2016 has gotten off to a busy start. January flew by and I’ve been largely silent on social media the last 2 weeks as I get more situated in a new home after a decade in a place that came to feel like a sanctuary. Followed by this recent and massive snow storm in New York, there’s been a steady supply of change and adjustment. Plus prepping to kick off the 2016’s Shaktiyoga New York Teacher Training at Bend and Bloom this coming weekend with 15 bright new trainees eager to learn the foundations of teaching yoga. Good times!
Moving was a combination of exhausting and exciting. The process was filled with reflection, purging, and planning how to adjust to a new neighborhood, new commute, and settling in to make this place the new sanctuary. I’ve already locked myself out of the apartment once and set off the smoke alarm (in the same day!) as I walked much of the first week in a disoriented haze. Gratefully, I had classes to teach and students to face which always grounds me in what I have come to recognize inside that is never changing.
I’m realizing home is so situated around habit and patterns. We end up knowing the placement of everything in our home so well, we could easily find it with the lights off. Relocating your body and possessions into a new place, all the way down to where you put your keys and your shoes is a patterned understanding that is built over time and I’m adjusting.
I feel the same way about the practice of yoga where streams of pattern are built over time in making connection to your inner, most private world, exactly where deep shifts will take place. This is one reason it is strongly urged to practice daily so you are more able to imprint new thought waves, and meditate daily so you can know the steady, unchanging Self inside and let it rise to the surface more. Abhyasa is the sanskrit word for “regularity, over an extended period of time, with devotion”. In some way it sounds like the practice is no more than a repeated set of principles and ideas. Since we are habitually patterned in our thinking, behavior, and physical movement, the teaching of abhyasa follows then that you come to the practice first to recognize outdated, destructive, or unsupportive patterns, then imprint new ones in a sort of reverse-swap. Those old patterns have both been in place most of your living years and have been reinforced in so many ways, so abhyasa is needed to begin to make change. Deep, substantial and true transformative change is the result from taking a long-haul view of a repeat cycle. And it takes time.
Then beyond just the process of repetition, abhaysa has a component of dedication and devotion to it, like a giving of yourself over to it fully, similar to getting lost in the flow of a yoga practice, or the company of a great friend, or intimate moments with your partner. If it matters, you’ll do it, and you’ll want to do it again and again. This part is about recognizing why practice matters at all – in the small scheme of things, to how you want to effect your moment, to the larger scheme of things, and a larger view of the arc of your life of practice, and life in general.
It definitely matters to me that I remain able to get in and out of my apartment, so I’ll add the other component of the regularity of abhyasa: rhythm. What is the rhythm or pacing of this repetition that is stretched out over a period of time? So, I’m slowing down, giving myself more time to do everything. I’m aiming to find a rhythm that helps me set these new patterns in motion so they stick.
Wish me luck.