What’s the most efficient way to get something done? Well, optimise. Simply get an honest analysis of present conditions, then look at what’s available and use it all fully, but never to breaking point because that would cause delay. We’d probably all agree that this formula – at least in principle – could be applied to any task. But, things can go wrong in the way that it’s applied.
Accept, Assess & Apply.
First of all, it can take a lot of courage to accept the situation as it is – especially if it’s something we really resist for some reason. For instance: right now, it’s very hard for the world to accept that the use of fossil fuels has to be dramatically cut, starting right now. The implications are so vast that the world can’t quite bring itself to get on with it, for lots of very valid reasons. Meanwhile, the problem we eventually have to deal with grows.
Secondly, it’s difficult to accurately assess available resources. In fact, it’s impossible until the scope of the problem is accepted. But even when this is known, it’s easy to over-or under-state resources. We can be very protective and on the other hand, very rash in the presence of adversity.
Finally, even if we assess a situation and available resources well, we can easily go too hard (or not hard enough) in applying our resources to reach our goal. People say, “the devil is in the detail” but really there’s no devil and no detail. There are just people trying their best, but sometimes quite on the wrong track.
Need An Answer? What’s The Question
How can we know:
- Where I am…
- What I’ve got…
- How I’m really doing…
moment by moment, so that I can continually adjust my direction and effort in working towards my goals?
Well, we all already do this – every time we pick up a glass without breaking it for example. It comes naturally to the animal inside all of us. But it doesn’t come so easily to the supercomputer in our heads. And that’s sad because that operating system really is very capable.
But it comes naturally to the animal, so let’s start there with the physical body. Yoga asana classes at Yogafurie in Bristol are an opportunity for us to explore and develop our movement capabilities. Instructors give body alignment and technique cues, and offer individual verbal and physical adjustments. Magic can also happen when we take our practice home, or especially if we embark on a Yoga and Hot Yoga teacher training program.
Eventually, the meaning of the word “asana” as “meditation seat” starts to become clear. Stillness arises in the body through repeated micro changes to stance and posture. The meditation “seat” of self-sustaining stability comes about through mindful movement. What felt like a difficult position previously is now easeful and strong.
Adjust & Align
As the body, so the mind. In this case, the “adjustments” and “alignment cues” are Yoga’s Yamas and Niyamas. These are lifestyle observances that position people for success in their practice. Different schools offer different sets of Yamas and Niyamas – all would work if applied consistently. And all would encourage balance in apparently conflicting aspects of human behaviour as the tools to achieve our goals.
Let’s start with the call to balance contentment with the desire for progress. Surely, these two are opposites? To have them both as lifestyle observances would appear to create a paradox.
Discontent Driving Change
Well, we all want to be content. It’s often our discontent with how things are that drives our efforts to change. But using discontent as a motivator has problems. The mind is not clear, because it’s discontented. It’s more likely that the problem has not been accurately assessed and/ or that the solution imagined won’t actually work. A discontented person is more likely to quit halfway, unless the discontent is so great that it creates nervous energy – and there’s only so long we can work on nervous energy before our health declines. Discontent conditions people for disappointment, not a success, because everything is coming from a place of pain. Yet, effort must be made to implement change. If not discontent, how are we supposed to find the energy?
The contented mind is more able to apply self-discipline. It’s more likely to imagine the right solution. Like the body settling into self-sustaining stability, the contented mind can focus and get on with the task in hand because it the best thing to do, not because of a desperate need for change due to discomfort. Yoga’s Yamas and Niyamas encourage us to balance energetic persistence (Tapas) with acceptance (Santosha). We learn to be happy with the way things are, and we are determined to make positive changes all the time. This is the best way to avoid burn-out.
Avoiding The Burn
Avoiding burnout is very important. We begin to see that honesty in fact underpins both effort and acceptance. Honesty allows us to say when we’re working too hard or in the wrong way, and when we could go faster or work smarter. And it’s important to be honest with ourselves and others – frank and open exchange of information enable progress. But there’s a balance to be struck here also. Any assessment of a situation needs to avoid bias. And we do have to be careful – it’s easily possible to state a number of truthful facts, but not be acting truthfully. Bias damages trust and that will demotivate people. Bias can also be used to whip up nervous energy. It can lead people to suspend their requirement for contentment and act out of anger or other pain, but as described above, this can’t ultimately succeed.
Yoga’s Yamas and Niyamas ask us to tell the truth (Satya) in a non-harming way (Ahimsa). Acknowledging the truth is the primary enabler of growth. But, it can be uncomfortable. Seeking this balance limits the discomfort to just the inevitable growing pains. When they don’t have to take it personally, people stay on track because they’re not lost in personal anguish. We can stay present to participate in the transformation.
Yoga is much more than simply the physical postures. If you are interested to explore all aspects of the practice a Yoga Teacher Training is an excellent way to roll up your sleeves and really dive in. Not only can it change the way you view the world, but also how you live your life. Yogafurie’s 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Academy launches January 22nd. If you’d like to arrange a chat with one of our teacher training staff, click here.