Practicing What Moves Us Forward
Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Change requires change. Imagine YOU EMPOWERED to better than where you find yourself today....
Especially when times are tough as they are this year, when we are most anxious, vulnerable and suffering, it is crucial to increase the time we devote to our " best practices" on every level.
As author John Maxwell has said, "You'll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of success is found in your daily routine."
To move forward, especially in times of sickness and misfortune, requires vision and perseverance. We cannot simply HOPE to be well and wait for life to get better. Events this week reminded me of the importance of perseverance. The practice of practicing what we know is good to do, sense is possible, but has been impossible so far. The necessity of committing to doing something each day that moves us closer to our goal until we reach it. John Lewis's lifework for equality, The success of a manned SpaceX after the last manned Space Shuttle exploded. The results achieved reducing COVID spread in the countries of New Zealand, Canada, and South Korea. Each of these "successes" reflect what is possible when you don't give up on potential even when the horizon has no guarantee and outcomes fail many times. Perseverance is the practice of practicing what moves us forward. The weak strengthening, the unproven proven. It's conviction in vision, faith, choice and actions in our human potential for adaptation toward the better possible tomorrow.
In yoga, that's the exercise of "tapas". Building dedication and discipline to what's important through repeated actions. Lifetimes of day-to-day effort eventually brings about the "impossible". It's a truth. Evolution is natural law. The insistence of creation to go on, the intention of vision to make something never before become. Einstein said imagination is more important than intelligence, and I would add that what you do daily is more impacting that what you do occasionally. Our tomorrow is shaped by what we're doing today. Commitment to the best possible eventually grows so strong the impossible imposter yields to what IS possible.
Yoga is a method to develop commitment to practicing what moves us forward to the greater health of the whole. Whole self, whole life, whole world. Like medicine, conditions dictate type of therapy and level of dose and frequency appropriate. The more serious, chronic, and risky the condition, the greater the dose and frequency of healthy practices to heal the dis-ease and disease.
It takes root in a "sankalpa", the Sanskrit word for a personal practice plan that identifies needs and goals and becomes an intention. Intention is only intention without a plan of action behind it. Goals become neglected and uncompleted when we don't sustain focus and put the power of repeated action toward them every week. Without the perseverance of repeating what is important to us, we quickly become distracted and undiscriminating and allow life to take us anywhere. Mindlessly we lose our strength and stability. If we don't choose our direction, life will make the choices for us based on what we mindlessly do.
So one essential sankalpa for ALL of us is to commit to practicing the "tapas" of taking actions that align and commit us to what we've identified as important. It's the muscle stretching human nature to what's good and right and healthy. A healthy symptom of "tapas" is motivation and devotion to our sankalpa that keeps us focused to do that which is often hard to do to move body, mind, soul, and life toward a better direction and potential. It requires developing our tolerance to persevere without immediate success or reward, indeed to persevere when we risk, suffer, fail, or our ideals are dismissed as impossible and our practice discouraged as ineffective.
We have to slow down to get clear and feel what is really essential to practice, and then repeat and repeat and repeat, regardless of certainty.
"Tapas" in Sanskrit translates to one's discipline and zeal for practicing for the strength that practicing empowers. The same word in Spanish means "small bites". For indeed, it is the "small bites", the ingredients in the details, one step following the next, that leads to the best meal, the best life. The practice of serving small actions that build upon the last, integrated over time as a lifestyle, until a wholly better "us" emerges from the potential we always possessed within us. Become the change you dream....