Monday, February 9, 2009

You can't get there if you're not here

At the end of my beginner's yoga class on Monday nights, new students will always ask something to the effect of..."Am I ever going to GET THERE?" - the "THERE" being the place their mind wants them to be.

Let me explain further. Sometimes "getting there" means getting more flexible, or thinner, or more "spiritual" (whatever that means).

So, they ask me "Am I ever going to GET THERE?"

The answer I'm most inclined to give is "What's wrong with being RIGHT HERE?" This is never what they want to hear - and I think they suspect I'm just regurgitating old platitudes from Ram Das.

However, I contend that the biggest obstacle to progress is acceptance. It's extremely difficult to change if I can't accept what is at the present. If I abhor the present moment it's even worse - since the present moment is all I'll ever get.

That's what I love about practicing yoga. I get to surrender and let go of all the "If onlys..."

"If only I were richer..."
"If only I were thinner..."
"If only I were more flexible..."
"If only I were (fill-in the blank).... - THEN ...(the thought goes) my life would be better and I'd be happy!"

All advertising is based on this thought process -"If only I had whiter teeth, then I'd be in a relationship (...and be happy)."

Sadly - this is not the truth. You can be fulfilled, ecstatically happy, content, serene, at peace and filled with joy with EXACTLY AS IT IS NOW. This is what the practice of yoga teaches. It instills a sense of "contentment" - Santosha - with things just as they are.

The "goal" of yoga is not to be more flexible, to do all the funky complex poses. The "goal" of yoga (if there is such an end game) is Kaivalya - ultimate liberation - liberation from the insane thinking that says I'll be better if only.... out there....sometime in the future.


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