On Monday, we shared Part 1 of Ted’s story and journey beginning yoga. His words shared more than he may realize… just yesterday one of our students handed us a two page paper with her story. Ted- Your writing has inspired others to share their transformation too. I cannot thank you enough for having the courage to share and for inspiring this community (Brian and myself included)! This post is one of my favorites… Enjoy!
Mindfulness and My Practice
Being so new to Yoga, I can’t really say much about the technical aspects of my practice. Beyond Downward Facing Dog, Warrior II, Plank, the dreaded Tree, and Savasana, I can’t “name the parts” of any particular asana, and I can’t say I’m proficient at any one of the many poses.
What I want to talk about, instead, is my understanding of what underlies the asana. I describe this as “My Practice,” and the pole star of Practice for me is Mindfulness and Intention. I want to be very careful here to emphasize that all of this applies only to one man’s understanding of Yoga; one new student’s understanding. My Practice comprises only my application of what I perceive to be going on. Each of you will have your own, different, understanding, and Your Practice will, of necessity, be different from mine.
When looked at in the most general sense, My Practice fans out to cover every aspect of how I live my life; at the narrowest, My Practice focuses on regulating my breathing and performing the present pose as well as possible, or simply lying, mindful and at peace, in Savasana.
My Practice is now the execution of Intention, and Intention is the expression of Mindfulness in my life.
Mindfulness is the awareness of all around us and how we affect it, as well as how it affects us.
When you are driving and someone near you does something that affects you—cuts in front of you, changes lanes without signaling, etc. —you have choices about how you will react. Of course, first you make sure you are safe and not endangering others in your response, but then you choose to let your irritation dictate how your further actions will impact those around you. If you let your annoyance take control, you may make unsafe decisions and try to retaliate against someone who may not even be aware you are there. You will retain an elevated pulse rate and carry distracting irritation within you for hours.
But, if you decide to put your natural emotional response in perspective and consciously calm yourself, you can simply drive on and be at peace with yourself and those around you. In this case, you have engaged your Intention to acknowledge outside influences on Your Practice, and to put them aside as beyond your control. By taking a few deep breaths and concentrating on your Intention, you have improved your life, and perhaps that of a few people around you, for a brief period. We face choices like this many times every day, and many times we do not take the opportunity to apply our Intention. The heart of Our Practice is in recognizing these opportunities and acting in a Mindful manner.
Mindfulness is awareness, and the more aware we are of ourselves in all aspects of our lives—physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, etc., if these distinctions really hold any water—the better prepared we are to define our Intention, first as a guide for living a Mindful life and, moment to moment, to define our Intention for applying Our Practice to whatever is in front of us, be it driving, preparing for a class, or executing the next pose in our class.
While Yoga in the broadest sense encompasses all of life, the purpose of our attendance at any Yoga class is to increase our awareness of ourselves—our Mindfulness—through our Practice of set Yoga asana, and help us more clearly to form the idea of our Intention, so that we may direct Our Practice to fulfillment of this Intention.
All of the instructors I have encountered at Greenville Yoga are accomplished, and ever-attentive to the individual needs of their students. Clearly, the greatest part of their Intention is to help each of us, by guiding us in our poses and helping us control our breathing; to develop our personal awareness and define our Intention in leading a more Mindful life. Our instructors, however, cannot hand us our own Intention, or define Our Practice. That is up to each of us, and is a lifelong process. I have just begun this new phase of the recognition of Mindfulness and Intention through the Practice of Yoga. I hope to learn and expand my awareness for many years to come.
Namaste/”The Spirit In Me Acknowledges The Spirit In You”
September 5, 2012