Monday, January 18, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect

"This is nothing. Right now we are just practicing..." --Bajante Sujatha, Buddhist monk, Blue Lotus Temple.

I attended another installment of the meditation class at Lazy Dog Studio in nearby Roscoe. I hope to make it every month; while I can get myself into a comfortable seated position and hold it for a half a hour, I can barely keep my mind focused for five minutes. Definitely something I need to work on.

I was frustrated this week because, once we began the meditation, I was all over the place. I may have even fallen asleep a few times, because my head tipped forward violently in that way it used to during a boring university lecture. Shades of History of the Renaissance. I tried to exude loving-kindness, but I was off my mindfulness game. However, that frustration dissolved during the discussion after.

Sujatha was talking about how you choose whether to be happy or unhappy about a situation you find yourself in. You can get mad that your airline gate has been changed three times (holiday travel theme), or you can be grateful for a bit of exercise. You have to wait and wander no matter what, but you control your reaction to the disorganization. He reminded us that the most important thing about meditation was being able to apply your mindfulness to the outside world--in class there is nothing to make you angry and you can focus your thoughts without distraction, it's outside the studio where it is really work.

I thought that had a nice to parallel to yoga. Of course, we love the stretch and the strengthening of class, but it is all just "practice" for our real lives. Yamas and Niyamas and all that. Your real yoga is how you live your life and let that stress relief and centering carry over into the times when you'd rather be tense and grouchy. Drop those shoulders. Take a deep breath.

So, I have to work on those fluctuations while meditating, but I feel pretty good about my ability to pull out the quiet mind when I need it. Just not in class...and, therefore, I have to practice.


Heather said...

I just blogged about a similar thing today. We can get angry at so much, OR we can be present with all of it. Your meditation practice has so much to teach you! Thanks for the wonderful post!


Kristin said...

Or rather like my current favorite saying: If you don't have time to practice yoga, practice yoga all the time.

La Gitane said...

I was going to leave a comment but it got so long, I think I'll turn it into a post (I'll link back to you!).

Just to say: thanks for this reminder that "Your real yoga is how you live your life." Namaste to that!

Bob Weisenberg said...

Nice blog, Brenda.

I personally find that just observing my emotions, or, as the Kripalu people like to say "witnessing" whatever is going on, whether in your head or outside, is more useful than "choosing to be happy or unhappy".

But I know this is just a personal preference, and in fact, the Yoga Sutra itself has both.

Bob Weisenberg

Eco Yogini said...

oh meditation- so hard!! i also need practice- you are so right- it's very very difficult outside of class. i keep getting moments of, oh yeah I should try to incorporate this in everyday life... and then I wonder if "in the moment" i really am.

perhaps while I was cleaning that studio (happily) was a moment of my "yoga" creeping into my life unconciously...

Bob Weisenberg said...


Yes, that's it. Right on. It starts when you almost unexpectedly finding pleasure in things that used to make you miserable or bored.

Follow that trail!

Bob Weisenberg

Brenda P. said...

H and LaG--I'll check you two out!

Bob: Oh, the Witness. My sister and I used to joke that our witnesses were big bullies, always scolding and deriding us. Quieting those voices is such hard work.

Kristin--love the quote!

EcoY: I think you have it exactly right. Those mind-less cleaning chores are a perfect moment for mind-ful-ness. I supposed that's the purpose of carefully tending a Zen garden or pouring a sand mandala. Purpose in everything!

Sarah said...

Great post...

Thank you for your words!


Claudia said...

Once after practice one of my yogini friends mentioned that she had heard that in Mother Theresa's ashram (or place, dont know if it was an ashram per say), the women had taken a "vow" to "be happy"... its like you say, we have a choice, we can decide to be present with what comes and remove the story around it...

Another teacher once also told me about the "practice makes perfect" that he had changed it to "practice makes permanent" and that was working out for him a lot better. It left me wondering and considering it so thought I would share

thanks for the post :)

Donna said...

Love the quote.
Also appreciate the "practice makes permanent" as I study active stretching I can only hope to become more flexible physically, emotionally & mentally.

We daily encourage our children to choose the life they want by deciding how they are going to react/approach each moment especially when things don't proceed as you had hoped, planned, expected.

Today I will clean my home with mindfulness witnessing the transformation from chaos to calm.