Yoga Sutra Verse of the Week YS 1.14  Practice
Friday, January 19, 2018 at 04:25PM
Dennis Young

# 1.14 This state of Yoga, or non-resistive freedom, becomes firmly established through regular and appropriate practice over a long period of time.

Practice is the heart of the development of yoga, or blended being: without deliberate, dedicated practice there is no release of resistance, no experience of non-resistive flow or freedom from suffering.

But what is this "practice?" It can take many forms, but no matter what form it takes, in essence, it is first and foremost a certain practice of deliberate and selective focused-awareness rooted in an context of preparation or readiness formed from listening and understanding the teachings.

The first aspect of this understanding is the necessity of being surrendered to the inevitability of the present moment with a willingness to engage with and welcome whatever experience may come next. This is abhyasa. We surrender to being in a life that is in many ways confusing and inexplicable and sometimes hurtful. We could actively resist being here, but all that would do is make things worse. We are here, and we are a part of things, like it or not. Opposing or resisting the flow of life with anxiety or irritation doesn't untie the knot of suffering, it draws it tighter. We could also submit, and adopt a stance of being sullenly resentful or mournfully self-pitying, but this suppression of upset is just another kind of resistance.

Non-resistance is being open, willing, ready to engage. It's a state of feeling a part of things, responsible, with a collaborative intent. It isn't passivity or resignation, nor is is a fake acceptance masking a deeper anxiety or resentment. Non-resistance is participatory, but in a non-adversarial way. It's pure willingness to discover, to take part, to learn and to add value to the present situation. (Content or context)

At first spontaneously arising, then later sustained and cultivated, practice begins as an the simple awareness that one has a choice as to how one would prefer to be about something. This awareness makes practice possible, but real practice begins when one deliberately chooses to redirect one's attention from stressful to unstressful, from restrictive to unbounded, from sorrow to joy. This simple act, repeated over and over through time, constitutes real practice.

This movement of attention derives it's strength and efficacy from the felt context in which it occurs, the understanding that grounds and stabilizes it within the person's mind and awareness. There must be a proper understanding of who is focusing, how this focusing is to be carried out, how it feels, and why it is necessary.Then there must be repeated practice of the movement of mind and awareness toward less stressful focal points and states. This must happen in formal practice like meditation, but also informally, in all the contexts of everyday life.

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