“Insight is the human capacity to see outside of our conditioned way of seeing; it is literally the ability to see what we are in the habit of not seeing. It is a natural capacity that we all share, as is the ability to put it to work in our lives.”
-Day 38, Rolf Gates, Meditations on Intention and Being: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga
Day 291 – I can’t get enough of self-development this week. I’ve been enthusiastically washing dishes at 4:30 a.m. to allow myself time to listen. I listen on the way to Harrison’s soccer practice and last night, I listened during the soccer practice (instead of studying pre-calc). I listen to stuff on keto, stuff on motivation, stuff on organization, stuff on yoga, stuff on teaching, just stuff, stuff, stuff. My mind full of stuff, I must have a notebook to write down the more worthy items, or I just listen again. It occurs to me how much there is to learn and understand.
Last night at soccer, I listened again to an interview with Mel Robbins about her 5-second rule, made famous by her TED talk. I have heard several interviews with her, and though I haven’t watched the entire TED talk all the way through, I thought how succinctly five seconds will change your habitual thought patterns, once you know you are stuck. The five-second rule will get you unstuck.
Rolf explains how the first steps of pratyahara feel when we sit down to meditate, describing the challenges: “Our first moments in meditation are a lot like slamming on the brakes in a car. All sorts of things keep moving, even though the car isn’t. It takes a mind a while to figure out that we are no longer moving and that we are serious about being still.”
The domain of pratyahara, and any self-improvement, is this tussle. It occurs on the yoga mat and off the yoga mat. Rolf writes that on the yoga mat, there is a tussle “letting go of distraction…It is the twilight place between everyday consciousness and singular, pointed concentration.” Off the mat, there is the 5-second rule, getting down to business with what truly matters, which is much like “using the skills…developed in your asana and pranayama practice to settle the mind and body.” In this way, we can have a “movement away from energy-draining distraction,” as in five…four…three…two…one, toward “energy-building concentration.”