Sunday, June 28, 2009

125/178 part 2 -- Clearing the clutter

The day 177 meditation begins with another quote from a student. She talks mostly about yoga helping to find herself. I don't disagree with this kind of talk, but for the most part I don't think its that helpful. I read teacher training blogs all the time where people talk about how much they have learned about themselves at training. And I believe them. But for some reason, they never say exactly what sorts of things they have learned about themselves.

Actually, I think there's a very good reason for this. Largely, I think yoga helps people to stop defining themselves by some set of expectations, by how they would like to be perceived by others, for example. In place of these external definitions, there comes a sense of contentment and confidence. The student expresses this point quite well: "Yoga clears the clutter." For whatever reason, asana practice has helped me be clearer about priorities, and how unimportant are so many little worrisome things. I think the clearing of clutter goes hand in hand with the increased contentment and confidence I mentioned before.

And I think that Gates is right that this all stems from being honest, from dropping pretense. By practicing honesty on the mat, we come to learn that that honesty is enough, and also that it works. Not only that, it works better than either pushing too hard, or lying to ourselves that we won't ever be able to do anything. Since honesty on the mat does work, it tends to breed confidence and a sense of satisfaction. And that confidence, that sense of clarity, clears the clutter. Then, since we find that being honest with ourselves works so well on the mat, it becomes tempting to try the same experiment off the mat. And the results there can be at least as astonishing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post, Duffy. I like that: "Yoga clears the clutter."

It took me at least a full year of practicing Bikram consistently before I felt as though I was taking what I learned on the mat and applying those lessons to my life off the mat. But, when this does happen, when we do begin to see our reflection elsewhere, and not just in those sweat-streaked studio mirrors---everything changes. If, of course, we're open to it.