Monday, November 22, 2010

My Sphere of Influence

My boyfriend is absolutely brilliant. I really mean it.  Issues and problems that I struggle and wrestle with, he seems to inherently understand, and know exactly how to deal with them.  He is simple one of those people who draws in the energy and resources he needs, and puts them to good use.

One of his key tools for dealing with any problem is one that I have since borrowed and use almost every day.  When a situation comes up that seems difficult to handle or challenging to fix, he looks at it and asks a simple question:  "Is this in my sphere of influence, or is this not?"  If it is, he moves forward with finding a solution.  If not, he lets it go.
A sphere of influence. Note, this is not at ALL a plug for Anthony van der Hoorn's photography. Photo credit: Midday, by Anthony van der Hoorn,

Ah, letting go.  What a subtle and complicated art form that can be.  We muse so much in yoga about vairagya (non-attachment) but then, we come to a pose that is particularly challenging for us, and we fight against our own bodies to wriggle ourselves into some semblance of the pose, often foregoing common sense or safety to do so.  Or, off the mat, we stress and worry about if we're getting a promotion at work, if the guy will call, when that purse will go on sale, or thousands of other little problems that we ooze energy dealing with instead of letting the universe take care of it.

This is what I tell my students.  (And, of course, myself.) Today, where we are, we have very little control over our level of flexibility or strength. Both of those things take a great deal of time and japa (repetition) to build.  In the context of a yoga class, you really can't get too much more flexible, or much stronger, in that moment. However, in each session, we can choose to deeply focus on the things within our personal sphere of influence.  When you are transitioning from pose to pose, are you just thinking about getting there, or on bringing mindfulness to the space between the asanas?  When you stand in poses that are familiar to you,  do you rely on your old habits to get you there, or try to learn something new?  Transitions, mindfulness, and single-pointed attention - all of these things, as yoga practitioners, are in our sphere of influence.  

An invitation:  Just for your next yoga class, let go of the need to improve at the asana itself, and focus simply on the things that you can directly control.   Center your mind on making the transitions as clean as possible, on being mindful of the subtleties held within each pose, and keeping your mind focused on your own mat.  You may be surprised by what you find.

Have a gorgeous night, and keep practicing!


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