How do you know when the practices you have done, on and off the mat, are transforming your life? Can you see and sense into the subtle and gross effects of the hours spent – in your relationships, in your sense of Self and worth, in the person you are becoming, in the beliefs and ideas renounced? Or does it still feel like practice is isolated and somehow different from daily existence?
I fondly remember stepping into the start of a 3-month Yoga intensive at Yasodhara Ashram. We were asked to reflect on what we were hoping to gain from participating in the course. I thought to myself, as someone who had been practicing Hatha Yoga daily, for over a decade, “I want to start to see the changes in my life” and that is what I said. There felt like a disconnect: I would start my morning practicing, breathing, in prayer, and still my life felt disjointed. It was apparent in the way I carried myself and in my interactions with others. Something was not coming together, maybe I was doing it all wrong. The truth is, I wasn’t doing it wrong; I was misunderstanding Yoga. Yoga is not something I do on my mat, it is a way of being in and with my world, and the world. I knew then I sincerely desired to live the practice; not as an idea or something I do, but as a way of living, genuinely and whole-heartedly.
What is cultivated and the changes that happen will take on a life of their own, if we let them. It can seem scary, unpredictable, brimming with unknown variables. If we don’t fight tooth and nail to perpetuate what is familiar, we might discover wonder and awe in the natural spontaneity of life and our place in it. Have you ever thought about it: What is the reason for your practice? Where do you aspire to see changes? What you do there and the way you live here; is there cohesion? How can unity become present and the apparent separations illumined? How do you live what you have learned and inspire others?
The knowledge gained through personal experience must take root in order to flourish and bloom. We are on the Earth; the teachings, a seed. Sow the seed, watered by your dedication and commitment and tend, with care, to what grows.