A question that I often receive is, "How long does it take to….?"
Time. It takes time! 90% of success is showing up. For the most part the main thing you have to do is show up...again and again. Month after month...year after year.
Put yourself in an environment with others that are doing/have done the thing that you want to learn...with people that are better at it than you...and you'll get it. If you're showing up consistently, long term, earnestly working hard, asking questions, paying attention to instruction and demonstration, and applying details...you'll develop a strong and long lasting practice.
It won't happen in two weeks, or two months...you have to be patient and commit yourself...the years know things that the days and weeks will never know.
All of this patience, persistencnsistency, commitment and hard work is where the growth and transformation happens, not so much in the attainment of a/the goal. Become the person who doesn't quit and then by example, and with humility, is now the one who models for others what it takes.
At first it’s nothing. So say at first, you have no discipline. And you are told you need to be disciplined in a certain area to achieve a certain aim. But you are not a disciplined person so to speak…you have none. Like I said, at first it’s nothing. It means nothing. Hollow words.
Then comes a thought like, “I want to be a serious writer…I want to write books.” The thought is great but action then needs to be taken. Go to the desk, sit down and write. Now again…that’s nothing…that is not discipline.
The next day comes…go to the desk, sit down and write. Still it’s not much…you’re not a writer…you’re not disciplined. Do it again the next day. Do it again on the day that you’d rather do anything but write. Keep doing it day after day, even when some days you write absolute shit.
Keep doing. Keep going. Six days a week at 4:00pm you go to your desk, sit down and write. After some weeks, you’ve become consistent and most days you look forward to it, but it’s the days you don’t feel like writing that are most important to see it through…just write something…anything!
Now something has changed…when friends call and want to go out at 4:00pm, you say, “No, I’m busy at that time, maybe later?”
Months have gone by, they turn into years, you’ve written hundreds to thousands of pages. You are now a writer. You now have discipline. You are disciplined. You have experienced what it takes…how it works, and now you can do it again and again in any area of your life.
Discipline is not something that you start with…not a gift that some have and some don’t…it’s something we create and built by our choices made. Discipline is a patient and persistent process, like strengthening a muscle by lifting weight. It is also developing the strength of saying no to the things we like, so that we can focus intently on what we love.
A student asked, "Is it okay if I put my hands on the floor during Warrior III if I'm struggling?"
If an assist like dropping the hands is needed, then absolutely! Set the hands down. One huge thing that we're working on in class is being able to adapt to the demands of the moment. Trying to not be attached to always having a certain way of doing things. For example... I've just had you go thru a very difficult combination of postures and movements and you've become winded and now you're in boat pose...and I say, "If you've lost your breath catch it here."
Wait what!? In boat pose? That's right. Perhaps your boat is usually tip top...looks like a perfect V...yoga journal cover stuff. Can you adapt the posture, perhaps bending the knees making it a little easier so that you can catch your breath? This requires removing ego from the action. Having and/or developing humility and confidence...not being concerned with what you look like or what others in the room might think. Developing the ability and wisdom to know when to soldier on and when to surrender/rest.
Watch out though...ego is tricky...you may start adapting postures regularly so that is appears to others and/or your self that you're more enlightened. Or... perhaps you're just being lazy, constantly taking breaks when things get difficult. Or both! Either way, one should be on the look out for sloth, false humility, and/or virtue signaling in their yoga/asana practice as well as their daily lives (how we practice yogasana is how we live). Keep in mind that the other end of the spectrum from sloth or laziness...always pushing through practice super hard with the mind in a fight mode, or proving one's worth mode, or proving one's the better mode, with labored short breathing and an agitated mind has its poisons as well (I'll save that for a separate post). Fighting the good fight...trying to find some balance between chaos and order is a constant work in progress.
Some great questions to ask ourselves to evaluate our actions (not just when practicing asana) are... What am I doing and why? What am I not doing and why? Be brutally honest with the answers. And it may not always be the first answer that comes up that is the root... it may be necessary to question further and dig a little deeper to get to the bottom... to get to the truth. If the answer(s) prove to be a little less than admirable, we can begin to make changes. There is always something to improve on, to make better. Making small changes for the good day after day, month after month and year after year has the power to completely transform us after just a few years of diligent practice.
Little by little, a steady drip of water will hollow out stone. Michelangelo knew that the statue of David was in the block of marble, he just needed to remove what wasn't essential to the end result.
Carl Jung said, "Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens." Sorting yourself out. This is Yoga (Union) practice... asana is just a tool to help us do the work
I'll leave you with something to chew on. When you say you do Yoga...ask yourself, is it true? Do I really?
Thanks for reading.