Monday, November 12, 2007

Is Your Practice From Love or Fear?

In my last post, I discussed the difference between motivation (coming from fear) and inspiration (coming from love). When you are doing something with motivation, you are doing it because you are afraid something else will happen if you don’t do it. When you are doing it from inspiration, you are doing it because you are excited about what will happen when you do it. Well, when I learned the difference between the two, I realized my yoga practice was coming from fear. How is that possible, you say? Read on. The genesis of my yoga practice came from all my years of exercising and *eating right* and all the self-discipline that engenders. Goodness! If I went one day without exercise I might get fat or feel depressed or who knows what terrible thing could happen! When I began yoga in earnest, I just transferred all my discipline from exercise to yoga. I think I just didn’ I still loved my yoga practice and thoroughly enjoyed how great I felt throughout it and after, but deep down I knew that I was doing it because I feared what would happen if I did not.

Because my practice was based in fear, it was keeping me from growing. In fact, at that time, I realized my entire personal practice, all the things I was doing in my life for “my own good” were also from fear. If I was going to grow spiritually, my life needed a foundation of love. That was also the time I really got on a deep level that any external control I tried to exert was also from fear and if I was going to release fear in my life, I needed to let go of control. The only way I knew how was to stop doing everything that came from control — my practice. I stopped exercising, doing yoga, meditating, journaling, and watching my food intake. It took me awhile to miss anything. Initially I just felt relief from the time pressure. I had free time and no shoulds for probably the first time in my life. It was incredibly liberating! Then I went through a period of judgment and self-criticism all around the guilt of not doing my practice. I just sat through it and did nothing. I cannot remember how long that stage lasted. I know it was a couple of weeks or so, though. Then I felt done. I was ready to begin inviting things back into my life. I was inspired to take my practice to new places. I only brought in one thing at a time and didn’t do it if the old pattern showed up. I would only do it if it came from an inspired place. Any will power needed and it wasn’t what I wanted for that day.

How did I know it was time? Not sure...I just knew I was ready to pump up my practice and take it to the next level.


Total Health Yoga - Kris said...

This is a GREAT post!! I can relate to what you have to say on so many levels. My life is in flux right now (when isn't it?) and I feel that taking time away from the usual is what I need to do. Being a teacher of Yoga, did you find it difficult to stop your own pratice? That's one of my struggles--how can I stop and still fill my commitments to show up at each class.

Laura said...

Ohmygoodness, yes!! Actually, I would call it more incredible self-judgment. How could I call myself a teacher and not have an asana practice?

Well, it was time for me to practice what I teach. I have always emphasized that the beauty of yoga is its incredible depth -- it is so much more than the physical poses. In fact, the physical poses are merely one aspect of the eight limbs. Just because you aren't doing anything physical, doesn't mean you aren't practicing yoga.

What I realized was having my practice based in fear was not complying with several of the yama/niyamas (the moral precepts of yoga), mainly ahimsa or nonviolence. In order to feel santosha (contentment), I needed to be in a place of love. So, in fact, I was still practicing yoga by learning how to bring nonviolence and contentment into my practice.