I ask you a very simple question. What is important to you? What in your life really matters? I am sure you have a million things on this list, but at the core of all of that, what is the most important thing? The answer to this question may change your life if you choose to listen. It may give you guidance about what is the next step on your healing journey.
A long list arises when I ask myself this question: paying my bills, making sure Appa is fed, nourishing my body, exercise, living in a nice neighborhood, paying off my student loans, feeling like I am part of a community. The list goes on, of course, and while they are all very important and noble, upon deeper reflection they aren’t what I want to be focusing on in my practice nor are they what I want to live my life by. None of these things suggest true spiritual evolution, but comfortable life circumstances.
If I really dive into my heart to ask this question, what arises is cultivating the quality of COMPASSION through forgiveness. In particular forgiving those I perceive have caused me pain, forgiving myself for the ways I have punished those people, and forgiving myself for holding onto the quality of anger for so long. Diving even deeper, what matters is cultivating the quality of PRESENCE and SURRENDER, and trusting that as I shine the light of my awareness on these corners of my being, that with sincere practice I will resolve the patterns and habits that block compassion.
For you, love, the answer to what really matters will depend on the life circumstances that you were born into (your karma) and the habitual patterns being played out now (your samskaras). The answer will be just as layered as mine and will narrow down to a single petal on your healing journey, because certainly the work will never be complete.
This month in class, I invite us to explore this question, to contemplate the answer, and to remember that our practice is what brings us closer to living towards what matters.
ON GETTING DISTRACTED
It’s too easy to get swept away by to-do lists, by chasing and grasping what we are attached to, and by running from what might bring us pain. Furthermore, it’s easy in this cultural climate to use a yoga practice to satisfy and serve the needs of the ego. This might look like contorting the body or the personality into something that someone out there might love and never want to leave. Approaching asana or meditation practice in this way is common.
I personally used to “do yoga” for this very reason. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to appear grounded and stable to my family and friends. I thought wearing yoga would do that for me. This is called spiritual bypassing.
As I have developed and evolved as a practitioner, there came a point where I couldn’t fake it till I made it. I looked at myself and saw that even though I could do a deeper stretch in my asanas and chant to Lakshmi for 20 minutes at a time so that my classes would be full, nothing inside was changing. I was still as selfish, neurotic, and unstable as ever.
My practice had to change. Where I have focused in the past on creative, complex, and flashy sequencing and visually appealing altar work, I now emphasize the spirals and rotations of the limbs in each asana as a means of creating creating deep introspective awareness around balance and imbalance. By adding in tidbits of regular philosophy and devotional chanting with the key ingredient of unraveling the patterns of the body as a metaphor for unraveling the habits of my life, I feel like I am more in alignment with what I want to bring into my classes and into my relationships than ever.
This inner alignment has come through cultivating a practice that is not just going through the motions of satisfying my ego attachments, but tapping into what really matters as a bridge to pure transformation and surrender.
Answering the question what really matters has created such an incredible shift in my practice and life that this month I offer my classes up to answering these questions. Each experience is carefully designed to drop us into our deepest intentions for our spirit, not just the body or the mind.
Join me in answering these questions for yourself. Whether near or far, may we all arrive on our mat this cycle and travel towards living from a deep understanding of what really matters. May we all remember that the practice can take us there. The practice can wake us up. Go to where you will listen. Practice so that you will live from what you have heard.
Join me this month in remembering. See you on the mat.