The most important relationship
Anyone who has devoted time, energy and effort to anything - be it a person, a sport, or cultivating a craft, knows that for something to grow some ingredients are essential. Time, practice, patience, and a showing-up are the elements needed for the recipe. Without these components, the recipe for success usually falls flat. All things we engage in can be seen as a 'relationship'. We have a relationship to our significant other, a relationship to our friends, a relationship to our parents and family, to our pets. But we rarely think of the relationship we have to inanimate things. Besides the living things we communicate with frequently, we have a relationship to our careers, academic life, and our beloved yoga practice. This relationship to your yoga or your self-care/therapy can also be seen as your relationship to yourself.
This relationship is one that not unlike all the others listed, needs the same love and care, the same time and effort put in, and the same amount of 'showing-up'. Without this one - which is the foundation of all others - one remains ungrounded, scattered, and always looking for someone else to please us. We look outside ourselves, searching endlessly for something that will alleviate the boredom, the loneliness, the lack of self-confidence. Why is it that we have created careers for ourselves that have been years in the making, we have friends whom we have known since we were kids, and parents and siblings we don't desert entirely even when they are less than amicable - yet, we desert the most important relationship - that which is with ourselves - so often. Our inner voices are often mean, uncaring, and inconsistent in the love it provides -- would a friend or a partner put up with that?
Nothing that you need will come from the outside. Patanjali says: Turning within means turning the senses within; trying to hear something within, see something within, and smell something within. All the scents are within us. All the beautiful music is within us. All art is inside. Why should we search, running after museums and gardens when every museum and garden is within us?
The slow-brew that is Yoga
Yoga is an ancient healing art, which is known to be a very 'slow brew'. Although one does feel amazing and clear after only just one yoga class, the benefits that come from a sustained practice of many hours are insurmountable. But we live in a fast-paced culture - we want our healing art that dates back to 300 be to heal us overnight. We look at the Internet for an hour and we believe we are an expert in any given topic we decide to get distracted with. We are doctors because we have web-MD, we are suddenly all filmmakers because we can make a film on our iphones. Modern life is fascinating in this way, but a true art or craft is never one that is instant, automatic, and without time devoted to it. We have become a nation of know-it-alls, which is hideous because no one likes a know-it-all.
Think of the making of you as one that is brewing slowly, and know that right now you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
Yoga practice has to be approached in the most ancient way - you show-up, you do it, you experience it. Recently I overheard a guy at a dinner talking about the benefits of yoga --- how it can change your perspective on life and help you transform. He emphatically described how it changes your whole life view, while calming you, and some other things that I cannot remember. Bottom line - he barely practices. He read that somewhere, or overheard someone saying so. We imagine things in our heads -- from clips we have seen on youtube or in a film. We then feel we ourselves have lived it. In an instant, we have done it and we know it - yet in reality, it is all in the head. I loathe this about society now. Ya know that expression, 10 years in the business is an overnight success? A decade of showing up and you are a master, an expert.
Yoga is the OPPOSITE, and you cannot know how it can change your outlook unless you get your ass on the mat with consistency. This ability to get to class in the first place - (remember 90% of everything in life is just showing up) - is already improving your relationship with yourself.
Noticing your inner dialogue and making conscious decisions to choose more useful thoughts, giving yourself quiet time AND play time, and learning how to use the word 'NO' are some ways we can preserve our precious energy ---the energy we so badly need to create, write, dance, sing, be there for others..
It is through Svadhyaya, or self-inquiry that we develop this commitment to ourselves. We realize that we are the creators of our realities and that without self-love within; we will not find that love on the outside.