This week I dwell on the concept of practise - found in the very first Yoga Sutra, or yogic string of wisdom. Nothing is possible by merely philosophising about it. “Without practise nothing can be achieved”. -Sri Swami Satchidananda
I understand this as yes we can get a mental grasp of an idea or concept but it will remain a conceptualisation. Whereas when we do, in the now, we experience and have the opportunity of transformation, in the now and only in the now. People speak of enlightenment for example, looking up at sages and masters, wishing that one day they too will attain enlightenment. So they build their practise towards the goal of one day finding that blissful state. The problem here is not the practise in itself, the problem is that the practise and attainment of bliss is not focused on happening now - in this very moment. It is something projected into the future, which of course doesn’t exist. The possibility of bliss is only possible right now. This is the same with everything: it all happens in the now. This is what Eckhart Tolle has so clearly experienced and he is one of my big idols - I look at him as an example of someone who really “gets” it. And having seen him speaking live it was so clear how connected he is in his Heart.
I have a funny little story to tell. One of my dear friends who accompanied on a large part of my spiritual journey always said to me that I need a regular spiritual practise (this was many many years ago). I used to laugh at him and say that’s too “religious”, fanatic, I don’t need that! I dabled in all sorts of healing, philosophy, spirituality and whilst I was “practising” something of course I would feel more peaceful, together whereas when I wasn’t dabbling I would be all over the place with my emotions raging. Only when I found yoga did I naturally build a regular practise. It started with once a week, same day same time, then twice a week, same 2 days and times, until I built up a daily Hatha practise routine. I think you can see how my internal world started shifting. How the regular practise, the regular dedication, slowly changed how I felt and how I related to the world. This would have been impossible had I just thought about yoga and its ideas and practised occasionally.
The irony of my story is this: many years later after I qualified as a yoga teacher the same friend found interest in yoga. He used to call me and tell me all about it. So I asked, that’s great, where do you go for classes? And he replied that he doesn’t go to classes, he just reads about asana practise and watches some YouTube videos. I was amazed! I said but that’s not practising yoga - you need to physically do it to experience it. And he would say, no I get yoga by reading about it. And we would argue about this for a long time. Until one day he actually took a yoga class. And suddenly something shifted in him, he got it and went on to train as a yoga teacher himself!
When we do something and we do it regularly this is when the magic happens. A new way of being is reinforced. And this is what changes us. Until we practise, it is all a bunch of mere thoughts in our mind. Nothing more, nothing less.
I relate this to Heart practise as we all know that no matter how much we describe it, it is something to be experienced. Words create a conceptualisation yet they can’t give you the experience of inner peace, connectedness and more. And when we practise it regularly our experience just naturally happens and deepens. But that moment of divine bliss is always in the now. At any point but in the now. They say that everyone who has practised 5 mins of Heart meditation per day, every day, for 6 months feels something change within them. I can only validate this as it was my experience too. And after the 6 months, it keeps going, more change, more experience. The mind can’t grasp this properly. It’s like asking a robot to feel the warmth of his non existent blood. The robot could be programmed to conceptualise this, the notion of warm blood flowing through the body in their vessels. Yet it will always remain just that - it will never be experienced. Thinking about something keeps us in the confined Mind - space. Practising brings us into the infinite Heart - space