16 Jan Awareness and Perspective
Practicing Ashtanga yoga and applying it in my daily life has sharpened my sense of awareness and perspective, whether that be in its true relation or relative importance.
One thing in particular is the observance of how well I invest mental and physical energy towards a situation, idea or even towards how well I spend my time allowing me to navigate more freely towards a positive and healthier frame of mind/outlook and also a more strong/steady and graceful body through the actions I take. All of which are fruits of daily practice, on and off the mat
Gradually over time, one thing I have witnessed is the shift from investing or even obsessing in that which is weighing me down and unnecessary to finding it easier to letting go, forgiveness, expanding compassion and heart out to others and radiating In more peace and joy to the way I live my life.
We live in an age were we are surrounded by and consumed with so much hatred, violence, anger and guilt. All of which are poisons that penetrate deep into the body and soul as a result of holding onto these forms unconsciously and consciously. We only have to watch the news, turn on the internet, or leave the house and we are imprinted with thousands of impressions. The very thought that we are penetrating these impressions whether realized or not is enough the send shivers down your spine. As such, we start to feel deep-seated fear and anxiety and our perspectives on things start to take shape as a result of unconscious patterns that we are, at the large part, not even aware of. We start to feel heavy, the body starts to stiffen up and our mental capacity to see beyond the borders of confusion are limited as we continually grind away at holding on to the identity of our limited perspectives as it is so deeply rooted, were not even aware.
So were do some of these perspectives originate from; ideas and beliefs that we have grown up with and inherited to that which we have learned from our environment naturally as a direct influence of our surroundings; whether that be environmental or technological. Are these truly our own perspectives born from intelligent wisdom and insight? or deep-rooted perspectives that have been placed nicely? a matter of good timing so to speak, on part of environment and biology. To answer such questions, this is where Ashtanga practice has been a powerful method and beautiful companion in my daily life.
When I have new students in my class, I like to introduce one of the important roles the practice has played in my journey. The practice has been a medicine for both my body and mind in regards to the illusions I have held so firmly without even realizing. For instance, on the physical level I could not do most things, I was very stiff and could not even reach my toes or bend forward. I hated twisting postures. I found this difficult as I did with most of the postures. I always thought I would never complete the primary series, never mind a quarter of the series. But I felt a strong connection to this practice and from the first count, ekam inhale, I felt something I could not describe so I persevered and I practiced and slowly my body opened up and eventually I started to move into postures more gracefully, with breathe and ventured into deeper spaces I once never thought was possible for me at all. My mind started to shift from impossible to possible and my comfort zone grew bigger as I started to experiment and try more things. I realized my fears towards trying things were more under control, my relationship with pain had changed and the illusion or mental toxins I held about my self had started to dissolve. Ideas such as “I am not worthy of this”, “I cannot do this” started to melt into the background as word such as – “it is possible”, “I’m worthy”, “I am more powerful than I can imagine” start it take centre fold. So eventually the self-limiting beliefs that I guarded so closely to the frame of my heart and mind started to dissolve.
Eventually what is left is nothing but the essential oils of the practice; the breath and you – releasing you into a deeper sense of the moment, the power of now! No self-limiting beliefs and thoughts to hide behind. Almost like polishing a mirror over and over again until you can see your reflection more clearly. However, the mirror can easily become muddy again and you continually come to your mat and continue your practice, polishing the mirror.
It’s easy to push ourselves further than we should by using physical means to touch the toes or grab our wrists – taking us out of the breath and moment and into a projected future image of how something should be like rather than enjoying the beautiful aspects of where you are. Alternatively, not putting in the effort where required as we are afraid to go further whether it is due to a projected pain or fear we have towards moving into uncharted or uncomfortable territory. And so, we make mental projections based on these fears as we approach new situations, continually forcing old patterns to make decisions on oncoming new situations. Living in either the past or the future, but never fully gravitating in the centre-fold of the present moment. I have come to experience and find the practice it self helps to sharpen the mind, focus, bring yourself in to the present – moment by moment… time and time again by using the breath, bandhas and drishti and we can start to develop new insight and perspective. Ultimately, it is not about whether you can bind, touch your toes or complete a posture as these are all secondary and by products as a result of daily practice, but rather, how we approach a posture and with what intention. After all, the intention is the yardstick in which we can measure the quality of our action. This is a great analogy for our lives and a beautiful insight I have come to learn and appreciate through the practice of Ashtanga yoga.
A new perspective starts to take place and we can chose in what direction we will direct our energy and best efforts and then magic truly starts to happen in your life, off the mat. The mat, your faithful companion, is a reflection or microscopic universe to the world at large. When you step of the mat and start to truly apply the teachings of the reflections you have encountered in your practice can you be guided like a compass towards living a more fulfilling life. Fulfilling in the sense that you have more awareness, fully grounded in the present and truly enjoying all its shades and colors in its full spectrum. In this state, it is easier to make fruitful decisions that are going to be beneficial rather than make choices based on ingrained habitual patterns. Life seems a little more meaningful and relationships more joyful.
On a more philosophical note. through daily practice, repetition, meditation, discipline , philosophy and directing energy a certain way, we start to see things a little more clearly. We start to question things we one held closely treasured as the ultimate truth, the very fabric of our existence. We start to notice what we one believed in no longer serves us. Connecting to a deeper space, we start to notice the identities we have held onto for dear life and start to let go and create new meaning. New shifts towards deeper questions of who am I beyond this physical body? What is the meaning of life in the one relation to this world? and what is my purpose in it? What kind of person do I want to be? What is habit and what is my natural state? How can I be the best of myself and how do I want to help others be the best version of them-selves by extending my hands out help and serve others?
The very thought of understanding your place in the one relation to this universe and appreciating the bigger picture helps to enjoy better relationships and material success, forgive easily and not hold onto any delusions or mental toxins weighing you down unnecessarily, forgive yourself and move forward, clear space and welcoming new energy and relationships, giving you a deeper meaning to your life and living a more purposeful life.
Now imagine If we had the power to reflect and gain insightful perspective on a situation whilst in the moment rather than in hindsight. We can start to direct our best efforts and energies in way that can start to shape our future for the better. Certainly we could make a positive impact and start to create a shift in ourselves and the environment around us in far more powerful and greater ways than if we dwindled along silently and unconsciously in the borders of our confusion, belief systems, ideas, ideologies and so forth.
We could quite easily argue, those that spend less time pondering over the mishaps and trivial circumstances tend to achieve more and whist doing so are more joyful and have a positive outlook that benefits themselves and the environment around them.