Even though I know better, even though I’ve been at this for decades, I still catch myself over-reaching. I catch myself in the striving mode, the working hard mode. And I get lost in the idea that if I just work hard enough, I will eventually “get there.” Trust me, there is nothing wrong with this…unless it’s all I do. If I leave out the crucial second part (the release), I’m sunk.
We all know that in work, in love, in yoga, in pretty much anything–nothing of value can be accomplished without strong, sincere effort. But–and this is important–nothing can come of all that effort if we don’t also release into it. Everywhere you look, this is true. The tide comes in, and goes out. We inhale, we exhale. The earth gives us a bountiful harvest, then retreats into itself for the winter. Let us accept and embody this natural rhythm in our yoga practice as well.
Here’s how I do it: The yogini in the picture above is practicing half moon pose, or ardha chandrasana. If I were in this pose, the effort would be in planting my standing foot, enlivening the muscles of the legs, pressing both heels away from the pelvis, lengthening the spine, reaching the crown away from the ‘up’ heel, pressing into the earth with one hand and reaching for the sky with the other…so much delicious effort! Once I’ve made all this effort, I play with releasing into it…letting the effort itself create a perfect environment for deep internal release. I let go into the effort. And release begins to radiate outward from the center.
If you do yoga, play with this yourself during your next yoga class. Work diligently at the elements of a pose, then forget about them and release into the whole world of it. If yoga’s not your thing, play with this idea anyway. Are you a musician? Practice the piece, work the details, go over the trills, etc. But then, just play the damn thing with your heart–from the strength of your practice. I’m curious about how many applications this idea might have. Write me. Get creative and let me know if you were moved to try this, and how you put this into action in your life.
May you be well and happy. Thoroughly. And for good.