A Firmly Grounded Practice

3.6.09



From the unlocked cage of my heart,
White doves of love go winging,

Wild larks of sunrise singing,

The ice of my heart is broken, broken,

Joys fountain leaps in the air,

And all the while no word was spoken,
I only looked at something fair.

~ Sangtharakshita



Haven't posted much lately on daily practice, so I feel due. I've continued to carry on where I left off in Mysore, India, going deeper within each posture, finding new edges or places to enter. Even though I've been doing it for years it hasn't been boring in the least. Enriching at best. Yeah, I've practiced 3rd series with several certified teachers that felt I was in a good place, but I've learned just how intertwined each series really is, and how nothing is ever lost. Rediscovering familiar postures with continued enthusiasm has never ceased to bear fruit. At any rate, I feel inspired to stick with what I've practiced with Sharath and simply be with it.

Instead of worrying about any one posture, my focus has continued with how I link each posture together, flowing in a unified manner. This is where I feel encouraged to deepen. Allowing my breath to fuel the movement, and be present with each place I come into isn't always easy, but once lost in the breath and movement, nothing feels better. The formula of this connection gives boundless space to experience inner freedom. Connectedness. In the flow, I've begun to notice places where I cut my breath short, having a tendency to loose focus or inner stillness. These are good places to observe, while ironing out the angst I feel when it comes to any one asana. Can I find deeper ease and steadiness? What is it that pulls me out of center? Where do I tend to effort too much or become complacent? Obviously, these processes happen in a fraction of a second, but nonetheless it has taken me inside the depths of the mind where everything begins.

With that being said I'd like to continue with excerpts from, Inside the Yoga Sutras, by Reverend Jaganath Carrera where he shares his insights on what it means to have a 'firmly grounded' practice.

1.14 Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break, and with enthusiasm.

What is a "firmly grounded" practice and why is it a desirable state?

A firmly grounded practice is one that occurs daily without strain or grudging participation. It is meaningful, inspired, and focused. It is a joyful habit that accompanies practitioners throughout their lives and becomes the unbroken thread that guides them to Self-realization.

A firmly grounded practice is not simply an ingrained routine of spiritual exercises but an anticipated time of connection to deeper levels of self. It is a time of growing acquaintance with our True Identity, of spiritual discovery and nurturance. Times in practice are times of integration and increasing wholeness. This vision of practice is the ideal and is achievable by anyone who follows the advice presented in this sutra.

The attainment of a firmly grounded practice marks an important stage in spiritual pursuits: it is the shift from "doing Yoga" to having Yoga practice become a natural expression of who we are. Practices are no longer activities outside us--techniques or observances that have been added to our daily life. Practices become as integral to our life experience as eating and sleeping.

Yet most practitioners know that there are times when practice is not a pleasant experience. Initial enthusiasm--the anticipation and zeal to experience the peace and joy of higher spiritual states--can gradually give way to complacency and carelessness. These are times when much of our energy is spent on cajoling, persuading, and sometimes even intimidating ourselves to practice. When practice is irregular, the hoped-fo benefits are not realized leading to a downward spiral of even less frequent, less focused practice. To avoid this pitfall, Sri Patanjali offers a simple, effective formula for cultivation a firmly grounded practice.

He goes on to mention the importance of patience, knowing it will take time, the value of consistency, and emphasis on enthusiasm possessing non-attachment to results, however stressing that no effort in Yoga is ever wasted. I especially like the enthusiasm part. Whenever doing something joyfully, no matter what it is, makes the process in itself a living, breathing work of art to experience in the moment.

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