WHY CONSISTENCY, NOT NECESSARILY VARIETY, IS KEY
Several years ago I remember jumping into this yoga class somewhere, and as we were waiting for the instructor I overheard a lady sitting next to me as she was chatting with a friend. She was going on about how much she loved the instructor and this class because “it was never the same class twice”.
Remembering that brief encounter made me think about how much my own perspective has changed since I first became interested in Yoga.
It looked like such a positive, life-affirming thing to do, and I was lucky. The fellow who would become my first teacher offered to flagship his first certification program with me and two other women completely for free, insisting that he wanted to give back what he was given. He was the first of several teachers I’ll always feel gratitude for.
I have to admit, that I also began teaching with a kind of sense that I needed to entertain people, and that left me feeling that I was leading them towards an unclear end. I had never really locked onto a personal practice that took on any meaning until nearly 15 years later, when I went to an Inner Engineering course & Shambhabi Mahamudra training with Sadghuru in California. Honestly, this completely rearranged my perspective on the purpose of Asana, and the intention behind whatever practices one chooses to do. I threw out most of my instructional videos and previous books that I had collected, and lost interest in teaching classes in anything resembling the way I taught before. In fact, mostly I don’t teach anymore. I far prefer to practice instead.
I’m not advocating a right or wrong method here, but rather sharing my own personal experience that sticking to a single practice for long enough can create a whole new kind of depth for those who truly have difficulty from bouncing all over the place. For me, sticking consistently to the same practice day after day, as simple as it was, did result in a significantly more open body, and a much greater ease with slipping into deeper and more meditative states quickly. Which, by the way, became the new whole point of everything. I know that tapping into our deepest nature is available purely through sitting. It’s available and waiting for everyone who seeks it.
So now, asana is no longer choreography or entertainment or any kind of workout. I use it solely to prepare the body to sit in meditation, and I sit in meditation literally throughout the day (check out my blog on taking regular “Silence Baths“)
I’ve heard enlightenment described in two ways: The first, is like a queen who has been asleep for decades, and who slowly begins to stir and nearly opens her eyes, but then drifts back to sleep over and over again until one day, she gently but fully awakens. The second is the light switch version: “click” you’re fully awake.
I think most of us are definitely going to fall into the “queen” scenario. I come to great epiphanies and personal experiences only to drift back into life and responsibility and distraction again and again.
And that’s okay. It’s part of the process.
A steady and sure practice has become like a rock that I keep fixed on, while keeping an open and curious mind towards feeling around in the dark for the ultimate light switch. Set your need for lots and lots of variety in your practice aside for the opportunity to allow for a single practice to do it’s work on you. Try giving it a “mandala”, or cycle of 30, 45, or 90 days.
CALL TO ACTION: Meditation is a skill that you can and should learn, especially as you take your journey into your 50’s and beyond. The health benefits are legion, but created a deeper connection to the divine source within us all will steady you in your darkest moments. Begin with my simple Silence Bath as a daily practice, and then consider learning more through a formal training such as the Shambhavi Mahamudra mentioned above.