I have rolled that phrase (spoken by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois) over and over in my mind in the many years I’ve been practicing yoga, but I never really knew what it meant.
Correction: I thought I knew what it meant. I thought it meant that the more I practiced yoga, the stronger and more flexible my body would become.
And, of course, that’s true. But it wasn’t until recently that I learned what the phrase really meant.
Let me back up. Like so many of my tribe, I’m a nomad, driven by an insatiable wanderlust. I’m okay with that. But always, beneath that wandering, was a desire for something steady, something or somewhere I could call home. But that place, that mythical home, had always been housed in fantasy. Besides—the thought of settling down? Of spending the rest of my life doing one thing? Terrifying.
Until, that is, it occurred to me that I was already spending my life doing one thing. I just hadn’t noticed because I chose this one thing; I wasn’t being forced into it via a 40-hour work week.
For all of you who practice yoga, you’ll know what I mean when I say that suddenly, at some point in your practice, something shifts. This doesn’t happen just once; it happens over and over again, whether it’s a physical shift and you’re suddenly in a pose you’ve been working on for months or an emotional shift that leaves you in dandasana, crying your eyes out.
But sometimes? It’s a philosophical shift. You read all the classic yoga philosophy, you know that you are responsible for your happiness, that your only true home in inside your body, but you don’t know that (i.e. brain-knowing versus heart-knowing).
Until you receive a philosophical, heart-knowing shift.
Practice and all is coming.
I totally get it now. Practice. It doesn’t have to be yoga. It just has to be your one thing. Writing, reading, dancing, brewing tea, drawing, loving abandoned animals, treating the sick, growing plants. Whatever. Practice that one thing you love. Always. Over and over again, no matter where your wanderlust takes you, and all is coming.
What is this fabled “all?” For me, it’s contentment. Contentment has been so personally and persistently unreachable, that it has always been my own particular all.
Another way to think about this? Woody Allen said that 80 percent of success is just showing up. What is practice but showing up again and again and again? Even for commitment-phobes like myself, showing up for (or practicing) what you love is pretty easy.
Is it easy every day? Let’s not get crazy, now. Of course it isn’t. But once you can see that all hurtling at you, once you can sense it, that practicing becomes a whole heck of a lot more fun, even on the tough, tired, dead-on-your-feet, all-out draining days.
My early morning Ashtanga practice makes me a better teacher, a more tolerant person, a kinder person, a stronger person (and not just physically). No matter what happens to me during the day or where I travel to next, that practice is steady and stable; I can rely on my practice. I don’t have to think about it, I just have to unroll the mat. Why? Because all is coming. And you don’t just brain-know it, you heart-know it; that’s what makes all the difference.
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Ed: Lynn Hasselberger