategy – any time I feel an urge to do something to make myself “better” (AKA somehow more whole), I choose inactivity. I throttle back by doing the opposite of what what my mind says I’m supposed to do. If I feel like I need to get on my yoga mat to master that new posture, I crawl into bed and light a candle instead. Because in that moment my intention was to gain a new posture, not to become present in my body. If we do this as an act of rebellion, we will not get any closer to being here now. But, if we practice this and simultaneously appreciate the good intention behind the desire to be “better”, we befriend what we are now.
In the end, the key is to not take our thoughts so seriously. Just being is all we can ever really ask of ourselves. This moment is the only moment where peace exists. We can’t place the demand of dedication now on our shoulders when we are depending on an outcome that lies in the illusive future to make us more whole. This is because we can’t truly be present – we can’t live fully honoring this moment if we believe our happiness lies in a future version of ourselves. When we honor ourselves just the way we are without our peace and in all our chaos, we become present – we choose to live. And ironically, when we accept our lack of peace and happiness, we can sense an ease underneath the dis-ease. A peace within the chaos. A joy far greater than happiness.
Everyone’s balancing point is different. Maybe your tendencies are more like my teachers’ than like mine. No matter what, we are never meant to take our thoughts too seriously. Be the beautiful and messy you, now.
Namaste, Laura Marie XO