Now that I have completely entered into the world of a home-based self-practice, with my teacher, students and friends all 5,000 miles away, the reality of being disciplined is key.
Practicing with others gives you energy, support and inspiration. I’ve just finished a month of solo practice and I can tell you that this experience is quite a different kettle of fish.
Peg Mulqueen wrote recently in a timely post, “When the student is ready, the teacher will DISappear.” I didn’t think I was ready, but this is what I’m doing.
The idea that the Ashtanga practice is a moving meditation is coming into stark relief. I have heard this idea bounced around for over two decades and generally my thoughts around it have been, “What a lovely thing… a mooooving meditation” or, “Yes, of course that’s what I do – moving meditation”.
Today, I got a new insight on what this really means (and maybe I’m just slow on the pick up) but this is what I’ve gleaned:
1. Meditation is rarely peaceful (personal confession).
I’ve been meditating for a long time. It is difficult. It’s difficult because when you sit still your thoughts get louder.
2. My inner critic is a stamina filled bitch with an eye for detail.
She’s downright mean sometimes. She picks at alignment, pours salt in old wounds about body image, knocks me down for self-praise and whispers doubt into my ears…but like Jimmy Buffett sings, “Every now and then the dragons come to call, just when you least expect it you’ll be dodging canon balls.” My inner critic can throw some nasty daggers (sometimes I get stabbed) but the more I practice, the better I become at dodging!
3. Enough is enough.
The antidote to the inner critic is compassion. Despite doing a full practice today, my inner critic said, “Well, what about drop-backs?” I had to reply that I had done a good practice and that was enough. Even days when my effort to practice stops at three sun salutations, it is enough. I am enough. We can’t equate quality of self with quantity of practice.
Enough is enough.
Yes there is a fine line between over-exertion and laziness. In Yin yoga we call it ‘the edge’. It’s riding that place where there is effort, there is sensation, but it’s not too much. After all, if this is to be a practice of longevity, we have to preserve this body/mind, look after ourselves and be kind to ourselves.
Practice is not the physical practice (the physical body is merely the vehicle) for mind control. When we realize this, then we can see how the practice is a moving meditation….now, isn’t that a lovely idea…