Photo by Chris White

 

Life throws curveballs. Sometimes I think life does this to see if we’re still in the game. These curveballs can leave us feeling like our life has been turned upside down. We lose the North Star, are left unsure what is real, imagined, or true.

I know. This happened to me last week. A job opportunity waltzed into my world and uprooted all the baby saplings I had just planted showing their first signs of life.
What a great time to practice.

“The very heart of yoga practice is abhyasa—steady effort in the direction you want to go.” – Sally Kempton

But what are we practicing toward?

If you’re a cellist, you pick up the cello every day, practice arpeggios — play difficult sections of a piece until the notes sound unrehearsed. If you’re a teacher, your lesson plan is artfully designed to move each student towards mastery. If you’re an activist, you are out pounding the streets to make change despite the bitter cold.

And if you’re a yogi?

I teach in the Hatha School of Yoga “Anusara,” which means Flow with Grace.

Effort in the practice is a remembering; a drawing inward toward the eternal flow of grace, bliss, and the consciousness from which everything that is manifest arises.
Is it enough to bring a steady effort?

In our western world, we do effort well. Ours is a society of work. But in all this efforting, what are we missing?

The backside of abhyasa is vairagya, which loosely translated from Sanskrit means letting go. Surrender. In other words, we effort to remember to surrender to the flow of grace.

When I practice this way, my whole being lets out an audible sigh. It is such a relief to let go. To release my clinging to control. To remember, feel and trust the universal presence that lives every moment in my breath and all along the backside of my body.

“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender,” says Vince Lombardi. This is true in our yoga practice as well. If our pattern is to strive, we will bring this same pattern to the mat, and miss the point of our practice all-together.

The invitation is to enter more fully into the dance. To play — Lila — in the field of practice. To experiment with finding just the right amount of effort to facilitate a fuller surrender into this flow of grace.

When the curveball comes and shakes every burgeoning bud off the tree, it is good to remember to practice. As I tune into my breath and soften, I acknowledge the wildness of my thoughts, the ancient and outdated fear that seeps into everything. I draw my energy back in towards the center with steady effort. And then I remember. I remember to surrender– all that is beyond my control and all that makes up this self– to the benevolent current of consciousness that flows through everything. 

This is what we are efforting towards. This is the practice.

The seedlings right for this changing climate, the PH in this soil, this alchemical time in my own process of unfolding will sprout again. And who knows? Maybe I’ll be surprised to find a tree I hadn’t even thought I had planted.

 

Photo of 3 Stories Farm