Strong body. Strong mind. It's the same thing. Whether we'd like to build the strength to stand our ground, create new opportunities, build more meaningful relationships, lose weight, or be a kinder person, building strength starts with a desire.
Science is catching up now in its ability to explain awareness. While research continues to grapple with the mechanics, awareness has long been something we already see when we're paying attention. We experience awareness through flashes of intuition and regular practice. The more you practice the longer the flashes, until eventually you begin to string them together into an awakened state of living in the moment.
Physical yoga, specifically when practiced as a moving meditation with focus and care, is a science experiment for your life. When we harness the ability to focus the mind on something other than our racing thoughts, how things are now and how things can be for us are revealed. Ever seen the iridescent dotted lines that connect all things? They are as present as the ground we walk on, but we choose to see what we want to see.
Everyone has experienced this at some point. Sometimes we experience this in real time streaming. Sometimes we shut it down when it happens, because we are so afraid that what we see, if we actually listen and pay attention, is too different from where we are right now. It could radically change everything we know, hold on to, and are terrified of losing.
In the spirit of reflection with compassion (a yogic method I've come up with for analysis),
10 steps to superhero strength in 2010.
May you have a prosperous, awakened, and happy new year.
1. Stop holding yourself back. You are the only thing holding you back from happiness. You have the ability to change your life radically for better or worse.
2. Stand strong. If you are weak in the body stand your ground with compassion and focus. Stay true to yourself and life will open up.
3. Let go of what you don't need. If you are inflexible in the body look at what you are holding onto unnecessarily in your life. Release tension and life will open up.
4. The goal is just a blip. When you master your mind you'll realize the pose (your goal) doesn't matter. Getting fixated on a goal closes our minds to all other possibilities of surpassing that small blip (the goal). Dropping the fixation lets us move through the world with greater ease, and gives us a better capacity to help others. Having goals can be useful, but don't lose sight of how great you are and how much you can help yourself and others right now.
5. Inside and outside are the same. When you realize the pose doesn't matter you'll be able to do all the poses with ease. This goes for physical yoga class and life. What is going on with you on the inside, your psychological state, is how you are on the outside. It's all the same pose. It's all the same goal. Don't make it so hard on yourself.
6. Use language effectively. We can hold too tightly to our ideas of how things should be, and resist living authentically because of our fears. When we practice saying what we mean instead of saying what we think we should, things open up.
7. Practice. Whether it's yoga, meditation, speaking your mind, or living consciously, it's all the same thing. Practice living your life. You're living it.
8. Have patience. We can build many layers and walls to protect ourselves from experiencing the beauty of life, and sharing our gifts for the greater good of the world. Gaining the trust and confidence to undo all that hard work takes time. It takes your whole life. You're never done. There are no spiritual experiences. Each moment is spiritual. Every moment is practice. Look around.
9. Watch yourself. You are your own science experiment on how much you can cultivate your potential in this life. We need to set intentions, act, and also observe. Watch, look, and listen. The secrets are in the silence.
10. Why so serious? When we start to piece together the inter-workings of the universe (not mystical, it's all right there inside us), we begin seeing where we carry around more seriousness than is useful. When we cling to outcomes, results, and people, we build more walls, stress, and disease. Put in the effort with good intentions, but let go of the results. When we let go of the results and enjoy life, we allow the beauty and mystery this world has in store for us to present itself. Even where life is difficult, imposing more weight on top things only adds more weight. We navigate through both tough and good times the best when we stay simply right with it, without layering on past fears or future expectations.
Let life give you a present this year. Listen.
Here is a strength-building physical practice that creates endurance and balance. Enjoy.