With Enthusiasm

“Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break, and with enthusiasm.” –Inside the Yoga Sutras (1.14), Carrera

Recently, I’ve recommitted myself to my practice and all aspects of it.  I’m not just doing the physical practice five to six times a week, but practicing pranayama (breathing practices) and meditation too.  Getting on my mat is easy, but the other stuff doesn’t have the glitz and glamour. There’s probably a reason why the hashtag #pranayamaselfie never really took off on Instagram.

I feel better when I meditate and breathe.  I’m more focused.  I’m more productive.  When I meditate, I have a bird’s eye view of myself.  My own ego bullshit doesn’t go away.  I am still petty at times.  Having a meditation practice means that when I’m about halfway into some vitriolic Facebook rant on the state of the nation there’s voice inside that just says, “You know you are spilling your guts to 400 of your closest internet acquaintances in an attempt to get validation of your own feelings, right?”

Oh…

The post gets deleted 98% of the time.  That’s what this practice has done for me.  I still feel all the rage at the injustice in the world, but I just get some space from it.  There is just enough space to decide to do something different.

Regardless of the benefits I had a hard time keeping up with a meditation practice. Like any person trying to start a good habit, I would get on the wagon with great fervor only to wholeheartedly jump off weeks later.  In a few weeks or months, I would hop back on only to repeat the cycle.  So, the above quote about “enthusiasm” always tripped me up.  Sure, we all can begin just about anything with great enthusiasm, but over time we get bored or restless.  We give up.  In my experience, I would get this way because I was attached to some result.  I wasn’t getting what I thought I was supposed to get.  Why haven’t I lost 30 lbs yet?  Why can’t I do headstand?  How come I’m not floating around on a cloud of lotuses while greeting all of my previous sworn enemies with, “Om Shanti”?  I still practice.  I still fall off the practice wagon.  Over time the gaps between falling off and getting back on are smaller which to me is progress.

…Back to this enthusiasm thing…

I’ve read that line and the translation comments at least 50 times, and for some reason this week I flipped to the back of the book for the literal Sanskrit translation.  I didn’t know what I would do with this knowledge as I am not a Sanskrit scholar.  I just followed this urge to flip the pages to see what was there.

Satkara = enthusiasm; care, attention, devotion, sincerity, earnestness; from sat = right + kr = to do.  Satkara implies “to do right by.”

To do right by.

Every time I read that phrase it was like lightning bolts were shooting in my head.  To do right by.  Enthusiasm didn’t mean to hop around with pep and optimism like some hyped up teenager.  That cannot be sustained.  It meant care and attention.  It meant approaching my yoga, my body, my meditation, my LIFE with reverence, care, attention, and earnestness.  The key to having a well grounded practice was to devote myself repeatedly over time.

There’s no battle to fight.  There’s nothing to overcome.  There’s not even a promise of a reward.  I’m just left with myself.  Knowing all of these things, I still make the decision that I’m something to do right by.

 

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