Obligation or Alignment?
Hello fellow yogis - Happy Autumn! Here at the Alexander abode we are fumbling our way through finding new back to school routines that work in addition to preparing for the launch of our home yoga center.
In the midst of so much to juggle, I’ve had a few holy breakdowns which are always an invitation to pause and wonder: how did I get here? and what needs shifting?
Fall invites me to shift from all the go-go-go-ing of summer into a new way of being and is the perfect time to practice svhadyaya (or self study): to follow the trees’ lead and consciously let go of what no longer feels useful in order to use my energy skillfully (brahmacharya).
Truthfully, I’m jealous of trees who don’t have to do the hard work of discerning what has to go and what gets to stay – I’m amazed by how they JUST KNOW and keep doing what feels natural to them without the mental exhaustion of over-analyzing.
Unlike other beings, God has given humans the great gift (and responsibility) of freewill: the ability to choose our thoughts, words and actions which - whether we like it or not - make a real impact on our lives and the lives of those around us.
There’s something both empowering and scary as hell about having this grown up realization that we actually do have choice - that life is actually a slushy gray mixture of both fate and freewill.
That’s probably why the Jewish people light a candle every sabbath asking God for both lovingkindness AND wise discernment. Maybe my daily prayer of dear God, please don’t let me eff things up is more universal than I once thought?
While I used to run from death and the letting go process, all spiritual traditions invite us to embrace it as a part of how the Soul evolves while in human form. Tibetan Buddhists, in fact, meditate on death daily as a way of keeping them alert, aware, and living in a state of presence and appreciation.
Accepting and embracing small deaths (e.g. my younger, firmer body, old career hats, friendships, and personality traits) seems to be preparing me for the ultimate and inevitable reality of death that awaits us all.
If you’re interested in living a yogic life, you might pause and recalibrate this season, taking time to ask yourself:
Making choices that serve and benefit your health is actually good for all of us. After all, the healthy, steady tree eventually bears the most fruit.
Life is actually quite simple when we slow down and pay attention and remember that we have choice (which is what the brain research suggests that yoga does for us).
When faced with decisions of what to do (or not to do), my practice these days is to pause and ask myself: is my *yes* coming from obligation or alignment? and go from there.
I hope you are finding some calm amidst the changing of seasons and can give yourself permission to continue to follow what feels alive for you.
With great respect and love,
Yoga Teacher and Student, Speaker, Writer, Mother, Wife, Friend, Daughter, Sister, Human