Last night in my yoga teacher training class we started diving into the Yoga Sutras. The Yoga Sutras are one of the primary texts for studying yoga philosophy. Someone jokingly referred to the sutras as the original self help book. There is some truth in that statement. Our teachers kept saying, "here are 195 sutras to help change your life."
We talked about so many different sutras and I have a lot of digesting to do. Each sutra is short and can be understood on a variety of levels. Seriously...I'm kind of on information overload. To help curtail that, I want set a weekly intention based on something we learned in class. Just something little. So this week, I'm focusing on discernment.
It was said last night that "freedom is the ability to choose." Whatever moment we're in, we use our discernment to choose between suffering and joy. Through yoga, we become conscious of our patterns or samskaras and from there, we can question whether these patterns work for us. Just being aware of our habits is a huge step but I love that simple awareness can help us make better choices. We're making the unconscious conscious.
These samskaras can be simple or complex. I crave sugar. I eat too many cookies. Then I have an upset stomach. So I notice the upset stomach, notice the pattern, and bring that awareness into my next sugar craving. Sometimes it takes a lot of suffering to realize you should just walk away from the Girl Scout cookies (I speak from a lot of experience here). I'm feeling stressed out so I zone out in front of the TV. I'm in a hurry so I get snippy with my kids. I am at a bar so I drink a bunch of beer. I mean, fill in whatever you want here. It can be anything.
So then we ask ourselves, is this pattern working or not working? How do we break the patterns that aren't working for us?
A few more examples of discernment from this week:
Something as simple choosing not to buy the $20 skirt is discernment. It may not seem like a big deal but deep down, it's breaking up a pattern that doesn't bring joy. The pattern is shopping without thinking, it's listening to marketing rather than listening to my mind.
Here's another example. On Wednesdays for my class, Donovan needs to be home to take care of the girls. My parents invited him and the girls over for dinner and we had some miscommunication on where we were meeting to switch cars. When we discovered this, I was at my parents house and he was at our house. I started to feel anxious because I might be late. While I waited for him, I took some deep breaths. When he got there, we swapped keys, and I was on my way. I didn't allow the anxiety to create tension in our exchange (although, admittedly, in the moment, I wanted to). A few minutes later, I realized I wasn't going to be late after all and felt good about the fact that I hadn't blamed the miscommunication on him. Honestly, it wasn't his fault. And it wasn't mine. I was just feeling stressed because I don't like being late.
They're such little things. I get it. But in each of those moments, I made conscious decisions. I used discernment. I can think of a handful of ways I've already employed this today - some good decisions and some not so good (please, someone come remove the cookies from my house?)
Not only is yoga the connection between breath, mind, and body....it's not just the physical practice....it's not just figuring out the fluctuations of the mind...it's not just controlling the senses....it's also having the freedom to choose in whatever moment you're in.
Isn't that a seriously beautiful thing?