Sunday, January 11, 2009

8/11 Practice and priorities

2:30 pm with Miranda

We set a new record today -- there were 57 people in class.  It was packed., with about 4-6 inches between mats.  In Full Locust, I nearly took the eye out of the guy to my right.  And it started out really cold, like 80 degrees, but did warm up.  And the cold wasn't so bad because the energy level in the room was so high.  Well, my flexibility was a bit off, especially in poses like Fixed Firm and Camel.  But other times when it's been so cold, its taken a mental toll.  Today, I felt fine and was able to adjust my practice to the conditions.

Today's passage has two big, and probably interrelated points.  First, practice is whatever we do with regularity, and without regard for what's happening externally.  Gates puts it in these bare turns, but then he says its a matter of priorities.  He talks about winos who manage to get liquor even though they are destitute.  And he says that yogis are people who have turned to a practice of spiritual growth.

I like this, but I think there's a difference between practice, in the sense he means, and purely habitual things or pastimes.  A practice, combined with the sense of priority, becomes a matter of devotion.   At the start, going to class was partially a matter of will (and guilt).  I forced myself to make it a priority.  At some point, devotion seems to have taken over, and making it a priority is no longer a question at all.

The interesting thing about this is that it now becomes very hard for me to think of ways to persuade others that they should also make it a priority.  I can tell them all about the benefits.  But if they say they don't have the time, all that means is that the benefits don't mean that much to them -- they aren't that high a priority.  In the end, the best I seem to be able to do is to tell them to try it and see for themselves.  And, where the talk should work and doesn't, the yoga often speaks for itself.

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