Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Process over Product

"Non-Goal Orientation" is a phrase a dear friend of mine began using around this time 3 years ago, and it speaks to the reality of "process."

In writing this, I begin to think of all the times I have heard others and myself say something out of comparison, or rejection of the current state of things. We reject our current mentality because we desire a different one. We reject our physical health because we desire something we have seen elsewhere. We reject our circumstances because we want what someone else has. We are constantly looking outside. It is a difficult balance, to remain intact with the environment, with others who inhabit it and also move from a place of solidity at the center of ourselves.

To be goal-oriented is effective and helpful under many circumstances, like meeting deadlines and creating new habits of behavior. However, in regard to something like spirituality [the experience of self-realization], the process is the goal.

Alert: yogic paradox!

To "be good" at yoga is not to eat "healthier," , it is not to be able to touch your toes. Yes, these are reliable effects of the practice, but they are not the goal. You can even have goals (or intentions) within your yoga practice, like, "Today I will notice my wrist alignment in every vinyasa I take." But, if your entire orientation is toward wrist alignment, many other effects of the practice will go unnoticed.

The word 'yoga' has been translated to mean"to yoke," as in, "to join together." It is a verb and thus an active process and it suggests that there are separations that come together as an effect of it.

Last week, I had the luxury of taking a class from a colleague and student of Bryan Kest, who is one of the most well-known yoga teachers in the USA. Kest was one of the first [known] American students of Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga Yoga, and studied with him in Mysore, India when he was just 21 years old. I am grateful to live in Los Angeles, this hub of the yogic mainstream. Kest says this about practicing yoga,

"...Not craving and clinging, but accepting who we are and where we are at, instead of rejecting where we are at in a constant pursuit to get somewhere. Most people bring their craving and clinging mentality into the yoga class, and then the practice is polluted. In yoga class and maybe in life, let the practice be, "I am not trying to get anywhere, I am trying to make it OK to be where I am at" because I love myself and value my process!!"

What will shift in your practice if you enter into it with a non-goal orientation? Can you replace this compulsion to "cling" with a curious mind, with an alert attention to process?

Cheers and happy practicing!

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