There are things in my practice and my life that I love because they come naturally. Then there are things that I love because they did not come naturally to me and I’ve had to work hard at them.
Ashtanga yoga is powerful because it's humbling. It asks the strong to become flexible, the weak to become strong, the bored to become inspired, the excited to relax. It is the perfect balance of yin and yang, and the equalization of the two opposing forces of sun and moon.
Once that balance is achieved, the mind can remain in dynamic harmony and walk the thin line between extremes. Yoga teaches you how to find this balance within yourself, so that no matter what happens, you always maintain your peaceful, strong center.
Balance is often a dynamic state of flux; it is rarely a static place of absolute stillness.~Kino MacGregor
One of the hardest and most important lessons on the road to balance is how to surrender. There is so little we control. Thinking that we can force, rush, push, whack, or bust things through our will is just ego and often takes us far out of balance.
Even when we think we’re acting with our best intentions, our subconscious patterning often blocks us from true freedom. Subconscious patterns are called the samskaras, and they run on auto-pilot generated from reactions to past experience.
They create future expectation and then color the lens of perception as well as draw you into a cycle of repetitive behavior. Most samskaras are built on attachment to pleasure and aversion from pain. Yoga seeks to neutralize the samskaras by training your mind to remain equanimous and centered.
The Search for Love as the Ultimate Samskara
Love and the yearning for love is one the deepest samskaras that most people carry. We are all in search of love, but so often we look in the wrong places. It is easy to conflate love with pleasure and easy to get confused about lasting happiness.
When we finally do experience even a little bit of love, we take it for granted, have no idea how to cherish it, run away when it gets difficult, or subconsciously sabotage it.
I can't count how many mistakes I've made in my life on the path of love. Definitely more times than I've fallen out of a Handstand, and that took me five years of falling before I found my balance.
Accepting That Nothing Is Under Our Control
I’ve spent so many years trying so hard to work everything out, plan every detail, make the perfect life. But life isn't perfect, and no matter how hard you try not to, you will stumble and fall.
When you do find yourself face down in the mess you’ve created, all that’s left to do is trust, surrender, and be carried by the wings of faith. The only real work that you can do is practice keeping the mind still by dropping your attention inwards. Remain equanimous and steadily root down into your center.
Emotions, thoughts, and all experience are nothing more than clouds passing through the vast expanse of the sky-like nature of mind. No matter how brilliant the display, don't get drawn into their cycle.
If you feel overwhelmed by thoughts or emotions, know that you are not your thoughts or any experience; your true nature is eternal, changeless, and infinite. Though you may go through intense and trying times, have no fear, for your heart always remains pure at its deepest level.
The only real path to balance is through surrender. Close your eyes, open your heart, and trust even if the path ahead is only dimly lit.
Image Credit: Kino MacGregor