“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of
preaching.” – Mohandas Gandhi
We go to work and “do” our job, we “do” the laundry, we “do” the housework, we “do” the carpool, we help “do” the homework. We “do” our hair and grooming and we “do” our make-up. We “do” our hobbies, we “do” our exercise. We “do” the bills and we make “do” with what we have at the present moment. Sometimes we even “do” things we don’t want to do. Sometimes we refer to an unpleasant task or obligatory event as a “have to-do.”
A lot to do. Life is filled with it.
But the question is what are you “Practicing?”
“Doing” can be a mindless, almost reactive approach to the opportunity to be present in a world that constantly demands us to be “not” present. Distractions, multi-tasking, back to back appointments, television and negative news stories throw us into a state of confusion and frenzy. The illusion of this world summons us, like a carnival hypnotist, to move away from our inner self and be distracted by the bright shiny objects of the modern world.
The act of practicing encourages us to be present with what we are “doing” at any given time. By slowing down and actually choosing to be a part of the process of “doing” whatever it is we are engaged in – be it dishes, laundry, giving the dog a bath or simply sitting and looking out at the world – we are able to not only enjoy the action itself but to be fully engaged and be involved in what is happening.
By practicing we go deeper. We go deeper into ourselves and we go deeper into our experience of being here. If you believe that being here is simply about getting by and getting what you can until you get out, you are kind of missing the point. I am not standing in judgement of you by any means. But one of the basic ways of helping us to remember why we are here is to be more present in our every moment.
Once we start to “practice” instead of “doing,” we grow richer. We evolve from darkness and we move toward the Light that is within us. Our darkness will convince us that we are all separate and that what we are “doing” at any given time is more important than what the person next to us is “doing.”
We need our time to get it done. Don’t get in my way, I am “doing” something.
But as we practice instead of doing and live within our present Divine self, our Light begins to burn out the darkness. We suddenly find we have more time and practice takes on a new dimension, one of service.
When we move into service, we start to see our daily actions as part of something greater. We seek ways to serve others. We see how our “doing” has actually been a kind of “service” all along. We embrace that. It raises our energy to a higher vibration. Then we start to seek out ways to serve others in a greater way. We feel an undeniable need to grow beyond the mundane and contribute to something, to help, to lend a hand, to raise a spirit or simply to bring a smile.
As Mother Teresa so poignantly pointed out, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
How may I be of service? Is it helping my boss with something at work? Is it helping a senior at my place of work? Is it serving my family by taking care of things at home or cooking them a high vibrational nutritional meal? Is it being kind in traffic? Is it volunteering in the community? Is it choosing kind words instead of gossip? Is it letting someone who seems in a hurry behind me in the grocery store to go first? Is it donating to a charity? Is it loving my neighbor, no matter how challenging they may seem to my ego? Is it teaching yoga in the community for free? Yes, to all of those things.
Yoga Without Walls was created from this desire to serve others. We wanted to bring yoga to the community for EVERYONE. Regardless, if someone could not touch their toes, or even stand for long periods of time. In a time when the world seems to be falling to pieces, what better way to reach out and help others to find the present moment? When we teach a class, no matter if we did downward dog or we did not or we did more breathing that day or more Sun Salutation does not matter. What we bring to those classes is our spirit and our will to serve.
Yoga is one of the best examples to illustrate “doing” and “practice.” You can do yoga. You can achieve the most challenging poses. You can do a perfect crow or the most pristine head stand. Yoga is a wonderful exercise.
But true yoga does not just exercise the body, it exercises the mind and spirit. It shakes up your energy and wakes up the chakras. It gets to your core. The prana starts to move through you differently. You start to understand the breath is a powerful force. You feel comfortable being quiet and your mind learns to be silent as well.
You can do the asanas. Anyone can. But the litmus test is if you do not experience some kind of personal transformation over time, you are only “doing’ yoga you are not practicing it.
Practicing yoga takes us deeper. It takes us into uncharted territories in our very being. It awakens things in us we never knew. And very often, if we are truly lucky, it helps to awaken the great monkey archetype, Hanuman, which encourages us to serve others.
“you’re compassion in action devotion in motion / with the strength to leap the length of the ocean” – MC YOGI, Rock on Hanuman
There is an old saying “Practice makes perfect.” Maybe practice does not make us perfect. Rather, it brings us closer to our sense of perfection, the Divine. Perhaps, in a wider sense, practice makes us whole. It helps us to remember who we are, why we are here and helps us to remember that we do in fact, “belong to each other.”
I encourage you, if you have not done so already to view this video about Narayanan Krishnan.
And then ask yourself, “What did I do today?”