I was in class with my teacher Tracee Stanley the other day and she asked us to contemplate what we have faith in.
After two pandemic years followed by this new time of devastation in the world, the cliche platitudes I might have grasped in the past don’t hold up. These times have a way of piercing through the bubble we sometimes live in and waking us.
What is most true is I have faith in my practice. This practice of breath and movement, of stillnes, has sustained me these last two years – make that 6 years – even as my heart breaks on the regular and as so many ideas of stability in the world are stripped away.
This is the idea of yoga in its essence: abhyāsa and vairāgyā. Practice and letting go. We show up for practice. And we let go of old patterns and behaviors that aren’t supporting us, old ideas of ourselves, all that we can’t control.
Over these last couple years, probably like you, there have been times when my idea of how the world works has shattered and I’ve felt I know nothing at all. My practice has been my ground during these times and on the other side is a new, more expansive view of the world.
Abhyāsa and vairāgyā are practiced together, which is how we change old patterns and see ourselves and the world around us with more clarity.
That practice element can take different forms. It can be our asana or meditation practice. It can be practicing a new behavior. Letting go may be simply letting thoughts pass or letting go of old habits. or it can be letting go of bigger ideas we hold about ourselves or life. We practice first; and then our grip on these old ways and thoughts loosens.
As I sat in practice with my teacher, feeling my broken heart and that unsureness about what I have faith in, I could hold space for this fractured feeling. My practice has taught me that what is breaking is some idea I believe about the world. But life continues. As we know from the seasons, spring will come, new flowers will bloom.