While reading Jack Kornfield's book, "A Path with Heart", I came across this wonderful paragraph that resonated immediately with me for it is not only something I have experienced for myself but something I witness repeatedly in the Yoga teaching world:
"Spiritual work requires sustained practice and commitment to look very deeply into ourselves and the world around us to discover what has created human suffering and what will free us from any manner of conflict. We must look at ourselves over and over again in order to learn to love, to discover what has kept our hearts closed, and what it means to allow our hearts to open. If we do a little of one kind of practice and a little of another, the work we have done in one often doesn't continue to build as we change to the next. It is as if we were to dig many shallow wells instead of one deep one. In continually moving from one approach to another, we are never forced to face our own boredom, impatience, and fears. We are never brought face to face with ourselves. So we need to choose a way of practice that is deep and ancient and connected with our hearts, and then make a commitment to follow it as long as it takes to transform ourselves".
It is something I have touched on before, this need for commitment to one way, to sit and deal with the pain, rather than flitting around from one way to another way, to another way, to another way, seeking happiness but never really getting to the depth of the matter so that transformation on that deeper level never really takes place and happiness is still this concept of being out there, if only we could find the right therapist, right Yoga class, right holistic treatment, right diet, you know all those things that we chop and change so easily.
Diet is a huge one. I have lost count of the number of times I hear people changing their diets, that this new diet is definitely the one for them, they lose a little bit of weight and then their ingrained habits start coming back again and their weight is back to where it was, or perhaps it a little heavier, and there is confusion about what they should be eating because nothing seems to work, and perhaps there is actually something wrong with them and with that depression sinks in, as one judges oneself for lack of willpower, lack of ability to stick to something, you know, that internal narrative that never ends.
At the end of the day we need to go deeper. We need to address our core beliefs in terms of our relationship to food. We need to understand the reason we make the food choices we do and be mindful, therefore, in doing so. Of course yoga helps this process enormously, not only by helping us to be more in touch with ourselves, but encouraging mindfulness and also helping to transform and heal the core beliefs so that we become that little more conscious of the choices we are making the reason for those choices.
But it can be tough. On a deeper level, beyond the physical practice itself, yoga encourages us to face ourselves truthfully, and sometimes that hurts. We don't always want to be reminded of who we really are. But essentially it is only by doing so that we can make long term changes and step a little closer to that concept of happiness. Inner happiness of course. Let us not forget that it is ALL about what is going on, on the inside. If you feel centred, whole, complete and happy on the inside then the chances are, your life (and experience of life) will be reflective of this on the outside too.
It is only by committing that we can ever hope to make the long lasting change that we may seek. Be that commitment to one diet, to one therapist, to one treatment, or simply to a regular yoga practice. And more often than not, that is where the issue lies, in committing in the first place for there are a zillion reasons to not do so - we are tired, busy, too much going on, need to do this or that to ourselves before we can begin. Of course this is all rubbish. Like anything in life it is about taking that first step and just getting on with it...and remembering to laugh, let us not forget that, it is after all a path with a heart:-)
And on that note I am going to take myself to the beach for a morning wake up swim in the sea before getting on my mat, sitting, and practicing being still for a little bit!!
With much love and gratitude.