Three Ways to Practice Effortlessness
- Choose faith over fear. In practice and in everyday life, allow your choices and your action to flow from faith.
- Act in the service of what you are for rather than what you are against. Embrace what you are for and allow others the freedom to choose what they are for.
- Do nothing and be nothing: this is how we learn to do and be with love. Sit quietly doing nothing and being nothing daily.
–Meditations on Intention and Being, Rolf Gates (Day 50, “Effortless”)
Day 355 -Using the purusarthas, the four aims, Rolf asks us to evaluate the samadhi in our lives, which is through dharma (duty), artha (worldly purpose), kama (enjoyment), and moska (liberation). Furthermore, Rolf inquires: “How does yoga in general, and samadhi in particular, aid us in care of the soul?”
Yoga in our American culture has become commercialized, monetized, polarized, and bastardized. In some ways, in my opinion, this is good because new things come out of old traditions when appropriated by another culture. Ideas get transmitted and souls rise from the flames as old practices burn away. The best way to practice yoga is to just practice it, right? Start. Get on your mat (or floor, if you really don’t want to spend money). The very first yoga I was exposed to was a book on Iyengar. which sat on my shelf for nearly 15 years before I took my first class at the Y one Friday night for shits and giggles.
Rolf catalogues the ways in which we use yoga to escape. We can use yoga to hide out from the necessary pain of life. Yep, done that. Further, he writes that “we can also justify selfish acts with fanciful yogic notions” about others who do not “respect” our practice and therefore, do not deserve our own respect or compassion. However, he continues, writing: “If we show up on our mats and in our lives with integrity and good intentions, there is no aspect of our yoga practice that does not promote the care of our souls.”
I find that the critical lens through which one might examine “American” yoga can be used for all aspects of my day from work to mothering to dance. And yet, I think I often get side-tracked by all the evident and overwhelming aspects of misappropriation and greed. In the end, a daily practice and reflection add much to my life. Without the daily practice, I wouldn’t probably be dancing again, nor still teaching in public school. I wouldn’t have faith that this, too, shall pass. Effortlessness is definitely worthy of striving for, and rather than fielding complaints for others or obsession upon my own misgivings and frustrations, I think the practice of simple effortlessness is more than enough.