After 19 years of yoga practice, there is one fundamental mindset which I find needs constant attention and vigilance, and that is to remember and enjoy the fruits of practice as they ripen. Hatha Yoga, which includes all varieties of flow yoga styles (Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Krama, Power Yoga, Bikram, etc ), is a tantric practice where we purposely manipulate our direct experience to produce effects within the body-mind. Those purposeful manipulations include the postures, breathing techniques, and visualizations that we employ during the practice of a particular sequence.
However, if we’re not extremely careful, some insidious distortions can arise in our mind streams. We will find ourselves subtly (or not so subtly) trying to get somewhere in our practice, improve our direct experience, or avoid it. Unfortunately, if any of these become ingrained mental habits, we will spend the majority of our precious time on the mat in a conceptual prison of our own making; effectively separating ourselves from the fullness, richness, and profound beauty of direct embodied experience. In short, we miss the opportunity to thoroughly enjoy the ripened fruits of our efforts.
If this doesn’t ring a bell or make sense let me provide some examples. How many times has each of us been engaged in mental chatter where we’re either looking ahead to a posture we love, or dreading an upcoming posture which we don’t enjoy? Or spending days, months, years trying to make a posture(s) perfect? How about skipping a posture or two that is consistently uncomfortable or difficult? Ever found yourself in a mental dialogue about how practice is not improving or progressing fast enough? Or maybe you notice with a touch of embarrassment that your breathing has been on unconscious autopilot for the entire practice? We’ve all been there. If any of these examples (and there are many others) strike a nerve, then you may have fallen into the trap of focusing too much on the “Becoming” perspective of practice, and lost focus on the perspective of “Simply Being”.
Maintaining a balance of Being and Becoming is the key to enjoying the fruits of our practice and of Life Itself.
It is a profound paradox that our direct embodied experience appears to be arising and passing away in time, while simultaneously the knowing of our experience is immediate and continuous. The apparent arising and passing away is the perspective of Becoming, and this is synonymous with learning and maturing over time. By contrast, Simply Being is the Now, the absolute perfection of Pure Presence. Both are necessary and are in fact inseparable. The question is whether or not we recognize this truth from moment to moment. From the Becoming perspective, there is a unique Human Being that is practicing, learning, and maturing over time, and from the perspective of Simply Being, every moment of experience is perfect just as it is; and it is imperative that we learn to hold both in a balanced view as we practice and live our lives.
As a Human Becoming there is a long journey of growing through engaging a path of practices and teachings; however, as a Human Being every step on the journey IS the journey; and this perspective is necessary to fully enjoy the fruits of practice. We don’t need to get somewhere, improve our experience, or avoid what is happening.
We simply need to remain present with our direct embodied experience and maintain an attitude of appreciation and kindness.
If we practice in this way, we will spend much more time noticing and enjoying the depth, mystery, and beauty of our internal universe. This moment-by-moment recognition IS the gift of practice, and over time, a profound sense of gratitude will grow and mature as we recognize and harvest the ever ripening fruit of full embodiment. In short, we will find ourselves continuously Becoming Human Beings that are manifesting and expressing our unlimited potential of interconnected LOVE in the world.