Just Watching Doesn't Work
My husband and I dropped our daughter off to camp, which was moved indoors due to the unusual rainy weather in Lake Tahoe. There was a gym with a large basketball court, and as usual, my husband couldn't resist shooting some hoops.
I wanted to try my hand at it, too, although I hadn't in months. My second shot went down easy - yay! I wanted more of that. So I kept shooting. I missed the next, and the one after that, and the next one. In fact, I just kept missing.
I tried everything. I pushed more with my legs. Followed through with my hand. Attempted to mimick the actions of the big players I have watched on tv. Thought positive thoughts. Visualized the ball swishing through the hoop. Nothing.
Finally, after about 20 or 25 shots, I moved in closer and made one, and decided to stop with that.
The experience reminded me that, no matter what I am doing, just watching someone else do it doesn't work. Otherwise, a lot of us would be professional basketball players.
The spiritual path is like that. We can read all the Sutras, the Gita, the Bible, the Torah or the Koran all day long. We can watch other people meditate. We can look at yoga videos or go to listen to spiritual teachers talk. But if we aren't walking the talk - putting into practice, again and again, what we are learning - we won't be able to awaken.
Patanjali, the father of yoga philosophy, said it aptly; the mind's agitation is stilled by practice and non-attachment. I must be willing to get onto my mat or to sit on my meditation cushion consistently if I am to still my mind and experience transformation in my life.
Not only that, but I must practice the spiritual principles that I know, every day, in all that I do, to the best of my ability (ie, not perfectly!). Yoga is off the mat, and spiritual awakening isn't just for the meditation cushion. It's a transformation of every moment.
This is why we go to classes and seek spiritual community - we receive support on our journey, and have the opportunity to practice under the guidance of a teacher. Just like the coach in basketball that knows how to bring out the best in each player, a good teacher knows how to bring out deeper awareness and awaken the potential in you.
You'll have the opportunity to receive and give that spiritual support in a variety of classes and communities I am offering in the coming months. Yoga Quest - a special series of classes that incorporate yoga, spiritual principles, deep contemplation, and heartfelt discussion - comes to Mind-Body Zone in Fremont for 4 Sunday mornings in Sept.
This first series is focused on the 4 Attitudes of Relationship - Maitri, Karuna, Mudita, and Upeksha. Last month, I wrote an article on the first principle - Friendliness. This month, you'll find my article on Karuna - Compassion - below. You'll explore during Yoga Quest how to put these principles into practice in all areas of your life.
Then, Yoga Quest returns for a second series at Yoga is Youthfulness in Mountain View - 5 Monday mornings in October-November centered around the 5 layers of your being, the Koshas. Registration is now open for both series! Early bird discount for Fremont ends on August 25th!
And whether you are local to the Bay Area or not, you can also join me for The Spiritual Cafe', a community that gathers over the phone to deepen your connection to the Divine. Our next call is Friday August 22nd, 10:30-11:30am Pacific. Call-in details below or on the Spiritual Cafe' page.
I know that it just isn't enough to watch or read about spiritual growth - so I'm getting off my computer to sit for my evening meditation. Are you practicing open-heartedness? Learning to forgive? Letting go of your attachment to outcome? Being present in the moment? Doing your yoga or meditation practice? Keep practicing - don't give up!
Don't worry, you're not expected to be perfect. It's OK if it takes 20, 30, 100 or more shots. Keep practicing, and little by little, you'll make it to the goal.