So it’s midway through week 4 of my 40 days yoga practice, and I’ve been thinking quite a bit about a couple of my biggest personal
flaws challenges in my life throughout the last month. Balance and Patience. Most people struggle with these principles, at least to some extent. We live in a world of gratuitous instant gratification. We get what we want, when we want it, and as much of it as we want. If we want something, we make it (sometimes by force) happen. It’s abnormal to sit back and let our path unfold in front of us. It’s lazy. It’s unambitious. We decide the path our life is going to take or what we are going to do right now, and we pursue it fervently until we attain it. We often suffer and struggle in the process, forcing it (whatever IT is) to happen the way we envision. Now, don’t interpret this as a acceptance of lazy passivity. I’m not saying we should just crack a beer and sit on our couch waiting for the dreams and the visions we have for our life to manifest. (Though I do love beer, and I do love sitting on my couch.)
I believe we must find a balance between the two, passivity and action, in order to reach our full potential in this life. We must learn how to balance and to be patient.
Let me first express that I am not a huge fan of the word “passivity” because I feel that “passiveness” has a negative connotation to it, but for clarity’s sake, passivity is defined as: “accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.”
So in other words, balancing passivity and [re]activity means receiving what happens in this life with grace; meeting resistance and adversity with an equanimous perspective, an open mind, and an adaptable spirit. This is an invaluable skill, and is only attainable through practice.
I’m beginning to learn that this skill of balance manifests only when you actively practice patience. If we practice waiting patiently, letting our grasp loosen a little, practice relaxing, practice taking a step backward, we get out of our own way, and the energy and path of our life are allowed to flow as the universe or the God (or whatever you believe) intends it to.
We all have a purpose in this life. When we try to design our life and lay our own path, we sometimes lose touch with ourselves and never realize our purpose. We get wrapped up in the ideals of our culture and societal expectations, and stop listening to our hearts. We think the only way to be happy and successful in this life is to follow the route to some high paying job or to dive into a marriage or to live a flashy life. For some people, this may indeed be their purpose. I think the only way to truly know, though, is to put aside all of these ideas of what our life should look like, and instead diligently pursue the things we love with patience for the outcome.
I said diligently, with patience. Actively invest yourself into the things you are passionate about, but don’t become so wholly consumed that you lose sight of the big picture, of the balance. We are multi-dimensional creatures. We will never be entirely fulfilled by one thing (be it a relationship, a hobby, a career, a goal, etc.) When we walk toward the things we truly love or passionately desire (instead of the things we think we are supposed to love and desire), the universe has a way of manifesting the optimum path in front of us. Walking (not running or dragging or pushing) is diligent patience. It is a dynamic and adaptable action; determined but receptive and flexible, allowing time and space for balance and adaptation.
I’m learning these concepts daily on my mat, during my yoga practice. In yoga, in any given asana, you must first be patient with yourself, accepting wherever your body is at that particular moment in your practice. If you force yourself too deeply into a pose, you will not be able to find balance and peace. Some days you are able to go deeper and some days you revert. Just like in life, we must be adaptable to taking steps backwards at times. If you can resolve to be patient, to challenge yourself without taking it too far, balance will naturally occur, eventually resulting in growth in your practice. The cycle then continues.
You can apply these principles to anything in life. I personally struggle with patience and balance in most avenues in my life. I am a forcer. I’m impatient. I’m obsessive. I’ve seen these qualities manifest particularly in my fitness pursuit (CrossFit, running, yoga) and in my romantic relationships, but if I am not careful, I am sure to deal with it elsewhere. I get an idea in my head of where I want to be or what I want to do, and I become obsessive about it to the point that it consumes me and eventually burns out. This results in a total loss sometimes, whereas if I would just relax my hold and enjoy the ride, I might not experience so much frustration and failure. We can not force things to happen a certain way, especially if we want to maintain our passion for them along the way. We have to be open to alternative outcomes. Just like I cannot force my body to go deeper into a yoga pose without potentially injuring myself, I also cannot rush the path of a successful career or force someone to love me or hasten the journey of becoming an elite athlete or immediately possess the perfect body. If it is something that I love or truly want, and I patiently allow the journey to unfold in front of me, it will. We can have ideas of what we would like our future to look like (goals), but if we are not actively engaged in being present and patient with the road we are on today, we will probably trip over all the roadblocks and detours along the way, and worse yet-may never reach our destination.