by Octavio Salvado.
Practice is like gravity, it not only draws us closer to our center, it also arranges life magnetically so that the exact experiences we need in order to fulfill our spiritual reasons for being here, our Dharma, are drawn towards us.
There are ancient ways, secret ways largely lost to the world that use mathematics, geometry, times and dates to configure and systematically design a spiritual practice that personally aligns us to our Dharma, because behind the sheath of physicality exists a code, an entire world of frequencies dancing into being through their geometric and harmonic relationships. In other words, life can be calculated, because it is partly mathematical in nature. As a result, spiritual practices can be carefully cultured and tailor made so that the practitioner has the opportunity to ride these energetic currents and timelines into the spiritual depths of life typically not touched. However life is also poetic and unknowable, so there is more than one onramp to the Dharma Marga, our Life Path – the spiritual super highway connecting our mind, heart and action.
When I first felt the undeniable compulsion to teach yoga, and I knew that this was the path I would follow, alongside that knowing also came a sense of deep helplessness, because I had absolutely no idea where to begin or what to do. So I spoke to my teacher about it. His clear, wise words changed the course of my life. He said “Practice. Just practice.”
He told me not to worry about that whole ‘teaching’ story and just concentrate on my own practice. That in dedicating myself wholeheartedly, the right students and experiences would naturally be drawn towards me in just the right moment. He told me to become a gravitational force through my own self-efforts and then be patient, enjoy the space and use the time to cultivate a deep intimacy with my practices and plough the soil of my own heart to recover its deepest aspirations.
Then when I asked him ‘what’ I should practice he simply said, “Follow your joy”.
Mathematics and poetry. One part strategy, the other, ecstatic spontaneity. It’s been almost ten years since that conversation yet its still a powerful guiding force in my life. Practice, Practice and all is coming. Potent words from the late, great master, Pattabhi Jois. What practice? Simple. The one that shines the heart and sharpens the mind, the one that opens us up to the poetry and simultaneously helps us see the symmetry, finally gifting us the remembrance that these two fields of reference are the wings of the one bird. Our spiritual practices are the wings of our soul, necessary appendages for the flight of freedom that we are all destined to take. The teachers who guide us and share their wisdom, tools and spiritual luster are like that Mother bird, who gently pushes the shaky fledgling from the branch, tumbling at first, then managing, then gliding…. then soaring.
I thank God for my Teachers everyday. I thank God for my Practice everyday. And I thank myself everyday too, for showing up and doing the work, because dedicating time, energy and effort to Spiritual Practice, in whatever shape or form it takes is not easy. It takes an abundance of courage and humility in equal proportions because within that context of commitment we will confront our edges, daily. Physical edges, mental, emotional, social and spiritual edges, and those can be gritty moments.
That grit is by design. Its like Anna Forrest says, “Never waste a good trigger.” because in those moments we get to see ‘how we deal’, we get to meet our many faces and see our fascinating escape strategies. And that is very interesting. Yet what’s also interesting is seeing how the triggers lose their charge over time, slowly the mind stops jumping around like a monkey. That is why Patanjali in his 12th Sutra suggests that stilling the fluctuations of the mind is a twofold process: Practice plus the slow, steady cultivation of non-reactivity. No way to avoid it. It’s going to get wild in there! The mind will panic and try to hold fast inside secure walls of what is known and comfortable. However, settling for the safety of the shallows is not the way of the Yogi. The Yogi is the wild one. The Yogini is the one whose heart fire burns bright like the Sun. Sadhana or Spiritual practice, is for the one who is ready to become the crash test dummy of their own radical, brilliant life.
Be ready. It’s a long, often heartbreaking road. Yet what we need to remember is that we are built for this, engineered for awakening, designed to have experiences that break our heart, not in two, but wide open. Sometimes its the practice itself that opens us up, sometimes its life in her graciousness and ferocity and the practice is there to help us reassemble the pieces and continue forward through the wounding without losing hope, more raw, more vulnerable and expanded, ultimately more grateful for the preciousness of this human existence.
Either way, removing ourselves from the stream of daily life and dedicating sacred time to connect to our center and to the joy of our heart is a direct route to stepping beyond everyday consciousness and transforming old, worn out ways of being into tendencies that align us to our highest potential. Then, when we begin pulsing at our personal dharmic frequency, emitting a palpable, magnetic hum, we touch the full potential of spiritual practice: Sadhana as Seva, PRACTICE as SERVICE. Our edges blur, our skin becomes permeable and music spills out, healing vibrations ripple into our family life, the pulse slips into the community and triggers a cascade of events beyond our knowing and the world mysteriously gets brighter.
This is the power of the practice.
What are you waiting for?