Pratipaksa Bhavanam 2 ~ PYS II.34
So often I have moments in my own practice, and have heard from other practitioners – “I did that thing again. I see it. Again. How long will I be stuck only seeing this habit? When will I be able to shift?”
We’ve duly noted our habits, vices, or moments of spiritual narcolepsy – whether they be giving a dirty look, drinking root beer, telling that gray lie, or whatever our particular pattern is. We’ve worked on accepting them, without judgement. And yet… there they go again!
The first shift is being able to foresee the habit, maybe only by the smallest of margins, maybe the hand is already in the fridge with the root beer firmly grasped. And yet! A moment is opened wide for us to contemplate in.
And like the Lorax we ask “Which way does a tree fall?”
And answer, “Whichever way it’s leaning.”
We look at where we would fall if we were to continue on with the pattern, and use that as motivation to not continue onwards.
So we put the root beer back, we grab the alternative and head off. With two further points of practice:
1) Letting Go – Theoretically to reach the point of putting the root beer back from a place of acceptance and recognition of habit would imply you have let go of root beer. That is not always the case, it’s important to watch out for false letting go – pushing away. Letting go is all about the internal state, and not at all about the external actions. If you’re still internally occupied with root beer, it matters little whether or not you drink it. Make sure to stay meditative and honest with where you are. It is possible to have completely let go of root beer, and yet drink it every day. That’s a high level of letting go, and not something to reach for. But you can imagine what that might be like.
2) Leaning – Now that you’re in a groove of foreseeing, expand it! It’s not just for those big patterns of habit. It can be an intention in asana class to return to, or one you practice throughout the day. Ask yourself “What way would I fall in this moment?” “What way am I leaning?” Then adjust, so that when we do fall (because we never won’t fall), we cause the least harm possible, and feel stronger and surer of ourselves as we stand back up.
How do you lean when you’re on the subway? Walking down the street? Running late for work? Making purchases in the grocery store? When you know you’re going into a situation that usually prompts you to X — prep beforehand. Set yourself up so that you will take your time with your choice, be honest, and choose to let go.
“People often describe the genome as a blueprint, but it’s more like a weather report. It can’t tell us what tomorrow’s clouds will look like, but it can warn us there’s a chance of rain.” Richard Eskow (in Tricycle)
Whether the fall is hereditary heart disease or osteoporosis, whether it’s lifestyle illness or heartbreak. Whether it’s separation, or losing someone we love. Whether we stop being mindful, and start taking it out on our relationships. Whatever it it – it’s going to happen, we just don’t know exactly how or when. But we know we all fall. How you lean now will make all the difference. Scientifically speaking, emotionally speaking, yogically speaking, human beingly speaking.