“Yoga is the study of balance, and balance is the aim of all living creatures; it is our home.,,yoga is the practice of celebrating what is. At the end of the hero’s journey, he finds that he did not need to go anywhere, that all he sought was inside him all along.”
Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat
Day 1 – Each day, whether up at 4 a.m., usually in the beginning of the week or at 5 a.m., as this morning, I start my practice with pranam. Pranama is a “respectful bowing” to our sources of inspiration, respect, and elders. This is a relatively new part of my practice in the morning and I do it whether it is yoga, dance, or pilates. It awakens me from my sleep and reconnects me to myself and my practice. In Rolf’s words, yoga “reminds us that we are already there, that we need simply awaken from our dream of separation, our dream of imperfection.”
In Meditations on Intention and Being, Rolf explains that “how we perform an action is as important as the action itself.” In other words, it is not through the performance of pranam, but the intention that goes into it that is important. Indeed, Rolf asserts, we “come to see that how we are being is more important than what we are doing…[and] we can’t free ourselves from a way of being without consciously letting go of that way of being.” Pranam is my attempt to be in the moment without “the effort of control or attachment” to the particular action, which Buddhists call “contracted states.” More importantly, pranam for me is always performed with the “intention of effortless.” I set an intention of ease and effortlessness and reverence and gratitude, I step of my dreams (of separation), I put aside my dreams (of imperfection), and I “rest in the felt experience of those intentions.”
Rolf writes: “Spiritual practice can be understood as cultivating the habit of meeting low-energy patterns, like il will or craving, with high-energy intentions, like kindness and generosity.” This process “finds its true potential” in effortlessness. My spiritual practice, which I definitely regard my morning as, is first and foremost not about results, but about “love without attachment” and “awareness without control.” I can’t say that every morning is an “experience of effortlessness,” but in general is an exercise in such.