August 21, 2011

The Art Of Aiming True.

Photo: Andrew Woodworth

Have you ever been asked the question, “What’s your aim in life?”

Have you ever understood what the person asking the question meant? It’s quite a powerful question because it is a pretty direct and incisive way to ascertain what your purpose in life is, and what you aim to achieve as a goal. For most people it is quite challenging to define one’s life with a single answer, especially since the first time you hear a question like this you may be only ten or fifteen years old.

The first time I heard this question, I was about twelve years old and was asked this by my mathematics teacher. I replied, “Sorry sir, I don’t quite understand the question.” At which point he retorted, “What do you not understand? What do you want to do when you grow up?” Clearly to my math teacher the question was all about what career path I wished to follow when I got older, probably because that was important to him. Recently I heard the same question posed to a colleague of mine. She elicited a whole list of goals and wants, so in her case the question was about achievement through goal attainment.

I heard this question again recently by a wonderful and inspiring woman who’s career I have been following for some time now. A few weekends back I had the opportunity to meet the lovely Kathryn Budig and take a wonderful workshop titled Aim True.

Before we started this magical flow she went through some points to think about while we practiced. She talked about two important things that impact us through our lives, whether it be on the mat or off. Those two things;  Love and Fear.

Love: Hope, Embrace, Belief, Confidence.

Fear: Doubt, Expectation, Dread.

At this point, I decided to take this questioning further after I came home and tried to create a better understanding of this. What was my true aim in life? I thought about; awareness, intention and motion through emotion. I thought about;

Right now, what is my awareness?

Right now, what is my Intention?

Right now, what is my motion through emotion?

Most people say awareness changes everything, and only when you become aware can you change anything. So, I started becoming more aware of my surroundings and started paying attention to everything around me. My awareness gives me specific clues as to where I am in life right now. If you don’t pay attention, the clues may come like feathers, like a brick or even a truck. But if you pay attention right now in this moment and become honest with yourself, the answers may just be right in front of you.

For instance when my teacher begins inversions I instantly become fearful. I dread being upside down because I have this expectation of myself, when truly Yoga is so not about that. It’s that evil ego personality that starts to kick in. This is then followed by dread, then shame, then embarrassment and so on and so forth.

So how on earth do we change this? The answer is by aiming true.

Currently, I know where I am in my practice. There are some things that I am extremely good at, such as Ustrasana and then there are some things I really dread, such as Bhujapidasana. Some poses that I continue to work on during leela time is Parsva Bakasana. The asanas I am good at make me feel confident, the ones I am not so good at create fear and the ones I play with create hope. It’s just a big cycle with intense emotion…. Whoooow right?!

It can take a toll on you when you have so much emotion flowing through your body.

This is where intention comes in. That sacred time in our practice where we set an intention. The best thing with my intentions, whether I achieve the intention or not, I get to live every moment in line with my values and have each moment filled with that sense of fulfilment. My aim in life as a yoga guide is to teach every person who wishes to learn how to live in the now, moment by moment and have each moment be in line with their values by inhaling hope and love and belief and exhaling the dread, the expectations and the fear.

If you think about it, there is only now. There is no past and no future. This truth is so obvious that when one comes to understand it, one wonders why it was not grasped before. There is something utterly wonderful about the present moment. Suffering comes from ideas about reality to which reality does not, in fact, conform. And so, in the present moment, a great happiness can emerge. When one truly abides in the moment, not desiring to change reality, a kind of pure joy manifests, and it is from this condition that all our creative energy grows. From this place of acceptance and love, the ability to manifest emerges. From a place of present moment awareness comes all the creativity and spontaneity which gives intentions the propulsion they need to manifest. Once you conquer this, soon you’ll realize that there is nothing to achieve, nothing to do and all is well.

Achieving all of this by fulfilment with the consistent practice of asana…. that is my true aim.

I leave you with this quote:

“Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny, it is the light that guides your way.”
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