Skill in action
Many people in the community I cross paths with, speak of the Law of Attraction, generally summing up the idea that by focusing on positive (or negative thoughts) we can bring about similar correlated experiences into our life. Even though I do not dispute that there is always a greater energy that can manifest or block "what we think we want", there is a loophole in this belief system that I can't quite wrap my head around, and that is ... where is the intention / goal / desire / want, coming from? The mind or the heart? And do we really know what we want?
I think this misconstrued belief of supposed "positive affirmations " could potentially create narrow-mindedness, self-centredness, blind faith, and discourage self-inquiry of a deeper truth ~ what is it that we REALLY, TRULY, want or seek, from the HEART, without attachment or aversion to the outcome?
During my last trip to Singapore, I checked out a Spiritual and Healing Festival, and was invited to sit in on a talk on "How to fast track enlightenment and manifest material success at the same time”, (which to me sounded more like an MLM sales pitch). There is also the well-known (infamous?) book / film The Secret, in which the author (and spiritual business guru) helps one "uncover" the "law of attraction", and make the claim that positive thinking can create life-changing results such as increased happiness, health and wealth. This book includes the suggestion to 'not observe overweight people if you are trying to control your own weight'.
So, does the Law of Attraction then create more separation than connection? More fear than compassion? Are we acting from how we want things to be, rather than how they are? Are we focusing more on the outcome and lose sight on the process, the journey itself? Does it then make it harder for us to accept things when the result doesn't pan out the way we want them to be? How do we account for this then? Do we blame others, or do we place judgement and shame on ourselves?
I always believe that the Universe does give us what we want, but it's usually not served on a silver platter.
My partner calls this the Law of Creation, where the shifting of our perspectives eventually creates the reality that we have initially set our heart (and sight) upon.
Our conscious mind, often times being our ego centre, "sets the intention" - mostly it conjures the image of attaining a goal, to change a habit / pattern, to become someone (usually better). In a yoga class, it is also not uncommon for the teacher to ask students to "set an intention", sometimes called a "Sankalpa" (a one-pointed resolve to do and achieve) for the practice. In a dynamic Asana practice we can often see students pushing themselves to get into a handstand, an arm balance, a deep backbend etc...
"Forming an asana is talking to God", quoting Ram Dass.
When we are on the yoga mat, we are having a conversation (or multiple conversations) uncovering our true self. We are finding out who we we truly are - the body, mind, spirit meld into Oneness ... However, the ego frequently interjects with a bigger authority (than God even), because we are not able to quiet the thinking mind. When we perform a pose, we are in a state of flux - trying to find the subtle balance between two polarities. One extreme being the comfort zone, and we may not coming close enough to experiencing real transformation if we always choose to rest in its habitual familiarity. The other is pushing the edge too far when we become fixated on "getting there" and in turn lose sight on the journey itself.
Usually, the surefire way of losing the battle is when we try too hard to “achieve", which can often lead to injuries because we are not mindful of how we are getting in or out of the pose. Even if we succeed in performing the pose, we quickly move on to the next thing, the next big pose, and we forget the lessons we've learnt on the way.
"Yoga is Skill in Action", Krishna said to Arjuna in the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita, when Arjuna became confused and disheartened by the notion of having to step on the battlefield to confront his enemies (some of which were also his family and teachers). This is also when Krishna began to impart Karma Yoga (the Yoga of Action or Work) to his protegé, and in turn, uncover Jnana Yoga (the Yoga of Wisdom or Awareness), and to offer his actions / work to a higher purpose (Bhakti Yoga).
When we roll out our yoga mat and stand on the battlefield, we begin a journey of self discovery. The chariot is our body, manifested in material form to perform the actions (poses) or Karma, and undertake the challenges to fight the demons (our ego, habits, patterns, conditioning). Our ability to decide how we want to move into the next pose (if and when we choose to take the form of which) is the Jnana, or wisdom / awareness in discerning between what is real and what is truth. We then make the necessary decisions on how and where to place the chariot. However, it is only when our actions and our knowledge stem from a deep rooting in the ability to surrender to a higher purpose, i.e learning from the lessons (and the failures), enjoying the process, seeing the dissolution of separation through compassion, finding transformation through our own trappings, and being quiet enough to listen to the flow, the law of nature... to see oneself in it, can we then see our own perfection, our very own Skill in Action.
So when we roll our mats up and wander into the "real" world, we see the "Play" of creation, the "Lila" of consciousness. By shifting our perspective (i.e "Law of Creation) to the present moment, we can embody our Skill in Action. We can start to rise up to our challenges in a way that is effective because we act from a place of equanimity and love. We can see with more clarity when we are less attached to our ego desires, unclouded by our judgements... and fully welcome the fruits of our actions, whether they come serve on a silver platter or on a sheath of banana leaf ...
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself”.
Registered Yoga Therapist, Somatic Movement Educator, Bodyworker, Yoga Teacher Trainer