I've felt frustrated and confused about my path, about what I should be doing. I've felt like I was working hard and I had a destination in mind, but my wheels were spinning and landing me nowehere.
On Friday night I went to kirtan, a devotional chanting. This kirtan was hosted by a Hare Krishna group in the city and we chanted Hare Krisha's mantra for 2 full hours. At first I was judging the melody, the percussion, the volume...all of it. I couldnt' get my voice to harmonize with the sounds. My back ached. I just wanted it to jive the way I had anticipated it. I kept singing though and by the end of the evening I felt connected to the group and the mantra's groove. I had finally stopped judging it and just let it be.
Saturday morning I went to teach my Sunrise Vinyasa class at The Yoga Garden and one of the regular walked in totally stressed out. "I think my car battery is going to be dead when I go out to start my car...I should just leave now." After some discussion about jumper cables and car troubles, we agreed that she should stay for the class. The car issues would be there after class and waiting an hour certainly wouldn't make them any worse.
That class was dedicated to being present and allowing the troubles of the world - money troubles, what to cook for dinner, pesky coworkers - to just sit aside while we had our one hour practice. We weren't ignoring the issues, but we were bringing ourselves to the task at hand. There is no other way to move forward other than step by step, so why drive ourselves mad trying to leap ahead?
The very first line of the Yoga Sutras is Atha Yoganusasanam, roughly translated as now we begin the practice of yoga.
Atha implies the beginning of an auspicious undertaking, something requiring commitment from one moment to the next, on and on. In studying the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, we are accepting the teaching from a spiritual master who is saying, "Now you are ready."
So what do all these stories have to do with eachother? I'd been so wrapped up in the hundreds of things I could worry about, all the little annoyances, all the ways I could be mistepping along my path, that I had completely forgotten what my path was all about. I was striving so fiercely that I had run into a brick wall and was trying to force my way through without looking up to see where I was.
I'm on a constant journey towards freedom, love, and inner peace. However, I had become so wrapped up in the end goal that I wasn't even playing the game anymore, which in turn was causing my systems to misfire as they tried to warn me I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Kirtan taught me to let go of the things I can't control; I needed to move with the flow rather than judging it and trying to control it. After all, a river flows where it's going to flow - there's nothing I can do about that and I'll just exhaust myself trying to steer it differently. The Hare Krishnas taught me that just by keeping my goals close to my heart and that by acting out of love for my divine intention, I was innately on my path and closer to the Divine Self. My student's willingness to leave her car troubles outside and set her intentions on the present moment reminded me that we have the choice to live in the now every single moment. (Her car ended up starting :] ). The future and all it brings will just have to wait.
There is no need to stress about the future or about what we have minimal control over. We can work towards an outcome, in fact it's important to set an intention in that sense, but move along acting out of love rather than striving. Whenever you catch yourself judging the situation you are in, take a breath and come back to right NOW. It's really the only moment that matters. The future hasn't happened yet and if you spend your present trying to live in it, you'll be met with anxiety and disappointment.
Stay steady on your path. Take it step by step. Remember that each step starts now, and be ready to commit now. and now. and now.