Fuse physicality and Integrity. Build a Better World by your Actions
The empty mat, the delayed New Years Resolution, and the almost forgotten dream - what happened? Don't you remember when you woke up that morning, with the intensity of a cheetah chasing a gazelle, that today would be the day life will change for the better? You made an internal commitment to take that first step toward a better life, and you did! Congratulations! But maybe you stepped on gum. So now the mat is untouched, the gym membership is unused, projects are pending, and you barely find time to wash your clothes and sleep.
Bruce Lee was quoted as stating "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." He emphasized, in a simple way, the importance of consistency. Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers, estimated that it takes about 10,000 hours of consistent practice in order to truly master any skill (is 10,000 always the magic number?). In conclusion, it's important to take that first dreadful step towards your dreams, but it's more important to maintain a healthy routine toward these dreams. Consequently, consistency separates the dreamers from the doers. But how does one make sure he/she can maintain enough consistency to be successful? The struggle is real, especially if the idea of routine doesn't excite you. The "Eye of the Tiger" training regimen on Rocky III may have been an exciting and inspiring 4 minutes, but our own training may take a bit longer.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there is almost a promise that there will be setbacks to personal goals because the mind needs to overcome several obstacles. Book 1, Sutras 30 - 32 outline the difficulties the mind will encounter along with their outward consequences. Yes, you will get sick, lazy, injured, restless, unstable in mind/body, and generally lose all you gained while becoming reluctant to continue on the yogic path. A few lines later, however, Pantajali reassures the reader that sustaining a strong mental will and determination (Ahimsa), through a single-pointedness, will allow the yogi to overcome his/her personal obstacles. But how is it even possible, given that our mind floats between past, future, and a myriad of tasks in between the thought of a career or project? Single-pointedness can seem like a death sentence to survival in our modern world of multi-tasking.
This single-pointedness is tied to the essence of our "spirit", or something that remains focused during, beyond and despite the daily world and its struggles. There is something inside of us that exists in endless observation without judgement. It is the observer. Take a moment to close your eyes and just notice your breath. Many notice their breath, for at least a second, without a single emotion or concern. Within this second, there is a moment that is bliss, or almost blissful. According to Yoga Sutras such as 4:20-21, within this is the observer. No matter what we are doing, thinking, or feeling, there is something inside of us that is merely observing the process in complete neutrality.
Why is this important? The Observer within us inherently knows how to never be overwhelmed by life. The Observer fundamentally bridges the tasks at hand with the career or ultimate goals. The Observer has no preference, although it incessantly whispers the difference between what you want and what you need to achieve fulfillment in this life.
In yoga, the promise is that, yes, you will experience setbacks. Thankfully, returning to a moment of single-pointed observation - just close your eyes and focus on your breath - can bring back enough ease and personal power to eventually reclaim your highest potential. This action is available to everyone at almost anytime (no excuses). In fact, this is a promise of the 5,000 year old Sutras (how did they know?!), and I have witnessed it for myself. Not only do these blogs sometimes slip my memory as I confront other tasks and aspirations, but my physical practice has slipped due to injury, illness, and various mundane issues. The mental and emotional part of me lives in deep concern when this occurs, experiencing guilt and even anger. But there is also a part of me that simply notices what I am doing, feeling, not doing, and witnesses the gaps and spaces between them. These moments, in a clear head, tell me that 5 minutes on my mat no longer feels overwhelming or impossible. A few mindful movements could be all I could promise myself, but it can suddenly lead to a rigorous practice.
I keep this promise and practice in mind with any task I have determined to handle within my career path: a steady practice, teach, blog, record, plan workshops/retreats, execute them all, repeat. There is an infinitely wise being within that already knows your potential and how to manage and fulfill your wants and needs. Quiet the mind for a moment and become more acquainted with him/her today.
Where is life taking you? Are you steering and shaping every coming event, or trusting the fates to manifest your life? Perhaps it is a mixture of both, as we attempt to control for the most repulsive of situations while tolerating or accepting life matters that may ultimately benefit us. It is a game between getting what you want and going with the flow of life. How safe and healthy is the latter? It can be wonderful, but go with the flow only if you trust that the current will take you somewhere you want to go. These were my insights as I gaze out into the stunning waves of Ribamar in Portugal. This location was partially a coincidental gig, but based on informed decision-making. Ultimately, I went forward with trust. Perhaps you simply need to know that you’ll be somewhere safe, or maybe you need to know that you’ll be somewhere worthwhile. I have come to learn that there is a very fine line between being adaptable and overly passive. It makes no sense to support others if it means neglecting or damaging yourself.
Having worked several jobs and internships since the age of 16, it was important to eventually realize that many employers will not always have your best interest at heart. It may be important to hold a job, but it is more important to sustain a steady vision of the life you wish to realize through the job. While working for a small martial arts studio, managing website development and maintenance gave me valuable experience while affording discounted lessons. They may have belittled my work financially, but it was a necessary means to develop skills and further inspire physical and professional goals. This a small example of using a world in a manner that is mutually beneficial.
Contrarily, one can encounter situations that do not align with the destination or goal. Having received a position in Germany at a guest house, the idea was to gain valuable organizational insight in hospitality while furthering lingual competence, teaching yoga, and offering other healing modalities. To be faced with complete organizational incompetence, a dislike for guests, a belittling of staff needs, and inevitably an empty house, I was faced with a decision. The decision was whether to simply accept the contractual discrepancies in order to smooth operations at the guesthouse, pulling upon my own experience to further their growth, or abandon this endeavor for other options. I was encouraged by the owners to "go with the flow" several times, and I stayed at the guesthouse for several weeks after I had realized the discrepancies and exploitation. Eventually, and thankfully, I realized that I simply did not trust the flow of their unloving project. It lacked every element and value that, in my opinion, makes a guesthouse in the business of healing a worthy investment of my time. Instead, a gig in Portugal (ironically) gave me all the valuable insight and development I could have imagined within a short period of time.
As in Taoist or Buddhist philosophies, it is best to consider a middle path between reward and sacrifice when considering long-term projects. Never forget your own goals and how you can see jobs as collaborative projects.