From: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras:
Sutra 1.12: abhyasa-vairagya-abhyam tan-nirodhah
In Devanagri: अभ्यासवैराग्याअभ्यां तन्निरोधः
Pronunciation: abhyāsa-vairāgya-ābhyāṁ tan-nirodhaḥ
Idea: The fluctuations of the mind cease through practice and detachment.
Why practice? Isn’t the practice now to be out on the streets supporting our allies? It is, but our time on the mat is important, too. I once had a cat named Toshi. I was an inexperienced cat guardian, and quite frankly, not very good at it. I never much brushed him, it was boring and I didn’t think he liked it very much. When the day came when I realized that he was getting older, I felt called to brush him. We sat for some time together, brushing. Me, and Toshi the cat. That day, I had no time for meditation. I posted something about it on Facebook later in the day and one of my friends said, “No, Natalie, you need to meditate AND brush Toshi.” My time management was not very good in those days. Brushing Toshi took precedence. Everything about Toshi took precedence. I have to say, when he choose to leave his body, I was so glad that I’d spent all that time with him. But the decisions I had to make about his well-being during that time, would have been easier had I not fallen off my practice wagon.
A fundamental principle of the yoga practice as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra is the practice of Abhyasa. It means to dwell in the experience of yoga. It also means to be consistent in your practice. From one perspective, this consistency is about discipline, and the way that a dedicated discipline whittles the frivolous from their life. From another perspective, there is the dwelling in yoga. Scratch below the surface of the idea of dwelling, and we find that dwelling becomes being established in the state of yoga. To be established in the state of yoga is to be unwavering in our expression of yoga’s peace (shanti) in all facets of our lives. When established in the state of yoga, nothing, I mean nothing, could sway you out of being in alignment with the truth, peace and love that is yoga (so I’m told). We become established through consistency in practice, over a long time, without veering from our commitment. We know where we are in our practice when we experience how much or how little it takes for our stability to turn into a wobble. At what point does the emotional turbulence of our minds take precedence over our practice? We may be attending to the burning fire, but our attendance would be enhanced by the stability our established yoga practice confers.
Being anchored in our peace does not mean that we do not communicate. The most effective communication unfolds when we are tapped into the higher dimension of ourselves. If we spend a lot of time on our mats or our cushions, or in deep contemplation of the teachings, then that relationship with our higher self becomes more and more prevalent in our expression off the mat.
Sometimes, there have been those called to act drastically under divine order. I never assume that I am called that way. I know that there have been times in my own life when I spoke harshly to others and I really felt it was something “higher” coming through. But we cannot really know, so nowadays, I stay anchored in peace to the best of my ability and never presume I am being called upon to judge my brothers or sisters. I can communicate my perspective, but I do my best not to judge. I know I never listen to one who is judging me, why would anyone listen to me if I was judging them?
So why practice? There is enlightenment and self-care and exercise and calmness, but right now I propose we consider the importance of maintaining our practices so that we are stable, non-reactive, loving, and wise. Established in yoga. As the miraculous Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” Or we might change that to, “When they go low, we stay high.” To the best of my knowledge, I have perfected none of this. But I do reflect on what I have done and have not done. I check my results. I do commit to practice and take the high road, to the best of my ability and if I fall I forgive myself.
Keep the love alive,