About 10 years ago I moved to Paris to write and instead spent 4 months eating croissants and wandering the city desperately trying to speak French to those who didn’t insist on English. I barely opened my computer. I thought I just didn’t have the ambition to write, but resistance is a funny thing that can trick you into trading out your dreams for what’s in front of you, be it Paris or Netflix.
Patanjali codified it in the Yoga Sutras, one of the foundational texts of yoga philosophy, listing 9 obstacles we all encounter in life when pursuing a goal. Things like illness, doubt, lethargy, fatigue, lack of perseverance… I come back to these often because they come up for me often. In fact, I think I encountered each of them this past week as I announced to many of you and to my calendar that I would send out a newsletter with a video practice and a new blog post.
Identifying what obstacles come up for us is part of how we progress forward. Action is the other part.
The yoga word for action is Tapas. It’s heat, commitment, effort. Once we acknowledge our resistance, we can see it for what it is and continue to work toward our goal. When we get caught in our mind, whether it’s I’m too tired or I’m not good enough, our natural reaction is to stay in that web and try to think our way out. We get overwhelmed and our resistance gets stronger. The way out is through action. That may be a yoga practice or a walk with a friend to get clear-headed and back on track. But it’s continuing to move toward our goals. TKV Desikachar, writing about yoga as progress into the new in the book Health Healing and Beyond, says “we are likely to falter. That is why it must be a movement of continuous effort and gradual progression.”
The space between my vision and reality is often messy. At first, reality looks like a rough draft of my vision. For years, that rough draft stayed safe on my computer hard drive or in my mind while I continued to think about how to get to perfect. The problem with perfection, as we all know but pretend we don’t, is it doesn’t exist.
So this week, even as my mind played its game out, I kept moving forward. I recorded a video, then another, then another. The first one cut off my head. My dog interrupts the final but it was go time. (As a former journalist, I can tell you deadlines are a handy trick for getting shit done.)
This months’ practice is meant to help you move into action by tapping into the third chakra, the solar plexus/navel area where we connect to our inner power. A powerful affirmation for that Chakra is “I am open, courageous and confident.” You might call to mind something you want to move forward on in your life and repeat that affirmation as you practice.
Then go do what you think you aren’t ready to do. Say the words that are hard to say. Be courageous. Act.
And know you aren’t alone. Let me know how it goes!