There is a concept in yoga called VIVEKA (viv-ek-uh). This translates almost directly into discernment. Essentially, it is the ability to choose right from wrong, too little from too much, and helpful from non helpful. We have an interesting paradigm of understanding yoga philosophy in the west in that we often intellectualize the Yoga Sutras rather than really understanding them from our heart space. The interesting thing with VIVEKA and most of the sutras in general, is that they aren’t really an intellectual exercise. Most of the qualities and the phenomenon that are discussed in the sutras (like AHIMSA/nonviolence or BRAHMACHARYA/preservation of energy or SANTOSHA/contentment & gratitude) arise spontaneously when we do our practice and surrender.
This is a pretty revolutionary idea in a culture that emphasizes immediate satisfaction guaranteed. To arrive at a place in your development where you begin to see the qualities you have been striving to embody actually manifest, is akin surprising and thrilling. After dedication, hard work, practice, and surrendering over and over, YOGA philosophy comes alive within you, especially DISCERNMENT.
For yoga to actually come alive within you, there is a key, key, key component that is involved. The KEY to yoga rising up within your mind and life like a phoenix from the ash is having a goal. When there is a goal that you are working towards, your entire life will have direction.
If I ask you what your goals are, you will probably say something along the lines of paying off my student loans, or getting a promotion at work or losing X pounds. While all of these are admirable goals, unfortunately they won’t inspire deep spiritual transformation. In a way, they may do the opposite, perpetuating a cycle of egosim, attachment, aversion, and suffering. They may be subgoals on the spiritual path, but they most likely aren’t going to initiate an awakening of the soul. The goal that makes the spirit come alive must be deeper than that, must be recognized on the heart level. For a goal to initiate a healing journey, this goal must resonate with the deepest part of you. The Yoga Sutras suggests that the goal is union. Union with the divine, with the primordial energy, union of the masculine and feminine, union with G-O-D and however you might choose to define that concept that is undefinable.
From the deep goal of true YOGA (union), there are lifestyle conditions that would logically allow you to make that goal a reality. This is called your SVADHARMA or your ideal of perfection. It’s like a circle around the circle. What are the ideal conditions that might contribute to your union being reached in this lifetime? That might look like having a healthy body throughout your entire life, it may look like having a quiet home where you can work in the garden and meditate every morning, or it might look like living off the grid in a cave as a monk. DISCERNMENT is about working towards those conditions that will bring you closer to UNION. Manifesting those conditions require goals and steps along the ladder. Perhaps first you must change your diet and lose some weight so you can breathe better, perhaps you must get out of debt, clean up your credit score, and save some money so you can purchase your sanctuary. Maybe you even have to do your spiritual discipline enough to be able to renounce worldly possesions.
The beautiful thing is that when a deep, life centering, heart embodying goal is realized by your conscious and unconscious mind, all the changes in your life that you may have been struggling to make (changing the diet, ending the cycle of bad relationships, etc) easily fall away. It’s almost scary how effortlessly you are able to make change because you are now aligned with your hearts deepest desire. To walk into the grocery store and have DISCERNMENT spring to life is exciting and terrifying. To look in the mirror and have a negative thought about your body followed immediately by the thought well that’s not helpful to me reaching my goals, I don't think I will hold onto that thought about my thighs as truth is remarkable and shocking.
Of course, karma plays a role in the awakening and manifestation of a goal but I can tell you that key players involve true surrender, non attachment, and a practice that shows you the patterns that contribute to your suffering, and being around people who inspire you. All I can really offer you right now is the suggestion to get your practice on. If you are going to do asana, practice in a way that doesn't perpetuate old movement patterns and ego desires! Scrutinize your thoughts and your day to day life and see if it how you approach your to-do list helping you or hurting you in any way. Most of all DON’T AVOID YOUR MEDITATION PRACTICE.
That is all for now.