Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Surveying the Terrain

"To win a battle, a general surveys the terrain and the enemy and plans counter-measures. In a similar way the Yogi plans the conquest of the Self."
-B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga, 33rd paragraph of the Introduction.

For the next nine paragraphs of the Introduction, we will be surveying "the enemy". This enemy is the group of distractions and obstacles that lead us away from, or block us from Yoga.

I do think that it's good to look at the dark side of a light-filled practice. Let's fearlessly consider what we might be up against. It might be empowering to look at the potential dangers we could encounter along the way. It also offers respect for the practice when we open ourselves up to see these things.

I recently read about someone considering the benefit of positive thinking. And I think that it is good to maintain a positive attitude, but not at the expense of seeing things clearly. I was raised by a positive thinker. I think I might have some of those genes. But there are times to be real and to hear things without pasting a hopeful or desperate smile on the moment. Try to just listen. Try to just perceive, without controlling or changing anything. And then later, when there is understanding, plan your move and do it. Who is perfect? Who does not have challenges in life and on the yoga mat? The person who pretends perfection creates more pain, repression and shame rather than a more perfect world. Who wants to be perfect, anyway?

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