On being myself

Nine kinds of distractions come that are obstacles naturally encountered on the path, and are physical illness, tendency of the mind to not work efficiently, doubt or indecision, lack of attention to pursuing the means of samadhi, laziness in mind and body, failure to regulate the desire for worldly objects, incorrect assumptions or thinking, failing to attain stages of the practice, and instability in maintaining a level of practice once attained.
(vyadhi styana samshaya pramada alasya avirati bhranti-darshana alabdha-bhumikatva anavasthitatva chitta vikshepa te antarayah)

Yoga Sutra 1.30

 I’m halfway through spending a week with my family in Ann Arbor, MI. Man, has this place changed! Lots more young professionals here, which bring more yoga studios, high-end coffee shops, bistros, and shopping, and a LOT more loft apartments. I’m happy to see my hometown thrive, and also mourn a bit the loss of the grittier side of this town.

At my parents house, the little sapling that swayed in the front yard is now twice as tall as I am! Coming back to the place I grew up, I see how much I’ve changed too. I’ve overcome challenges, learned about myself and the world around me, and I keep learning about the person I want to be.

When I interact with my parents, it is obvious how much I’ve changed. I see their perspective with adult eyes: I can understand and discern opinions and beliefs of others from those of myself. I see that the way they see the world is not the way I see it. This led to me feeling frustrated and misunderstood, which is the topic of Yoga Sutra 1.30: distractions and obstacles that come up in life.

The obstacles listed in the sutra above are pretty broad, but at the heart there are two ideas: seeing clearly and practicing. These ideas are useful in yoga, and they’ve translated well to my life too. For example, the root of my frustrations this week with my parents became clear after a chat with my sister J and my partner M, meditation and asana practice (and that beer I had with dinner last night ;)). I need to express who I am, and I need to be heard. I now see that their lack of communication is their limitation but it doesn’t have to be mine.

There is a Hindu principle, abhyasa, that Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras, also prescribed to yogis. It means sustained practice. Each asana (pose) I do, each breath I take in meditation and pranayama, each obstacle or piece of joy I come across are all part of the practice.

Here’s to enjoying the day today and looking forward to a connected and grounded rest of the week!


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