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yogasutras

To the Bone

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To the Bone

Have you ever felt something, “to the bone”?

Henry David Thoreau said, Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw at it still.”

If there is one thing I’ve observed in being human it’s that we all grapple with our “bones”. It’s difficult to live fully exposed. It’s difficult to believe we are deserving of a deeply meaningful life, that the purpose we feel underneath it all is something worth sharing, yet our bones remain the scaffolding of our physical existence. I’m reflecting on all of this with a revived appreciation for the jazz genre thanks in part to, A Night in Tunisia. Listening to Dizzy Gillespie on the trumpet you know jazz music is not just in his fingers and his breath–it’s in his bones. As natural as it was for Dizzy to pioneer the Bebop Era, you and I are pioneers of something natural and meaningful. What’s in your bones?

While structure is essential, it can’t move without muscle. So much of our strength goes to the gnawing and burying and unearthing and gnawing again. Mindfulness practices help us penetrate through the layers of doubts, fears, torpor, cravings, and aversions dominating our energy.

Lately I’ve been going toe-to-toe with torpor. Such a thick layer of slug I feel like I’m buried under! I’ve blamed my kaphic dosha and my baby and my job(s) and the enigma that is time, but often it really boils down to me hiding behind my lethargy. There are many days I’d way rather be in my bed than on my mat, and in Child’s Pose if I make it. This week I had one of those days. I show up to class, defying the repetitive thoughts in my head tired, lazy, lazy, tired. “Breathe” she says. “Listen to your breath. The point is to give yourself a break from the constant thoughts that repeat themselves over and over again.”

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali mentions obstacles are a natural part of the process, as well as their consequences. Sutra 1.32 goes on to say:

One-pointed focus is the best way to prevent the obstacles and their accompaniments.

Many of the muscles we strengthen through conscious practices are unseen. Muscles like awareness, focus, self-compassion, and non-reactivity help us generate stillness and get back to the bone.

No matter how many times we bury them there is good news: bones are stronger than mild steel and alive, comprised of living cells and nerves and blood vessels that allow them to continue growing and repairing themselves. The other news flash? Every human framework is unique. Get to know your own skeletal variation. When the water is still, you can see the ocean floor. By creating stillness we can navigate through the natural obstacles that are generating waves in our lives. Whatever obstacles you’re up against, find your one-pointed focus and feel again, to the bone.

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Sankalpa: Living Intentionally

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Sankalpa: Living Intentionally

According to eastern philosophy, Sankalpa is the determination of our being subtler than thought, and more powerful than mind. “San” refers to a connection with the highest truth, “kalpa” means vow. Sankalpa is a commitment to support our highest truth. As the word personified alludes to, it is not just an intellectualization, but an actual embodiment of deep intention.

In reality, Sankalpa is difficult to maintain–it certainly has been for me. How many times have I intended on not stealing and stolen other’s time? How repeatedly have I committed to self-love and chosen pain? How often have I vowed to not judge and perpetuated thoughts of judgement? As sensual beings in a stress-provoking society it’s no surprise we get distracted and fall off the path of purposeful living.

Life from the outside in is an expert at rocking the boat, generating fluctuations in the mind and a wide range of emotions they elicit. When the mind remains rogue with no accountability our thoughts, words, and actions ride the waves and our deepest intentions are lost in the ocean of commotion. For this reason, we have to take time to connect from the inside out. As Patanjali reminds us in the Yoga Sutras, “yoga chitta vritti nirodha”, cessation of the fluctuations of the mind is yoga.

The waves don’t really stop. What changes is our ability to detach from them. When we detach the water becomes more calm and through this stillness we are able to reconnect with the core of our being. For many of us, the waves we endure are reflections of a deeper need or want that is not being fulfilled, a higher truth that has been buried or has yet to be discovered, a subconscious habit pattern that is repeating until we develop enough awareness and determination to move beyond it.

By studying the mind we can continue revealing what lies underneath. Through our own personal root cause analysis we can engineer a better understanding of our thoughts, words, and actions. With that understanding we can re-embody our deepest intentions, Sankalpa, to ultimately live a life connected with our highest truth.

Intention is hard work. It’s not just an idea or positive thought, it’s effort. Strengthening our resolve allows us to channel our energy constructively. As our determination takes root, old patterns–those that we were born with, samskaras, and those that we’ve created here–will weaken.

Start where you are.

Start by making the strong determination to embody what needs and wants you know to be true today.

Work your ways deeper in until you rediscover that momentous well of your being, your highest truth, Sankalpa.

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